John Barth

John Barth

Infobox Writer
name = John Barth

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birthdate = Birth date and age|mf=yes|1930|5|27
birthplace = Cambridge, Maryland
deathdate =
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occupation = Novelist, professor
nationality = American
period = 1957-
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debut_works =
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John Simmons Barth (born May 27, 1930) is an American novelist and short-story writer, known for the postmodernist and metafictive quality of his work.

John Barth was born in Cambridge, Maryland, and briefly studied "Elementary Theory and Advanced Orchestration" at Juilliard before 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.

Literary work

Barth began his career with "The Floating Opera" and "The End of the Road", two short novels that deal wittily with controversial topics, suicide and abortion respectively. 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 Frye called 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 Campbell in "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 Award for "The Floating Opera".
*1966 — National Institute of Arts and Letters grant in literature.
*1965 — The Brandeis University creative arts award in fiction.
*1965-66 — The Rockefeller Foundation grant in fiction.
*1968 — Nominated for the National Book Award for "Lost in the Funhouse".
*1972 — Awarded the National Book Award for "Chimera".
*1974 — Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
*1974 — Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
*1997 — F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Fiction.
*1998 — Lannan Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.
*1998 — PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story.
*1999 — Enoch Pratt Society'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)

elected works


*"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)
*"LETTERS" (1979)
*"" (1982)
*"The Tidewater Tales" (1987)
*"The Last Voyage of Somebody the Sailor" (1991)
*"" (memoirish novel) (1994)
*"On with the Story" (stories) (1996)
*"" (2001)
*"" (2004)
*"Where Three Roads Meet" (three linked novellas) (2005)
*The Development (2008)


*"The Friday Book" (1984)
*"Further Fridays" (1995)

External links

* [ John Barth Wins Iranian Literary Prize, Powell's Books]
* [ John Barth's statement to Iranian literary prize, Roozi Rozegari]
* [ John Barth Information Center]
* [ Scriptorium - John Barth]
* [ "Reading John Barth"] : an essay by Charles Harris (from CONTEXT Quarterly at
* [ North American Postmodern Fiction: John Barth]
* [ 1982, 1991 interviews with John Barth by Don Swaim]
* [ Barth audio goodies at the Lannan site]
* [ Two-part interview on KCRW's radio program 'Bookworm' with Michael Silverblatt (also at the Lannan site)]
* [ The fantastic "click!", a short story centered on hypertextuality]

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  • John Barth — John Simmons Barth (Cambridge, Maryland, 27 de mayo de 1930) es un escritor estadounidense, autor de relatos breves y novelas y conocido por su trabajo de corte posmodernista y metaficcional. Contenido 1 Datos biográficos 1.1 Estudios …   Wikipedia Español

  • John Barth — John Simmons Barth, né le 27 mai 1930, est un romancier et nouvelliste américain connu pour les caractéristiques postmodernes et métafictionnelles de ses œuvres[1]. Son travail fictionnel est parfois rapproché des univers de Vladimir… …   Wikipédia en Français

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  • John Barth — noun United States novelist (born in 1930) • Syn: ↑Barth, ↑John Simmons Barth • Instance Hypernyms: ↑writer, ↑author …   Useful english dictionary

  • Chimera (John Barth novel) — 1st edition cover (Random House) Chimera is a 1972 postmodern novel by John Barth composed of three loosely connected novellas. The novellas are Dunyazadiad, Perseid and Bellerophoniad, the titles of which eponymously refer to the mythical… …   Wikipedia

  • BARTH (J.) — BARTH JOHN (1930 ) Avec William Gass, Robert Coover et Vladimir Nabokov, John Barth est sans doute le romancier américain contemporain qui a eu l’influence théorique la plus grande sur l’art de son temps. Son essai sur «La Littérature de… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Barth (Familienname) — Barth ist ein Familienname. Bekannte Namensträger Inhaltsverzeichnis A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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