John Barth’s titular short story, ‘Lost in the Funhouse’, from his subversive short- story collection Lost in the Funhouse, is an overt example of the theories. Lost in the Funhouse by John Barth. BACKGROUND. John Barth is best known for his wit and clever use of language. He wrote short stories like “Lost in the. LOST IN THE FUNHOUSEby John Barth, John Barth is no doubt best known as a novelist, but his one collection of short stories, Lost in the Funhouse.

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Lost in the Funhouse is a short story collection by American author John Barth. The postmodern stories are extremely self-conscious and self-reflexive and are considered to exemplify metafiction. The book appeared the year after the publication of Barth’s essay The Literature of Exhaustionin dunhouse Barth said that the traditional modes of realistic fiction had been used up, but that this exhaustion itself could be used to inspire a new generation of writers, citing NabokovBeckettand especially Borges as exemplars of this new approach.

Lost in the Funhouse took these ideas to an extreme, for which it was both praised and condemned by critics.

Lost in the Funhouse

Each story can be considered complete in itself, and in fact several of them were published separately before being collected. Barth insists, however, on the varth nature of the stories, and that a unity can be found in them as collected. When Barth began attending Johns Hopkins University inhe enrolled in one of only two creative writing courses available in the US at the time. He went on to become one of the first full-time professors of creative writing.

The un in Lost in the Funhouse display a professorial concern with fictional form. Lost in the Funhouse was Barth’s first book after the ” The Literature of Exhaustion “, [4] an essay in which Barth claimed that the traditional modes of realistic writing had been exhausted and no longer served the contemporary writer, but that the exhaustion of these techniques could be turned into a new source of inspiration.


Barth cited a number of contemporary writers, such as Vladimir NabokovSamuel Beckettand especially Jorge Luis Borgesas important examples of this. The essay later came to be seen by some as an early description of postmodernism. Jorge Luis Borges was a primary influence, [7] as acknowledged by Barth a number of times, most notably in ” The Literature of Exhaustion “.

Written between and[9] several of the stories had already been published separately. Barth has said he has written his books in pairs: Lost in the Funhouse came out inand was followed in by Chimeraa collection of three self-aware, interrelated, metafictional novellas. This results in a regressus ad infinituma loop with no beginning or end.

Lost in the Funhouse |

The tale allegorically recapitulates the story of human life in condensed form. In “Petition”, one half of a pair of Siamese twinsjoined at the stomach to his brother’s back, writes a petition in to PrajadhipokKing of Siam now Thailandprotesting his brother’s not acknowledging his existence.

In “Menalaiad”, Barth leads the reader in and out of seven metaleptic layers. Three of the stories – “Ambrose, His Mark”; “Water-Message”; and the title story, “Lost in the Funhouse” – concern a young boy lowt Ambrose and members of his family. The first story is told in first person, leading up to describing how Ambrose received his name.

Lost in the Funhouse – Postmodernism

The second is told in third-person, written in a deliberately archaic style. The third is the most metafictional of the three, with a narrator commenting on the story’s form and literary devices as it progresses. In what is apparently an argument between a couple with problems in their relationship, Barth rejects giving details of names and descriptions, instead just using the words “fill in the blank”.


In keeping with the book’s subtitle – “Fiction for Print, Tape, Live Voice” – the “Author’s Note” by Barth indicates the various media through which a number of these stories can be conveyed. Lost in the Funhouse was nominated for the National Book Award Barth would win the award for his next book, Chimerain Among Barth’s detractors, John Gardner wrote in On Moral Fiction that Barth’s stories were immoral and fake, as they portrayed life as absurd.

Funohuse has said that “Barth’s mature career as a fabulist begins with Lost in the Funhouse “, and David Morrell called the story “Lost in the Funhouse” “the most important, progressive, trend-defining American short fiction of its decade”.

The protagonist takes a creative writing course at a school near Johns Hopkins, taught by a Professor Ambrose, who says he ” is a character in and the object of the seminal ‘Lost in the Funhouse'”. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Lost in the Funhouse: This section needs expansion.


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