1972 1st Edition. Near Fine/Fine.
"At this point I interrupted my sister as usual to say, 'You have a way with words, Scheherazade. This is the thousandth night I've sat at the foot of your bed while you and the King made love and you told him stories, and the one in progress holds me like a genie's gaze.'"
The speaker here is Dunyazade, kid sister of Scheherazade of The Thousand and One Nights, who has her own way with words. There is also Perseus, the demigod who slew the Gorgon Medusa, and yet finds himself at forty "sea-leveled, parched and plucked, every grain in my molted sandals raising blisters, and beleaguered by the serpents of my past." And Bellerophon, the hero who tames the winged horse Pegasus only to discover, "My life's a failure. I'm not a mythic hero. I never will be."
Like the Chimera of myth, which had a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail, they are all joined into a single, dazzling whole that is, in a sense, the culmination of all the John Barth's work thus far, transforming myth into daily reality and vice versa.
"To the objection that classical mythology, like the Bible, is no longer a staple of the average reader's education and that, consequently, the old agonies of Oedipus or Antigone are without effect on contemporary sensibility, I reply, hum, I forget what, something about comedy and self-explanatory context."
The reader needs no previous acquaintance with the characters to be caught up in this hilariously exuberant exploration of the nature of the hero, the multitudinous relationships between men and women, and the mortal search for immortality, which, it is persuasively suggested, may lie not in deeds but in words.