John Barth / Jun 03, 2020

Chimera In CHIMERA John 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 b

  • Title: Chimera
  • Author: John Barth
  • ISBN: null
  • Page: 195
  • Format: Paperback
  • In CHIMERA John 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 mythIn CHIMERA John 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 of the National Book Award, this feisty, witty, sometimes bawdy book provoked Playboy to comment, There s every chance in the world that John Barth is a genius.

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    About "John Barth"

      • John Barth

        John Simmons Barth is an American novelist and short story writer, known for the postmodernist and metafictive quality of his work.John Barth was born in Cambridge, Maryland, and briefly studied Elementary Theory and Advanced Orchestration at Juilliard before attending Johns Hopkins University, receiving a B.A in 1951 and an M.A in 1952 for which he wrote a thesis novel, The Shirt of Nessus.He was a professor at Penn State University 1953 1965 , SUNY Buffalo 1965 1973 , Boston University visiting professor, 1972 1973 , and Johns Hopkins University 1973 1995 before he retired in 1995.Barth began his career with The Floating Opera and The End of the Road, two short novels that deal wittily with controversial topics, suicide and abortion respectively They are straightforward tales as Barth later remarked, they didn t know they were novels The Sot Weed Factor, Barth s next novel, is an 800 page mock epic of the colonization of Maryland based on the life of an actual poet, Ebenezer Cooke, who wrote a poem of the same title The Sot Weed Factor is what Northrop Frye called an anatomy a large, loosely structured work, with digressions, distractions, stories within stories, and lists such as a lengthy exchange of insulting terms by two prostitutes The fictional Ebenezer Cooke repeatedly described as poet and virgin is a Candide like innocent who sets out to write a heroic epic, becomes disillusioned and ends up writing a biting satire.Barth s next novel, Giles Goat Boy, of comparable size, is a speculative fiction based on the conceit of the university as universe A half man, half goat discovers his humanity and becomes a savior in a story presented as a computer tape given to Barth, who denies that it is his work In the course of the novel Giles carries out all the tasks prescribed by Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces Barth kept a list of the tasks taped to his wall while he was writing the book.The short story collection Lost in the Funhouse and the novella collection Chimera are even metafictional than their two predecessors, foregrounding the writing process and presenting achievements such as seven nested quotations In LETTERS Barth and the characters of his first six books interact.While writing these books, Barth was also pondering and discussing the theoretical problems of fiction writing, most notably in an essay, The Literature of Exhaustion first printed in the Atlantic, 1967 , that was widely considered to be a statement of the death of the novel compare with Roland Barthes s The Death of the Author Barth has since insisted that he was merely making clear that a particular stage in history was passing, and pointing to possible directions from there He later 1979 wrote a follow up essay, The Literature of Replenishment, to clarify the point.Barth s fiction continues to maintain a precarious balance between postmodern self consciousness and wordplay on the one hand, and the sympathetic characterisation and page turning plotting commonly associated with traditional genres and subgenres of classic and contemporary storytelling.


    1. "The truth about fiction is that Fact is a fantasy; the made-up story is a model of the world."- John Barth, ChimeraI seem to fall, often backwards into Barth. Chimera was on my radar, barely, but I didn't know much about it. So, I was lucky (I guess) to read it right after finishing Graves' The Greek Myths. Lucky stars or indulgent gods I guess.Anywho, John Barth re+(tales|tails|tells) two Greek myths (and one Persian frame) into an anachronistic book of three novellas. Somewhat related, but st [...]

    2. For her part (she would go on--what a wife was this!), she took what she was pleased to term the Tragic View of Marriage and Parenthood: reckoning together their joys and griefs must inevitable show a net loss, if only because like life itself their attrition was constant and their term mortal. But one had only different ways of losing, and to eschew matrimony and childrearing for the delights of less serious relations was in her judgment to sustain a net loss even more considerable.A number of [...]

    3. This is a stupid book.John Barth has admirable goals (rejuvenating the novel) and an precise, musical command of language. But his one fatal flaw is his inability to get outside his own head. He aims for mythic significance, but the cosmic scope of his stories keeps getting mixed together with the very un-cosmic matter of John Barth, 20th century American writer, trying to think of words to put on the page. This manifests itself most obviously in two ways: his metafictional bent (he likes to wri [...]

    4. On the one hand John Barth threshed with the flail of his imagination many folklore and mythological archetypes to trash.“Polyeidus had a daughter, who knows by whom. Sibyl. Younger than we. That summer she was our friend. Deliades adored her, she me. I screwed her while he watched, in a little grove down on the shore, by Aphrodite's sacred well. Honey-locusts grew there, shrouded by rank creepers and wild grape that spread amid a labyrinth of paths.”And on the other hand he sacrilegiously t [...]

    5. A Chimera? More like an ourobourosBarth probes, prods, anatomizes, decenters, and renews the story-telling "thing" (to use one of many infectious Barthian colloquialisms, which give a winking, wry face to the monstrous ambition that bristles and bubbles behind the word-muncher´s specs) to a degree that seems almost to outsize the author´s most beloved pet subject: that very "thing" itself: tales and telling, told and listening.The style, as I mentioned, is energetic and folksy, and shifts in r [...]

    6. Мислех си, че съм прочела не една-две странни книги до този момент, но след "Химера" съм възторжено вдъхновена, че винаги зад ъгъла те дебне някое литературно гурме!

    7. This was a hoot - three linked novellas each drawn from much older traditions, one from The Arabian Nights and two from Greek mythology (the careers of Perseus and Bellerophon, respectively). There's too much deconstructionist wankery in here for me, personally; I'm not all that interested in theories of narrative, texts that are aware of themselves, et cetera, and the author's occasional appearances in his own story come off as indulgent, but then again a chimera is after all a conjunction of t [...]

    8. dnf - not a big fan of mythology or metafiction so it appears CHIMERA and I were not meant to be together. Ah, it's alright, Mr. Barth, THE FLOATING OPERA was fantastic and I'll be reading END OF THE ROAD and SOT-WEED soon.

    9. Well, here is another book that I have owned forever and just now got around to reading fully. This requires a bit of background.The first time I started reading Chimera I got through the first novella, and gave up halfway through the second. The second time, I got a tad bit further this time, I nearly gave up through the third story. Nonetheless, I did plow through. Yes, that is the right terminology. Plowed through. Finishing Chimera felt a bit like one of the 12 tasks of Hercules, unfortunate [...]

    10. This book is a very mixed bag for me. The first of the three parts is beautiful, funny, witty and insightful. It's also by far the shortest and most successful. Part two, focused on Perseus, is an enjoyable little romp, if perhaps not as poignant as the opening story and certainly not as tightly written. Part three, however, is what knocks stars off my ranking for this book, as Barth launches into a cascade of silliness and post-modern literary pyrotechnics that, while intellectually stimulating [...]

    11. Особена среща. Изключително зле подготвена се усетих за тази книга, защото познавам старогръцката митология доста повърхностно. От друга страна адски ми допадна идеята на Барт за мъжа герой, който, потънал в унеса на собствената си история и глас, отрязва всички достойни ж [...]

    12. When we talk about postmodern literature and metafiction, it would appear at first that we are talking about a fairly low-stakes arena of activity. Most often we are. Barth at his best, however, takes metafiction to a place of wild cosmological insight. And Chimera is emphatically Barth at his best. We are looking at text. Three texts. The idea of metafiction is to approach the text as text. But a text is a thing in itself as well as a nest of contexts. Contexts that reach across time and space. [...]

    13. I don't even know really where to begin with this book, except to say that it is the epitome of "meta-" if there ever was one. Judging by what I've read about Barth's other works, "meta-" seems to be his thing.In Chimera, he retells 1001 Nights, the myth of Perseus, and the myth of Bellepheron with the intention of exploring why we continue to study the myths while simultaneously recasting them in a post-freudian language that tries to flesh out how such things could actually come to pass (which [...]

    14. I've started my Barth-reading with LETTERS and proceeded backwards to this one, and can conclude that I love him in full on meta-fictive/structural complexity-mode (which not everyone seems to favour, judging from the reviews on this one here on GR.) The book consists of two perfectly composed (and very different) short stories and one quite insane novella so densely intertwined I would more or less count this as a novel in three parts. The first shorter ones are great in themself, but it is the [...]

    15. Dunyazadiad - 4/5Perseid - 3/5Bellerophoniad - not finished. *Read for class. Okay, lemme explain. I've read this for my class and I didn't have time to finish it before I got spoiled the last part, ahah, so I'm not gonna finish Bellerophoniad. However, I will consider this read because I do know what happened and I really wanna talk a little about the first two parts. The story told by Dunyazad, Sheherazada's little sister, was my favorite. I loved how the author included himself and complicate [...]

    16. If the collected works of Barth, Mailer, Roth, Updike, etc were launched into the sun tomorrow I'm pretty sure the world would be better off. There's just something about this "playfully chauvinistic sex-obsessed American male writer who peaked in the 1960s-1970s" thing that is incredibly offputting. Obviously Barth isn't precisely aligned with this group, but he's certainly reminiscent of them. I sincerely doubt that even Barth himself thought this book was actually funny or clever in any way [...]

    17. Ok, the 1st review in the front of my copy (actually a paperback) is from Playboy, the 2nd is from Cosmopolitan. Playboy is hardly representative of my idea of sexual politics & neither is Cosmo: to the editors of the latter: How many times can you rehash X # of tips for pleasing yr man? Really, it's sickening. Let's just FUCK, shall we? Remember INSTINCT for fuck's sake?! ANYWAY, at 1st I was disappointed by this: I've just recently read "The Last Voyage of Somebody the Sailor" by Barth &am [...]

    18. "No better way to ponder structural conventions of narrative. Also a very funny book." This was my note in 1984, when I was reading Barth, Pynchon, Barthelme and others to discover new ways of writing as I worked on my first, still unpublished, novel. "Chimera" is not so much a novel as an examination of itself, about how stories including this one are constructed — as New York Times reviewer Leonard Michaels summed up, "it consists of three parts retelling three ancient myths (the stories of [...]

    19. This is a meta-book connecting three novellas, all three of which are rewritten versions of ancient stories: The Thousand and One Nights, followed by the Greek myths of Perseus, then Bellerophon. There is more than one narrator, and sometimes there is some comic disagreement about whose story it is, anyway. This is clever and very amusing, though in my humble opinion, there were parts that went on a bit long--but then, the author does seem to be pointing out that--some tales do go on too long. I [...]

    20. John Barth's Chimera is a playful, oblique set of three linked novellas. I have a fondness for Scheherazade/The Thousand and One Nights, so the Dunyazadiad was a perfect literary appetizer. It's fun, thoughtful, well crafted and easily accessible. I recommend it to anyone who loves reading. Beyond that, the novellas become increasingly obtuse, more analytical and more rewarding. That being written, the Perseid is a mostly straight forward examination of middle-aged mythic hero stuck in a rut. Th [...]

    21. 'We need a miracle, Doonyd the only genies I've ever met were in stories, not in Moorman's rings and Jew's Lamps. It's in words that the magic is- Abracadabra, Open Sesame, and the rest- but the magic words in one story aren't magical in the next. The real magic is to understand which words work, and when, and for what. The trick is to learn the trick.'Too clever by half. I wonder if it is too bawdy to be post-modern, whatever that means. Writing about writing isn't necessarily meta-; Then every [...]

    22. Стана ми любима от първата страница. Защото вътре са и Приказките на Шехерезада, и митовете за Персей и Горгоната Медуза, и за Белерофонт и Химера. И разсъжденията на един мъж от ХХ век за секса, любовта, съпружеството и изкуството на писането и разказването. Чудовищно добра [...]


    24. Here, again, Barth shows himself to be the great postmodern experimentalist that he is. Chimera is a set of three novellas, each a pseudo-retelling of a myth (if one counts Scheherazade's narration of the Thousand and One Nights as a myth). (Why a pseudo-retelling? Well, as Barth makes clear, the nature of myths is that there's no Ur-myth; all myth is Form, no myth is Ideal.) These novellas are narrated by Dunyazade, Perseus, and Bellerophon respectively, but then also they're regularly broken i [...]

    25. Three, linked novellas. Each one smarter than the last. Yet somehow worse too. The first one, the Dunyazadiad, is the highlight with all sorts of interesting ideas of modern gender dynamics as related to the thousand year old tales of One Thousand and One Nights. This is the promise of Barth's lofty ambition fulfilled. Great! Then we have the Perseid. Again, interesting ideas here, and an even more clever reimagining of the myth of Perseus. But Barth starts to reveal himself more and more in the [...]

    26. "I'm full of voices, all mine, none me."This book is a work of absolute genius. Love it or hate it, no one could deny that Barth's mind is astonishing. Chimera's complex layering, nesting, spiraling, and spinning, its stories-within-stories-within-stories, its use of palimpsest, pastiche, and collage will leave me reeling for days. A deliciously mind-bending piece of metafiction that will make you think about myth, narrative, and the self in entirely new ways.

    27. Wellere's no denying it: I DID kinda love this. The mythological deconstruction is a hoot and a half--although I don't think I'm ever not going to find the way Barth writes about sex off-putting. Still, now I've read Barth's first six books, so there's no excuse not to move on to LETTERS.

    28. RGB Challenge 2: PULITZER PRIZE/NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER: CHIMERA by John Barton, National Book Award Winner 1972. Substitute Row 3, 4 down: That you think you will dislike

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