John Barth represents most completely what has been termed postmodernism, not because his work comprises more postmodernist features than other contemporary writers but because, for Barth, "life" and "art" are two sides of the same coin.
In this brief study, first published in 1987, Heide Ziegler examines all Barth’s novels. She argues that each pair of novels first "exhausts" and then "replenishes" those literary genres that hinge on a particular world view: the existentialist novel, the Bildungsroman, the Kunstlerroman, or the realistic novel. Through the division of labour between character and author Barth manages to develop a new mode of literary parody which projects itself beyond the mocked literary model and even self-parody into the realm of future fiction.
This book is ideal for students of literature and postmodern studies.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements; A note on the texts; 1. Introduction: The sense of an ending 2. The supra-existentialist novel: The Floating Opera and The End of the Road 3. The supra-Bildungsroman: The Sot-Weed Factor and Giles Goat-Boy 4. The supra-Kunstlerroman: Lost in the Funhouse and Chimera 5. The supra-realistic novel: LETTERS and Sabbatical 6. Conclusion: The sense of a beginning; Notes; Bibliography