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Barth, John

(US, 1930– )

Barth's extravagant fiction has been much influenced by his career as a teacher of English and creative writing, mostly at Johns Hopkins University, and by oriental and medieval tale cycles. His works are usually lengthy and elaborate exercises in story-telling or pastiches of genres—the historical novel, science fiction, the novel in letters. Easily his best-known and most approachable novel is The Sot-Weed Factor (1960), a mock-picaresque tale of the seventeenth-century poet Ebenezer Cooke's journey to Maryland to claim his estate; amid language games, numerous bawdy characters and incidents occur. Lost in the Funhouse (1968), a classic of experimental writing, consists of games-playing stories, some hinting at autobiography, others with wildly various narrators. Letters (1980) takes the form of correspondence between characters in Barth's previous books and the author himself.

Laurence Sterne, Thomas Pynchon  JS

Additional topics

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionBooks & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (A-Bo)