John Barth, Undergraduate Academic Adviser

An Essay

by John Balaban
Log in or register to post comments

John Barth's books kept me insanely sane through undergrad work. Now this John allows me to see a man-behind-the-writer I did not expect! Thank you, Mr. Balaban. Both Johns live in these words.

Many thanks. I missed John Barth at Penn State, arriving the year after he left. I've learned almost nothing about him, but reading Goat-Boy after my freshman year, I gargled on his sendup of the multiversity, its rote lectures, sterile pseudo-villages, its "rationalization" of education. How fortunate of you to have won John Barth's friendship. Clearly, you earned it; you seem to have been very clear-minded at your age. You seem also to have threaded the various thickets capably; they were full of thorns and snares. For a contrasting narrative, I could tell you of every misstep and muddled direction a person could have made, instead.