Quotes from Lost in the Funhouse

John Barth ·  205 pages

Rating: (4.8K votes)


“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, quote from Lost in the Funhouse


“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, quote from 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, quote from Lost in the Funhouse


“Nobody knew how to be what they were right. ”
― John Barth, quote from Lost in the Funhouse


“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, quote from Lost in the Funhouse



“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, quote from Lost in the Funhouse


“Unhappily, things get clearer as we go along. I perceive that I have no body. What's less, I've been speaking of myself without delight or alternative as self-consciousness pure and sour; I declare now that even that isn't true. I'm not aware of myself at all, as far as I know. I don't think. . . I know what I'm talking about.”
― John Barth, quote from Lost in the Funhouse


“Yet everyone begins in the same place; how is it that most go along without difficulty but a few lose their way?”
― John Barth, quote from Lost in the Funhouse


“There was some simple, radical difference about him. He hoped it was genius, feared it was madness, devoted himself to amiability and inconspicuousness.”
― John Barth, quote from Lost in the Funhouse


“Too late she saw: what she’d favored him with in jest he had received with adoration.”
― John Barth, quote from Lost in the Funhouse



“…beg Love’s pardon for your want of faith. Helen chose you without reason because she loves you without cause; embrace her without question and watch your weather change.”
― John Barth, quote from Lost in the Funhouse


“people still fall in love, and out, yes, in and out, and out and in, and they please each other, and hurt each other, isn't that the truth, and they do these things in more or less conventionally dramatic fashion, unfashionable or not, go on, I'm going, and what goes on between them is still not only the most interesting but the most important thing in the bloody murderous world”
― John Barth, quote from Lost in the Funhouse


“Let your repentance salt my shoe leather," I said presently, "and then, as I lately sheathed my blade of anger, so sheath you my blade of love.”
― John Barth, quote from Lost in the Funhouse


“But I reckon we can manage somehow. The important thing to remember, after all, is that it’s meant to be a funhouse; that is, a place of amusement. If people really got lost or injured or too badly frightened in it, the owner’d go out of business. There’d even be lawsuits. No character in a work of fiction can make a speech this long without interruption or acknowledgment from the other characters.”
― John Barth, quote from Lost in the Funhouse


“In sum I'm not what either parent or I had in mind. One hoped I'd be astonishing, forceful, triumphant—heroical in other words. One dead. I myself conventional. I turn out I.”
― John Barth, quote from Lost in the Funhouse



“Love it is that drives and sustains us!' I translate: we don't know what drives and sustains us, only that we are most miserably driven and, imperfectly, sustained. Love is how we call our ignorance of what whips us.”
― John Barth, quote from Lost in the Funhouse


“Others live for the lie of love; Echo lives for her lovely lies, loves for their livening.”
― John Barth, quote from Lost in the Funhouse


“The wisdom to recognize and halt follows the know-how to pollute past rescue. The treaty’s signed, but the cancer ticks in your bones. Until I’d murdered my father and fornicated my mother I wasn’t wise enough to see I was Oedipus.”
― John Barth, quote from Lost in the Funhouse


“One way or another, no matter which theory of our journey is correct, it's myself I address; to whom I rehearse as to a stranger our history and condition, and will disclose my secret hope though I sink for it.”
― John Barth, quote from Lost in the Funhouse


About the author

John Barth
Born place: in Cambridge, Maryland, The United States
Born date May 27, 1930
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