John Barth, ‘The Sot-Weed Factor’ author, dead at 93

John Barth

Postmodern American author John Barth, who wrote “The Sot Weed-Factor” and “Giles Goat-Boy,” died Tuesday. He was 93.

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The novelist’s death was confirmed by Rachel Wallach, who works in communications at Johns Hopkins University, The New York Times reported. She told the newspaper she did not have any other details.

Born on May 27, 1930, in Cambridge, Maryland, Barth was 30 when he published his third novel, “The Sot-Weed Factor,” in 1960, the Times reported. The book lampooned the early history of Maryland and was a parody of 18th-century English novels, according to Britannica.com.

He followed up with “Giles Goat-Boy” in 1966, according to the newspaper. He described the novel as a story “about a young man who is raised as a goat, who later learns he’s human and commits himself to the heroic project of discovering the secret of things.”

From 1965 to 1973, Barth taught at the State University of New York at Buffalo (now known as the University at Buffalo), the Times reported.

During his career, he published nearly 20 novels and collections of short stories, according to the newspaper. His first two novels were “The Floating Opera” in 1956 and “The End of the Road” two years later, according to Britannica.com.

He also published three books of critical essays and a book of short observational vignettes, the Times reported.

Barth was attracted to music while attending high school, playing the drums in the school band and harboring aspirations of becoming a jazz arranger, according to the newspaper.

He was accepted to join a summer program run by the Juilliard School in New York City before enrolling at Johns Hopkins.

“I found out very quickly in New York,” Barth said in a 2008 interview, “that the young man to my right and the young woman to my left were going to be the real professional musicians of their generation, and that what I had hoped was a pre-professional talent was really just an amateur flair.”

He graduated from Johns Hopkins in 1951 and received a master’s degree at the school the following year. Before joining the faculty in Buffalo, Barth taught at Penn State from 1953 to 1965, the Times reported.

In 1969, Barth’s “Lost in the Funhouse” collection of short stories was a finalist for the National Book Award. He won the award in 1973 for another collection, “Chimera,” according to the newspaper.

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