In “Lost in the Funhouse,” the author, John Barth, writes a story about someone, a narrator, who is himself writing a story about Ambrose, a boy of thirteen. 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 (The Anchor Literary Library) [John Barth] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. John Barth’s lively, highly original.

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Anyone johnn has taken a 20th century American lit course has probably had to read something by Barth, and it was most likely the title story in this collection.

Barth is known for his excessive meta-fictional devices and influence on writers mentioned previously like Pynchon, Wallace, and probably any serious post-modernist. The devices serve a purpose and are usually humorous.

Unlike some post-modernists that came after him, Barth is very much concerned with art expressing a human experience mostly love. He enters with a girl Magda, but she continues on with his brother while he is left alone. But really it is not about this at all. In the typical Barth fashion, the funhouse is a multi-layered metaphor.

Lost in the Funhouse Summary – Schoolbytes

A funhouse has mirrors all around. This means that Ambrose must see himself reflected in all shapes and sizes.

This represents his funhoouse subconscious about the experience. His own head is also in the way of ever directly seeing the image in the mirror behind him.

This aspect of the metaphor is actually extensively rejected by Wallace. Wallace changes the metaphor and says it is like a bow and arrow. Your arm will always be in the way barh shooting directly, but the writer can take this into account and directly hit the reader.


This is all boring, though. Barth as a narrator sometimes narrates, sometimes talks directly to the reader, and sometimes comments on the narration. It is these comments that are the humorous meta-fictional devices.

The story becomes self-aware. It understands and points out the devices it is using. Initials, blanks, or both were often substituted for proper names fknhouse nineteenth-century fiction to enhance the illusion of reality. Varth is as if the author felt it necessary to delete the names for reasons of tact or legal liability.

Interestingly, as with other aspects of realism it is an illusion that is funhuose enhanced, by purely artificial means. The story is continually interrupted to go off on tangents like this. He wants to point out, explain, and make fun of the traditional devices he is using. In doing this he is actually creating new and original devices.

He wants the reader to be painfully aware that they are reading a story. Another aspect of the verbal trickery of the story is to somehow assert the primacy of language to experience.

All experience must barty filtered through language. In fact, in searching for a certain quote just now, I came across another that reinforces my reading that the entire story is a metaphor. For Ambrose it is a place of fear and confusion.

The funhouse is for lovers? It is scary and confusing for Ambrose? Come on, of course this is what it is talking about. He starts telling funhouze of these scenarios of how his being lost gets played out. In one he actually dies. He died telling stories to himself fuhhouse the dark; years later, when that vast unsuspected area of the funhouse came to light, the first expedition found his skeleton in one of its labyrinthine corridors and mistook it for part of the entertainment.

He died of starvation telling himself stories in the dark;…. This all emphasizes the main effect Barth is striving for. All finhouse experience is mediated by language. Language is so primary and important that a mind preoccupied by other stories could completely miss the experience itself. It is so great bxrth packed full of interesting things. And this is just one of many stories in the book. I highly recommend this to anyone who aspires to understand modern literature. I write about math, philosophy, literature, music, science, computer science, gaming or whatever strikes my fancy that day.


View all posts by Matt. Thanks for this essay.

Lost in the Funhouse

Stumbled upon this commentary today. Lost in the Funhouse is one of my favorite books. Re-read the passages quoted above and it works jlhn way, especially if you know that being terrified of life to the point of catatonia is a recurring theme in several Barth books.

His characters are frequently torn between decisiveness and indecision; the intellectually contemplative both envy and resent the unreflective man of action. Thanks for writing this! I have an exam tomorrow on this, and it just became a little more clear to me how this story unfolds! You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Twitter account.

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Facebook Reddit Twitter Pinterest. You are good in literature too. WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by searching for brain painting. Do you have any video of that?

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