Donald Barthelme, Postmodernist American Writer

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This study clarifies and interprets the literary function and value of certain artistic choices made by this major American writer who in four novels and more than 100 short stories constructed a fictive realm. The canon of Barthelme’s work is an invaluable repository of the literary, philosophical, political, and cultural ecology of his time. He is viewed in his own context – upscale New York City, the art circuit and the New Yorker, where he made his reputation and had a relatively loyal readership. Architecture, the cinema, and music all gave him what painters call ‘scrap’ but it was painting that allured him, showed him what the writer could do, and painting that he tried to emulate in voicing the heretofore unvoiced. This study, examining and evaluating an elaborate cross-section of Barthelme’s work, will show that what mattered was method.


“. . . honest and meticulous scholarship. . . unusually readable for a scholarly tome of this sort. Quotations are carefully selected and are integrated smoothly into the text. Hudgens’ style is lucid, often even elegant and witty. He manages to avoid the tortured syntax and overly cerebral vocabulary of many learned works of criticism. Furthermore, he is never afraid to use humor or irony when a light note is appropriate. . . . a major critical study of an increasingly respected fiction writer. It will be a valued addition to the growing body of scholarship surrounding Barthelme’s writing and its position in the Postmodernist movement.” – John J. Dunn

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