Chimera Background

Chimera Background

John Barth's cerebral novel Chimera (1972) is made up of three seperate but loosely connected novellas: Dunyazadiad, Perseid, and Bellerophoniad. The three novels mirror the way that the mythical Chimera is a hybrid creature composed of three animals (usually a lion, a goat, and a snake). Each title refers to the mythical characters Dunyazad, Perseus and Bellerophon (who slays the mythical Chimera). The Dunyazadiad is a retelling of the story of Scheherazade; The Perseid follows Greek hero Perseus in his struggle to obtain immortality; The Bellerophoniad tells the story of Bellerophon, another ancient Greek hero.

Upon release, Chimera was met with critical acclaim. Critics zeroed in on Barth's crisp writing and biting satire. Additionally, it shared the prestigious U.S. National Book Award for Fiction with Augustus by John Edward Williams. However, the novel has not held up well with the general public, as it holds poor reviews on many sites, including Goodreads and Amazon. Additional information on the novel can be found on Google Books.

Chimera further cemented John Barth as one of the leading writers in the postmodernism genre, more specially the metafiction subgenre, furthering solidified his status as a premier writer.

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