Goodreads helps you follow your favorite authors. Be the first to learn about new releases!
Start by following John Barth.

John Barth John Barth > Quotes


John Barth quotes (showing 1-30 of 89)

“In art as in lovemaking, heartfelt ineptitude has its appeal and so does heartless skill, but what you want is passionate virtuosity.”
John Barth
“Everyone is necessarily the hero of his own life story.”
John Barth
“Somewhere in the world there was a young woman with such splendid understanding that she'd see him entire, like a poem or story, and find his words so valuable after all that when he confessed his apprehensions she would explain why they were in fact the very things that made him precious to her...and to Western Civilization! There was no such girl, the simple truth being.”
John Barth, Lost in the Funhouse
“Every artist joins a conversation that's been going on for generations, even millennia, before he or she joins the scene.”
John Barth
“My dear fellow,' Burlingame said, 'we sit here on a blind rock careening through space; we are all of us rushing headlong to the grave. Think you the worms will care, when anon they make a meal of you, whether you spent your moment sighing wigless in your chamber, or sacked the golden towns of Montezuma? Lookee, the day's nigh spent; 'tis gone careening into time forever. Not a tale's length past we lined our bowels with dinner, and already they growl for more. We are dying men, Ebenezer: i'faith, there's time for naught but bold resolves!”
John Barth, The Sot-Weed Factor
“The reader! You, dogged, uninsultable, print-oriented bastard, it's you I'm addressing, who else, from inside this monstrous fiction. You've read me this far, then? Even this far? For what discreditable motive? How is it you don't go to a movie, watch TV, stare at a wall, play tennis with a friend, make amorous advances to the person who comes to your mind when I speak of amorous advances? Can nothing surfeit, saturate you, turn you off? Where's your shame?”
John Barth, Lost in the Funhouse
“He wishes he had never entered the funhouse. But he has. Then he wishes he were dead. But he's not. Therefore he will construct funhouses for others and be their secret operator -- though he would rather be among the lovers for whom funhouses are designed.”
John Barth, Lost in the Funhouse
“not every boy thrown to the wolves becomes a hero.”
John Barth
“All men are loyal, but their objects of allegiance are at best approximate.”
John Barth, The Sot-Weed Factor
“Self knowledge is always bad news.”
John Barth, Giles Goat-Boy
“I admire writers who can make complicated things simple, but my own talent has been to make simple things complicated.”
John Barth
“Nobody knew how to be what they were right. ”
John Barth, Lost in the Funhouse
“How come you write the way you do?” an apprentice writer in my Johns Hopkins workshop once disingenuously asked Donald Barthelme, who was visiting. Without missing a beat, Don replied, “Because Samuel Beckett was already writing the way he does.”
Asked another, smiling but serious, “How can we become better writers than we are?”
“Well," DB advised, “for starters, read through the whole history of philosophy, from the pre-Socratics up through last semester. That might help.”
“But Coach Barth has already advised us to read all of literature, from Gilgamesh up through last semester...”
“That, too,” Donald affirmed, and twinkled that shrewd Amish-farmer-from-West-11th-Street twinkle of his. “You’re probably wasting time on things like eating and sleeping. Cease that, and read all of philosophy and all of literature. Also art. Plus politics and a few other things. The history of everything.”
John Barth, Further Fridays: Essays, Lectures, and Other Nonfiction, 1984 - 1994
“I particularly scorn my fondness for paradox. I despise pessimism, narcissism, solipsism, truculence, word-play, and pusillanimity, my chiefer inclinations; loathe self-loathers ergo me; have no pity for self-pity and so am free of that sweet baseness. I doubt I am. Being me’s no joke.”
John Barth, Lost in the Funhouse
“path's should be laid where people walk, instead of walking where paths are laid-”
John Barth, The End of the Road
“Those rituals of getting ready to write produce a kind of trance state.”
John Barth
“Indeed, if I have yet to join the hosts of the suicides, it is because (fatigue apart) I find it no meaningfuller to drown myself than to go on swimming.”
John Barth, Lost in the Funhouse
“Nothing is loathsomer than the self-loathing of a self one loathes.”
John Barth, Giles Goat-Boy
“There's a great difficulty in making
choices if you have any imagination at all. Faced with such a multitude of desireable choices, no one choice
seems satisfactory for very long by comparison with the aggregate desirability of all the rest, though compared to any *one* of the others it would not be found inferior. All equally attractive but none finally inviting.”
John Barth, The End of the Road
“I have remarked elsewhere that I regard the Almighty as not a bad novelist, except that He is a realist.”
John Barth, The Friday Book
“Is man a savage at heart, skinned o'er with fragile Manners? Or is savagery but a faint taint in the natural man's gentility, which erupts now and again like pimples on an angel's arse?”
John Barth, The Sot-Weed Factor
“His head always felt about to ache, but never began to.”
John Barth
“The difference here 'twixt simple and witty folk, if the truth be known, is that your plain man cares much for what stand ye take and not a fart for why ye take it, while your smart wight leaves ye whate'er stand ye will, sobeit ye defend it cleverly.”
John Barth, The Sot-Weed Factor
“It’s easier and sociabler to talk technique than it is to make art.”
John Barth, The Friday Book
“Ah, God, it were an easy Matter to choose a Calling had
one all Time to live in! I should be fifty Years a
Barrister, fifty a Physician, fifty a Clergyman, fifty a
Soldier! Aye, and fifty a Thief, and fifty a Judge! All
Roads are fine Roads, beloved Sister, none more than
another, so that with one Life to spend I am a Man
bare-bumm'd at Taylors with Cash for but one pair of
Breeches, or a Scholar at Brookstalls with Money for a
single Book: to choose ten were no Trouble; to choose one,
impossible! All Trades, all Crafts, all Professions are
wondrous, but none is finer than the rest together. I
cannot choose, sweet Anna: twixt Stools my Breech falleth
to the Ground!”
John Barth, The Sot-Weed Factor
“Articulation! There, by Joe, was MY absolute, if I could be said to have one. At any rate, it is the only thing I can think of about which I ever had, with any frequency at all, the feelings one usually has for one's absolutes. To turn experience into speech - that is, to classify, to categorize, to conceptualize, to grammarize, to syntactify it - is always a betrayal of experience, a falsification of it; but only so betrayed can it be dealt with at all, and only in so dealing with it did I ever feel a man, alive and kicking.”
John Barth, The End of the Road
“For whom is the funhouse fun? Perhaps for lovers. For Ambrose it is a place of fear and confusion. ”
John Barth
“…you don’t reach Serendib by plotting a course for it. You have to set out in good faith for elsewhere and lose your bearings … serendipitously.” ---The Last Voyage of Somebody the Sailor”
John Barth
“Everyone is necessarily the hero of his own life story. Hamlet could be told from Polonius's point of view and called The Tragedy of Polonius, Lord Chamberlain of Denmark. He didn't think he was a minor character in anything, I daresay.”
John Barth, The End of the Road
“... a man's most useful friend and fearsome foe is the poet.”
John Barth, The Sot-Weed Factor

« previous 1 3

All Quotes | Add A Quote
Play The 'Guess That Quote' Game

The Sot-Weed Factor The Sot-Weed Factor
6,145 ratings
Lost in the Funhouse Lost in the Funhouse
4,752 ratings
Chimera Chimera
1,787 ratings