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Barth and modernism

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  • John Cash
    Hi, all! What would you say is or was a true MODERNIST characteristic in John Barth`s works? A few critics have argued that in Barth`s works there are/have
    Message 1 of 4 , Nov 4, 2003
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      Hi, all!
      What would you say is or was a true MODERNIST characteristic in John
      Barth`s works? A few critics have argued that in Barth`s works there
      are/have been certain modernist features, unlike ,for example, in
      Thomas Pynchon`s work for whom there`s no doubt that he is a true
      postmodernist writer. To simplify, if we compare Barth and Pynchon,
      why could anyone claim that Barth is less postmodernist than Pynchon?
      What is that characteristic that would make him like that?
      Sergey from Moskow
    • Martin Skidmore
      Other than Barth s first two novels, I think you d be very hard pressed to put up a good argument against Barth being Postmodernist. - Martin Skidmore ...
      Message 2 of 4 , Nov 4, 2003
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        Other than Barth's first two novels, I think you'd be very hard pressed to put up a good argument against Barth being Postmodernist.
        - Martin Skidmore
        -----Original Message-----
        From: John Cash [mailto:john_cash2301@...]
        Sent: 04 November 2003 11:38
        To: johnbarth@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [johnbarth] Barth and modernism

        Hi, all!
        What would you say is or was a true MODERNIST characteristic in John
        Barth`s works? A few critics have argued that in Barth`s works there
        are/have been certain modernist features, unlike ,for example, in
        Thomas Pynchon`s work for whom there`s no doubt that he is a true
        postmodernist writer. To simplify, if we compare Barth and Pynchon,
        why could anyone claim that Barth is less postmodernist than Pynchon?
        What is that characteristic that would make him like that?
        Sergey from Moskow



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      • Blair Mahoney
        Hi Martin, Sergey and others... One description of the difference between modernist and postmodernist fiction that I ve always quite liked (although I m not
        Message 3 of 4 , Nov 4, 2003
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          Hi Martin, Sergey and others...

          One description of the difference between modernist and postmodernist
          fiction that I've always quite liked (although I'm not sure it entirely
          holds up) is Brian McHale's distinction (in his book Postmodernist
          Fiction) between the epistemological basis of modernist fiction and the
          ontological basis of postmodernist fiction.

          Basically, therefore, your archetypal modernist technique is
          stream-of-consciousness as in Woolf and Joyce playing around with what
          their characters know and think about, and good examples of
          postmodernism are when the author plays around with the reality of the
          fictional object we have in front of us (like in Barth's authorial
          intrusions in "Lost in the Funhouse", or Coover messing around with the
          narrative structure of "The Magic Poker" and "The Babysitter" in
          Pricksongs and Descants, or his final chapter of The Universal Baseball
          Association where he delves into the fantasy baseball world and doesn't
          re-emerge).

          So, yeah, I agree with Martin that Barth is your quintessential
          postmodernist, but it may have taken him a few novels to get into that
          groove. The Floating Opera and The End of the Road are, I think,
          probably better described as existentialist rather than postmodernist,
          although then we get into a debate about whether postmodernism is more
          about form than content...

          Blair

          Martin Skidmore wrote:

          > Other than Barth's first two novels, I think you'd be very hard
          > pressed to put up a good argument against Barth being Postmodernist.
          > - Martin Skidmore
          >
          > -----Original Message-----
          > *From:* John Cash [mailto:john_cash2301@...]
          > *Sent:* 04 November 2003 11:38
          > *To:* johnbarth@yahoogroups.com
          > *Subject:* [johnbarth] Barth and modernism
          >
          > Hi, all!
          > What would you say is or was a true MODERNIST characteristic in John
          > Barth`s works? A few critics have argued that in Barth`s works there
          > are/have been certain modernist features, unlike ,for example, in
          > Thomas Pynchon`s work for whom there`s no doubt that he is a true
          > postmodernist writer. To simplify, if we compare Barth and Pynchon,
          > why could anyone claim that Barth is less postmodernist than Pynchon?
          > What is that characteristic that would make him like that?
          > Sergey from Moskow
          >
          >
          >
          > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
          > johnbarth-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
          >
        • Martin Skidmore
          This is good stuff, though I would resist boiling Postmodernism down, because I don t think it works well. There are all sorts of reasonable ways of describing
          Message 4 of 4 , Nov 7, 2003
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            This is good stuff, though I would resist boiling Postmodernism down, because I don't think it works well. There are all sorts of reasonable ways of describing PoMo, all kinds of stances and moves that are PoMo, and there are are quite a few ways of approaching or describing modernism too - but I think Barth is as packed with PoMo characteristics, especially those that seem to me to best make the distinction from literary modernism, as just about any writer ever, and seems to offer very little ground on which to make a claim that he is modernist.
             
            A more interesting writer to debate this Mo vs PoMo thing, OT as it would be, would be Beckett, I think. I think he rather straddles the line.
             
            - Martin Skidmore
            -----Original Message-----
            From: Blair Mahoney [mailto:blair.mahoney@...]
            Sent: 05 November 2003 02:44
            To: johnbarth@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: Re: [johnbarth] Barth and modernism

            Hi Martin, Sergey and others...

            One description of the difference between modernist and postmodernist
            fiction that I've always quite liked (although I'm not sure it entirely
            holds up) is Brian McHale's distinction (in his book Postmodernist
            Fiction) between the epistemological basis of modernist fiction and the
            ontological basis of postmodernist fiction.

            Basically, therefore, your archetypal modernist technique is
            stream-of-consciousness as in Woolf and Joyce playing around with what
            their characters know and think about, and good examples of
            postmodernism are when the author plays around with the reality of the
            fictional object we have in front of us (like in Barth's authorial
            intrusions in "Lost in the Funhouse", or Coover messing around with the
            narrative structure of "The Magic Poker" and "The Babysitter" in
            Pricksongs and Descants, or his final chapter of The Universal Baseball
            Association where he delves into the fantasy baseball world and doesn't
            re-emerge).

            So, yeah, I agree with Martin that Barth is your quintessential
            postmodernist, but it may have taken him a few novels to get into that
            groove. The Floating Opera and The End of the Road are, I think,
            probably better described as existentialist rather than postmodernist,
            although then we get into a debate about whether postmodernism is more
            about form than content...

            Blair

            Martin Skidmore wrote:

            > Other than Barth's first two novels, I think you'd be very hard
            > pressed to put up a good argument against Barth being Postmodernist.
            > - Martin Skidmore
            >
            >     -----Original Message-----
            >     *From:* John Cash [mailto:john_cash2301@...]
            >     *Sent:* 04 November 2003 11:38
            >     *To:* johnbarth@yahoogroups.com
            >     *Subject:* [johnbarth] Barth and modernism
            >
            >     Hi, all!
            >     What would you say is or was a true MODERNIST characteristic in John
            >     Barth`s works? A few critics have argued that in Barth`s works there
            >     are/have been certain modernist features, unlike ,for example, in
            >     Thomas Pynchon`s work for whom there`s no doubt that he is a true
            >     postmodernist writer. To simplify, if we compare Barth and Pynchon,
            >     why could anyone claim that Barth is less postmodernist than Pynchon?
            >     What is that characteristic that would make him like that?
            >     Sergey from Moskow
            >
            >
            >
            >     To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
            >     johnbarth-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
            >




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