Dialoguing the Text: Self-Reflexive Elements in John Barth’s Lost in the Funhouse

Sambit Panigrahi

Abstract


John Barth, one of the greatest exponents of postmodern fiction, makes explicit use of metafictional and self-reflexive elements in his work Lost in the Funhouse. Keeping in tune with his own declarations in his two remarkable essays “Literature of Exhaustion” and “Literature of Replenishment” Barth experiments with a new postmodern mode of narrative in all the stories in Lost in the Funhouse. The narrators of these stories do not merely tell stories but reflect on them and provide the readers with a detailed account of the thought processes involved in the creation of the stories. In other words, Barth’s narrative is all about “stories-within-stories. Called as “metafiction” in typical Postmodernist terms, such a narrative makes us aware of the ‘fictionality of fiction’—a tenet that is rampantly traced in many postmodern novels. Needless to say, self-reflexive and metafictional modes of narrative involve a straightforward dialogue between the author and the reader in a scenario where the author becomes a character in the story and duly shares his creative experiences with the reader. In the light of the above theoretical inputs, this paper intends to read John Barth’s Lost in the Funhouse as a representative postmodern text while highlighting the metafictional and self-reflexive elements in the text.


Keywords


Self-reflexivity, metafiction, postmodernism, dialogism

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References


Barth, John. Lost in the Funhouse: Fiction for Print, Tape, Live Video. New York: Doubleday

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---. “The Literature of Exhaustion.” The Friday Book: Essays and Other Non-Fiction.

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---. “The Literature of Replenishment.” The Friday Book: Essays and Other Non-Fiction.

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