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Paperback Chimera Book

ISBN: 0618131701

ISBN13: 9780618131709


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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

In CHIMERAJohn Barth injects his signature wit into the tales of Scheherezade of the Thousand and One Nights, Perseus, the slayer of Medusa, and Bellerophon, who tamed the winged horse Pegasus. In a book that the Washington Post called "stylishly maned, tragically songful, and serpentinely elegant," Barth retells these tales from varying perspectives, examining the myths' relationship to reality and their resonance with the contemporary world. A winner...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Barth as "Ebenezum" or "A multitude of Enchantments"

Authors do not write novels with the purpose of having them labelled. Critics label novels and authors because they like to put things and people in their places. John Barth writes novels, long or short, because he likes to. he writes them in specific styles and ways because that is what he enjoys and that is how he thinks, and that is how he writes. The three short novels in Chimera are different in subject matter from Barth's other novels. The style is sometimes easy, sometimes cryptic and sometimes full of intellectual vanity. But that is what makes Barth. One reads this type of work if one likes this type of work. And if the reader gets even more than he hoped to get out of reading the book, then the reader recommends it to others and sometimes writes a review. If you like Barth, or this type of literary writing, but do not know much Greek mythology, you must read this book for fun and to expand your cultural horizons. If you like Greek mythology, you should read this book for the perspective, the depth and the whimsy. And, who knows, you may start looking at more recent history in a different way. If you like Gore Vidal's "histories", you may well like this book. Finally, if you enjoyed Craig Shaw Gardner's books, maybe you will enjoy Chimera, but for different reasons. These are not writer comparisons but reader idiosyncrasies.

Postmodern Mythology

Though somewhat uneven throughout, John Barth's Chimera is an enjoyable and complex read, particularly for those with an interest in Ancient Mythology and Post Modern fiction. This "novel," written sometime after Giles Goat-Boy and Lost in the Funhouse, is comprised of three very loosely connected novellas, all taking post-modern slants on classic mythological stories. "Dunyaziad" is a brief recounting of the 1001 Arabian Nights and the plight that Princess Scheherazade and her sister faced after recounting those 1001 stories to their tyrannical husbands. Don't worry if you've never read the real 1001 Nights: Barth provides enough context that you'll quickly figure out what's going on. You'll probably want to go out and read the original tales after you're done, because he does a great job of making these tales seem mysterious and intriguing. "Perseiad" is tale of Perseus and his mid-life crisis after slaying Medusa and separating from his wife. This is definitely the best tale of the three and is very similar to Barth's earlier tales "Menelaiad" and "Anonymiad" from Lost in the Funhouse. The digressions are minimal, the plot perfectly formed (spiralic if you will), and the sense of impotency, confusion, and frustration very tangible. "Bellerophoniad" is a self-conscious imitation of "Persiad" and probably the most difficult story of the three. It definitely has its good parts, but some of the post-modern digressions (particularly the lengthy account of characters originally found in Giles Goat-Boy, and notes from a lecture delivered on Barth's fiction itself) can really be tedious. Once again, don't be frightened off by the copious references to mythological characters and events, even if you aren't previously familiar with them. Barth goes out of his way to bring you up to speed, even citing a passage from Robert Graves' The Greek Myths to give you a very literal account of Bellerophon's myth. All of Barth's trademark wit and complexity are here, and there is plenty of sex, violence, and humor (sometimes all three at once) to keep you entertained. If you are a new reader to Barth, you are much better off reading The Sot-Weed Factor or Lost in the Funhouse, but to those who already consider themselves devoted fans, this is a must-read.

Not a book for everyone

I read this book for a High School project and enjoyed most of it. Considering that I have been a fan of ancient mythology for several years I can really appreciate the different perspectives of this book and how Barth takes into account the different circumstances of each myth. It was fun and intriguing most of the time, but I found it also very confusing at parts. Barth had a tendency to go off on a tangent at certain parts of the novel and I was found trying to decipher several passages. Though I enjoyed his unique view of how things happened and I enjoyed how he made the myths playout much like a modern day screenplay I was also lost in the verbose detours that he took in the midst of these ebjoyable portions. So like I said, and enjoyable book, but not for everyone. Especially if you get lost easily in twisted

Gripping, thought-provoking, humorous, generally excellent

This is one of the finest works by a fine author. Several scenes and lines from it have entered my personal mythos.Each of the three novellas is a gem in its own way, and the trio work beautifully together. In each, the basic idea is to show a legendary figure as a real human being. We see Perseus after his glory days have passed, for example, and also meet Bellerophon who secretly feels that he has been a faker all along. But it's much more than yet another retelling of old legends.It will make you think. It will probably also make you laugh in places and move you in others.The wrapup is unexpected. Some will love it; some will hate it.Do yourself a favor and read this. It's well worth the price of the paperback.

A great read!

It's interesting. It's fun. It's "literary," for those of you who care. It makes you think. It's worth reading more than once.
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