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John Simmons Barth (; born May 27, 1930) is an American writer who is best known for his
postmodernist Postmodernism is an intellectual stance or mode of discourse defined by an attitude of skepticism Skepticism (American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known a ...
and
metafiction Metafiction is a form of fiction Fiction is any creative work A creative work is a manifestation of creativity, creative effort including Work of art, fine artwork (sculpture, paintings, drawing, Sketch (drawing), sketching, performance art) ...
al fiction.


Life

John Barth, called "Jack", was born in
Cambridge, Maryland Cambridge is a city in Dorchester County, Maryland Maryland ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its so ...

Cambridge, Maryland
. He has an older brother, Bill, and a twin sister Jill. In 1947 he graduated from Cambridge High School, where he played drums and wrote for the school newspaper. He briefly studied "Elementary Theory and Advanced Orchestration" at
Juilliard The Juilliard School () is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly ...
before attending
Johns Hopkins University The Johns Hopkins University (Johns Hopkins, Hopkins, or JHU) is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty S ...

Johns Hopkins University
, where he received a B.A. in 1951 and an M.A. in 1952. His thesis novel, ''
The Shirt of Nessus In Greek mythology, the Shirt of Nessus, Tunic of Nessus, Nessus-robe, or Nessus' shirt was the poisoned shirt that killed Heracles. It was once a popular reference in literature. In folkloristics, it is considered an instance of the "poison dres ...
'', drew on his experiences at Johns Hopkins. Barth married Harriet Anne Strickland on January 11, 1950. He published two short stories that same year, one in Johns Hopkins's student literary magazine and one in ''The Hopkins Review''. His daughter, Christine Ann, was born in the summer of 1951. His son, John Strickland, was born the following year. From 1953 to 1965, Barth was a professor at
Pennsylvania State University The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State or PSU) is a with campuses and facilities throughout . Founded in 1855 as the Farmers' High School of Pennsylvania, Penn State became the state's only university in 1863. Today, Penn State is a ...
, where he met his second and current wife, Shelly Rosenberg."John Barth" FAQ, http://www.davidlouisedelman.com/barth/faqs His third child, Daniel Stephen, was born in 1954. During the "American high Sixties", he moved to teach at the
State University of New York at Buffalo The State University of New York at Buffalo, commonly referred to as the University at Buffalo (UB), is a public university, public research university with campuses in Buffalo, New York, Buffalo and Amherst, New York, United States. The unive ...
from 1965 to 1973. In that period he came to know "the remarkable short fiction" of the Argentine
Jorge Luis Borges Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo (; ; 24 August 1899 – 14 June 1986) was an Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator, and a key figure in Spanish literature, Spanish-language and international literature. His ...

Jorge Luis Borges
, which inspired his collection ''
Lost in the Funhouse ''Lost in the Funhouse'' (1968) is a short story collection by American author John Barth John Simmons Barth (; born May 27, 1930) is an American writer who is best known for his postmodernist Postmodernism is a broad movement that develo ...
''. Barth later taught at
Boston University Boston University (BU) is a Private university, private research university in Boston, Massachusetts. The university is nonsectarian but has a historical affiliation with the United Methodist Church. It was founded in 1839 by Methodists with ...
as a visiting professor in 1972–73 and at
Johns Hopkins University The Johns Hopkins University (Johns Hopkins, Hopkins, or JHU) is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty S ...

Johns Hopkins University
from 1973 until he retired in 1995.


Literary work

Barth began his career with '' The Floating Opera'' and ''
The End of the Road
The End of the Road
'', two short realist novels that deal wittily with controversial topics,
suicide Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death Death is the permanent, irreversible cessation of all biological functions that sustain a living Living or The Living may refer to: Common meanings *Life, a condition t ...

suicide
and
abortion Abortion is the ending of a pregnancy Pregnancy, also known as gestation, is the time during which one or more offspring In biology, offspring are the young born of living organism, organisms, produced either by a single organism ...

abortion
respectively. They are straightforward realistic tales; as Barth later remarked, they "didn't know they were novels". '' The Sot-Weed Factor'' (1960) was initially intended as the completing novel of a trilogy comprising his first two "realist" novels, but, as a consequence of Barth's maturation as a writer, it developed into a different project.John Barth (1987) Foreword to Doubleday Anchor Edition of ''The Sot-Weed Factor'' The novel is significant as it marked Barth's discovery of
postmodernism Postmodernism is an intellectual stance or mode of discourse defined by an attitude of philosophical skepticism, skepticism toward what it describes as the meta-narrative, grand narratives and ideology, ideologies of modernism, as well as oppos ...
. Barth's next novel, ''
Giles Goat-Boy ''Giles Goat-Boy'' (1966) is the fourth novel by American writer John Barth John Simmons Barth (; born May 27, 1930) is an American writer who is best known for his postmodernist Postmodernism is a broad movement that developed in the mid- ...
'' (about 800 pages), is a speculative fiction based on the conceit of the university as universe. Giles, a boy raised as a goat, discovers his humanity and becomes a savior in a story presented as a computer tape given to Barth, who denied that it was his work. In the course of the novel Giles carries out all the tasks prescribed by
Joseph Campbell Joseph John Campbell (March 26, 1904 – October 30, 1987) was an American professor of literature at Sarah Lawrence College who worked in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work covers many aspects of the human experience ...
in ''
The Hero with a Thousand Faces #REDIRECT The Hero with a Thousand Faces ''The Hero with a Thousand Faces'' (first published in 1949) is a work of comparative mythology by Joseph Campbell, in which the author discusses his theory of the mythological structure of the journey of t ...
''. 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 ''Lost in the Funhouse'' (1968) is a short story collection by American author John Barth John Simmons Barth (; born May 27, 1930) is an American writer who is best known for his postmodernist Postmodernism is a broad movement that develo ...
'' (1968) and the novella collection '' Chimera'' (1972) are even more
metafiction Metafiction is a form of fiction Fiction is any creative work A creative work is a manifestation of creativity, creative effort including Work of art, fine artwork (sculpture, paintings, drawing, Sketch (drawing), sketching, performance art) ...
al than their two predecessors, foregrounding the writing process and presenting achievements such as a seven-deep nested quotation. ''Chimera'' shared the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction. In the novel ''LETTERS'' (1979), Barth interacts with characters from his first six books. His 1994 ''Once Upon a Time: A Floating Opera'', reuses stock characters, stock situations and formulas.Clavier, Berndt (2007) ''John Barth and Postmodernism: Spatiality, Travel, Montage'' pp. 165–167


Styles, approaches and artistic criteria

Barth's work is characterized by a historical awareness of literary tradition and by the practice of reprise, rewriting typical of postmodernism. He said, "I don't know what my view of history is, but insofar as it involves some allowance for repetition and recurrence, reorchestration, and reprise [...] I would always want it to be more in the form of a thing circling out and out and becoming more inclusive each time."Elias, Amy J. (2001
''Sublime Desire: History and Post-1960s Fiction''
p. 224.
In Barth's postmodern sensibility, parody is a central literary device, device. Around 1972, in an interview, Barth declared that "The process [of making a novel] is the content, more or less." Barth's fiction continues to maintain a precarious balance between postmodern self-consciousness and wordplay and the sympathetic characterization and "page-turning" plotting commonly associated with more traditional genres and subgenres of classic and contemporary storytelling.


Essays

While writing these books, Barth was also pondering and discussing the theoretical problems of fiction writing. In 1967, he wrote a highly influential and, to some, controversial essay considered a manifesto of postmodernism, ''The Literature of Exhaustion'' (first printed in ''The Atlantic'', 1967). It depicts literary realism as a "used-up" tradition; Barth's description of his own work, which many thought illustrated a core trait of postmodernism, is "novels which imitate the form of a novel, by an author who imitates the role of author". The essay was widely considered a statement of "the death of the novel", (compare with Roland Barthes' "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 (1980) wrote a follow-up essay, "The Literature of Replenishment", to clarify the point.


Awards

*1956 — National Book Award finalist for ''The Floating Opera''"National Book Awards – 1956"
National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-30.
*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 ''Lost in the Funhouse'' (1968) is a short story collection by American author John Barth John Simmons Barth (; born May 27, 1930) is an American writer who is best known for his postmodernist Postmodernism is a broad movement that develo ...
'' *1973 — Shared the National Book Award for ''Chimera'' with John Edward Williams for ''Augustus (Williams novel), Augustus''"National Book Awards – 1973"
National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-30.
(With acceptance speech by Barth and two essays by Harold Augenbraum from the Awards' 60-year anniversary blog. The essay nominally about Williams and ''Augustus'' includes Augenbraum's discussion of the split award.)
*1974 — Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters *1974 — Fellow of 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''John Barth's statement to Iranian literary prize, Roozi Rozegari


Selected works


Fiction

*'' The Floating Opera'' (1956) *'''' (1958) *'' The Sot-Weed Factor'' (1960) *''Giles Goat-Boy, Giles Goat-Boy, or, The Revised New Syllabus'' (1966) *''
Lost in the Funhouse ''Lost in the Funhouse'' (1968) is a short story collection by American author John Barth John Simmons Barth (; born May 27, 1930) is an American writer who is best known for his postmodernist Postmodernism is a broad movement that develo ...
: Fiction for Print, Tape, Live Voice'' (stories) (1968) *''Chimera (John Barth novel), Chimera'' (three linked novellas) (1972) *''LETTERS'' (1979) *''Sabbatical: A Romance'' (1982) *''The Tidewater Tales'' (1987) *''The Last Voyage of Somebody the Sailor'' (1991) *''Once Upon a Time: A Floating Opera'' (memoirish novel) (1994) *''On with the Story'' (stories) (1996) *''Coming Soon!!!: A Narrative'' (2001) *''The Book of Ten Nights and a Night: Eleven Stories'' (2004) *''Where Three Roads Meet'' (three linked novellas) (2005) *''The Development: Nine Stories'' (2008) *''Every Third Thought: A Novel in Five Seasons'' (2011) *''Collected Stories'' (2015)


Nonfiction

*''The Friday Book'' (1984) *''Further Fridays'' (1995) *''Final Fridays'' (2012)


See also

* Maryland literature


Notes and references


Further reading

*Rovit, Earl, "The Novel as Parody: John Barth." ''Critique'' 6 (Fall 1963). * * * * * * * * Dean, Gabrielle, and Charles B. Harris, eds. (2016). ''John Barth: A Body of Words.'' Dalkey Archive Press. 978-1-56478-869-6


External links

* Vida, Obra y Libros usado
de John Barth
* * * *
North American Postmodern Fiction: John Barth

Barth audio goodies at the Lannan site

Barth on KCRW's radio program 'Bookworm' with Michael Silverblatt


a short story by John Barth centered on hypertextuality

{{DEFAULTSORT:Barth, John 20th-century American novelists 20th-century American male writers American short story writers Postmodern writers Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters National Book Award winners People from Cambridge, Maryland Novelists from Maryland Boston University faculty Johns Hopkins University alumni Johns Hopkins University faculty Juilliard School alumni Pennsylvania State University faculty University at Buffalo faculty PEN/Malamud Award winners 1930 births Living people 21st-century American novelists American male novelists American male short story writers Novelists from Pennsylvania Novelists from Massachusetts Novelists from New York (state) 21st-century American male writers