- John Barth
name = John Barth
birthdate = Birth date and age|mf=yes|1930|5|27
nationality = American
period = 1957-
John Barth was born in
Cambridge, Maryland, and briefly studied "Elementary Theory and Advanced Orchestration" at Juilliardbefore attending Johns Hopkins University, receiving a B.A. in 1951 and an M.A. in 1952 (for which he wrote a thesis novel, " The Shirt of Nessus").
He was a professor at
Penn State University(1953-1965), SUNY Buffalo (1965-1973), Boston University(visiting professor, 1972-1973), and Johns Hopkins University(1973-1995) before he retired in 1995.
Barth began his career with "
The Floating Opera" and " The End of the Road", two short novels that deal wittily with controversial topics, suicideand abortionrespectively. They are straightforward tales; as Barth later remarked, they "didn't know they were novels."
The Sot-Weed Factor", Barth's next novel, is an 800-page mock epic of the colonization of Maryland based on the life of an actual poet, Ebenezer Cooke, who wrote a poem of the same title. " The Sot-Weed Factor" is what Northrop Fryecalled an " anatomy" — a large, loosely structured work, with digressions, distractions, stories within stories, and lists (such as a lengthy exchange of insulting terms by two prostitutes). The fictional Ebenezer Cooke (repeatedly described as "poet and virgin") is a Candide-like innocent who sets out to write a heroic epic, becomes disillusioned and ends up writing a biting satire.
Barth's next novel, "
Giles Goat-Boy", of comparable size, is a speculative fiction based on the conceit of the university as universe. A half-man, half-goat discovers his humanity and becomes a savior in a story presented as a computer tape given to Barth, who denies that it is his work. In the course of the novel Giles carries out all the tasks prescribed by Joseph Campbellin " The Hero with a Thousand Faces". Barth kept a list of the tasks taped to his wall while he was writing the book.
The short story collection "
Lost in the Funhouse" and the novella collection "Chimera" are even more metafictional than their two predecessors, foregrounding the writing process and presenting achievements such as seven nested quotations. In "LETTERS" Barth and the characters of his first six books interact.
While writing these books, Barth was also pondering and discussing the theoretical problems of fiction writing, most notably in an essay, "The Literature of Exhaustion" (first printed in the "
Atlantic", 1967), that was widely considered to be a statement of " the death of the novel" (compare with Roland Barthes's "The Death of the Author"). Barth has since insisted that he was merely making clear that a particular stage in history was passing, and pointing to possible directions from there. He later (1979) wrote a follow-up essay, "The Literature of Replenishment," to clarify the point.
Barth's fiction continues to maintain a precarious balance between postmodern self-consciousness and wordplay on the one hand, and the sympathetic characterisation and "page-turning" plotting commonly associated with more traditional genres and subgenres of classic and contemporary storytelling.
*1956 — Nominated for the
National Book Awardfor "The Floating Opera".
National Institute of Arts and Lettersgrant in literature.
*1965 — The
Brandeis Universitycreative arts award in fiction.
*1965-66 — The
Rockefeller Foundationgrant in fiction.
*1968 — Nominated for the National Book Award for "
Lost in the Funhouse".
*1972 — Awarded the National Book Award for "
*1974 — Elected to the
American Academy of Arts and Letters.
*1974 — Elected to the
American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
F. Scott FitzgeraldAward for Outstanding Achievement in American Fiction.
Lannan FoundationLifetime Achievement Award.
PEN/Malamud Awardfor Excellence in the Short Story.
Enoch PrattSociety's Lifetime Achievement in Letters Award.
*2008 — Roozi Rozegari, Iranian literature prize for best foreign work translation"
The Floating Opera". (For details see the external links)
The Floating Opera" (1957)
The End of the Road" (1958)
The Sot-Weed Factor" (1960)
*"Giles Goat-Boy, or, The Revised New Syllabus" (1966)
*"" (stories) (1968)
*"Chimera" (three linked novellas) (1972)
*"The Tidewater Tales" (1987)
The Last Voyage of Somebody the Sailor" (1991)
*"" (memoirish novel) (1994)
On with the Story" (stories) (1996)
Where Three Roads Meet" (three linked novellas) (2005)
The Friday Book" (1984)
Further Fridays" (1995)
* [http://www.powells.com/blog/?p=3313 John Barth Wins Iranian Literary Prize, Powell's Books]
* [http://en.sibegazzade.com/2008/05/john-barth-won-iranian-literary-prize-roozi-rozegari John Barth's statement to Iranian literary prize, Roozi Rozegari]
* [http://www.dave-edelman.com/barth/index.cfm John Barth Information Center]
* [http://www.themodernword.com/scriptorium/barth.html Scriptorium - John Barth]
* [http://www.centerforbookculture.org/context/no5/harris.html "Reading John Barth"] : an essay by Charles Harris (from CONTEXT Quarterly at CenterforBookCulture.org)
* [http://www.eng.fju.edu.tw/English_Literature/barth/ North American Postmodern Fiction: John Barth]
* [http://wiredforbooks.org/johnbarth/index.htm 1982, 1991 interviews with John Barth by
* [http://www.lannan.org/lf/rc/event/john-barth/ Barth audio goodies at the Lannan site]
* [http://www.lannan.org/lf/audio/bookworm/ad/ Two-part interview on KCRW's radio program 'Bookworm' with Michael Silverblatt (also at the Lannan site)]
* [http://www.tnellen.com/cybereng/barth.htm The fantastic "click!", a short story centered on hypertextuality]
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