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Press Releases

Thursday, September 1, 2005

Writer John BarthDiscusses His Works September 20

class=""MsoNormal"">SALISBURY, MD---From the popular Lost in the Funhouse to the National Book Award-winning Chimera, John Barth is a giant in modern literature.

class=""MsoNormal"">The author both reads and discusses his works during “An Evening With John Barth” 8 p.m. Tuesday, September 20, in the Wicomico Room of the Guerrieri University Center. He inaugurates Salisbury University’s fall Writers-on-the-Shore Series during the University’s 80th anniversary year.

class=""MsoNormal"">Born and raised in Cambridge, MD, Barth first entered the world of the arts not as a writer, but a musician. He studied elementary theory and advanced orchestration at The Juilliard School with dreams of becoming a jazz drummer. A change in interests sent him to Johns Hopkins University, where he majored in writing, speech and drama. These classes helped lay the foundation for his literary career.

class=""MsoNormal"">That career began in 1956 with his first published novel, The Floating Opera, based on the James Adams Floating Theatre, a showboat that cruised the Chesapeake Bay in the 1920s and ‘30s. Nominated for a National Book Award, the novel launched Barth’s literary career.

class=""MsoNormal"">His next novel, The End of the Road, again drew from Barth’s ties to the Eastern Shore and Chesapeake Bay roots. Under the guise of the fictitious Wicomico State Teachers College, SU inspired the background of the book, which raised controversy during its initial publication in 1958 with its frank discussion of abortion. The only one of Barth’s novels to be adapted to the screen, the 1988 film starred Stacey Keach and James Earl Jones.

class=""MsoNormal"">In 1960, Barth established himself as a master of modern language with another Eastern Shore setting, The Sot-Weed Factor, set during Colonial times. A parody of historical novels, the book foreshadowed his next work, 1966’s Giles Goat Boy, another critically acclaimed farce.

class=""MsoNormal"">The author combined his love of the Eastern Shore, Greek mythology and experimentation with language for his next work, Lost in the Funhouse, for which he is best known today. Required reading for many English majors at universities across the country, the anthology of short stories earned Barth a second National Book Award nomination.

class=""MsoNormal"">His third nomination—and first win—came in 1973 with Chimera, in which Barth explored Greek mythology even further, mixing new language with classic characters and situations.

class=""MsoNormal"">From 1979-2004, Barth penned 10 more books, including LETTERS (1979), Sabbatical (1982), The Tidewater Tales (1987), The Last Voyage of Somebody the Sailor (1991), Once Upon a Time (1994), On With the Story (1996), Coming Soon!!! (2001), The Book of Ten Nights and a Night (2004) and the non-fiction The Friday Book (1984) and Further Fridays (1995).

class=""MsoNormal"">"Barth can pick literature apart in a narrative, play with it, and finally make restoration just in time for it to accomplish its ancient purposes of amusement and revelation,” says The New Republic. Time agrees: “Barth's cunning is to turn daily life into mythology while turning mythology into domestic comedy.” The New York Times calls him “a contemporary master.” “An Evening With John Barth” is free and the public is invited. For more information call 410-543-6445 or visit the SU Web site at "

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