Friday, May 16, 2014

Reading: Giles Goat-Boy by John Barth

Moving slowly through the books published in 1966 in 1001 Books To Read... my next novel is John Barth's Giles Goat-Boy. An enigmatic title alright! Barth is described as having "comic genius" as he tells the tale of Billy Bockbuss "saved as a baby from the belly of a super-computer and raised at the teat of a goat."


Born in the USA in 1930 and now aged 83, John "Jack" Barth's first book in 1956 was The Floating Opera which was a National Book Award finalist, followed by The End of the Road (1958) and The Sot-Weed Factor (1960) which marked his discovery of Postmodernism.

In Giles Goat-Boy, a lengthy novel, the protagonist carries out all the tasks described by the mythologist Joseph Campbell in his non-fictional work The Hero With a Thousand Faces. In this book Campbell explores the theory that myths over thousands of years follow a basic structure. Amongst many other artists, the director George Lucas's debt to this book in influencing his Star Wars films is well documented.

 reprint book cover with the image of Hamill as Luke Skywalker near the bottom right corner

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