Once Upon a Time: A Floating Opera: John Barth's Death-Defying Art of Writing

DOI: https://dx.doi.org/

Abstract

This study seeks to demonstrate the trend and development of Barth’s concept of writing and authorial presence, and the emphasis that Barth puts on the very act of narration/writing, as a means of deferring death and entitling writing as the art that defeats death. As the ultimate storyteller of the postmodern dispensation, John Barth has achieved prominence in his treatment of the contemporary man’s eternal engagement with their intuition of a hovering ultimacy and death, and the strategies of survival that his characters adopt in order to defy the diminishing of the self. He creates characters who are either literally writers or by the very nature of their existence are expected to write the story of their lives. These characters need to narrate themselves in order to avoid their disappearance into nothingness. Those who succeed in narrating themselves manage to achieve, not immortality, but existence, even if it is on the pages of books; those who fail to do so would eventually fall off the edges of the narrative into the void surrounding the fictional level of reality. The entire world, in Barth’s rendering, is reduced to an act of narration. Narrative functions as a means of survival.


Keywords

author, metafiction, narration

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Professor
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faruk
Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)