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61 Reviews
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80 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'll never look at an eggplant the same way again
If you've read the book, then you know exactly what I'm talking about and are probably doubled over in laughter just at the mention of it . . . if you haven't, well there's just one more reason to start reading this. Widely considered Barth's best novel (I'm very much a novice with him, this being only my second book so I'm no man to judge) I can easily see why it...
Published on January 14, 2002 by Michael Battaglia

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14 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars To the Greater Glory of Barth
The Sot-Weed Factor is Barth's attempt to mockingly simulate the so-called picaresque novel of the 18th century. There are several problems with the book. First, the books, he mocks such as Henry Fielding's Joseph Andrews and Shamela (Penguin Classics) are far better than The Sot-Weed Factor. Barth's book is otiose, self-indulgent, and absurdly long. The reader gets the...
Published on October 25, 2010 by Douglas S. Wood


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5.0 out of 5 stars Barth is a virtuoso, and this book is a *real* treat., August 28, 1997
By A Customer
Barth is terrificaly smart. He's a gymnast, a virtuoso and, at times, just too too overwhelming.

But, if you're like me, the first paragraph will transfix you with its beauty and incredibly long, curly-cued sentence. And from there you'll learn a truly different story of Pocohantas (sp?), and you'll laugh out loud -- often and even if you don't usually -- with story after story. You might find yourself skipping some of the 800 or so pages, but that's only out of exhaustion.

And did I mention that you'll read about a lot of lusty swithing?

It's long, but it's a really great journey. Highly recommended.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Preposterous Hero and His Profound Journey, August 15, 2000
By A Customer
John Barth takes a string of yarn and spins it into a luminous quilt of pure joy! "The Sot-Weed Factor" is filled with hilarious scenes and endearing characters. It pays tribute to classical literature and satirizes it at the same time, leaving the reader in stitches. The epitome of a comic tale with a tragic hero, perhaps no other novel in this half of the twentieth century can teach us so much about human beings and the world around us by way of unrelenting satire as this emphatic, epic masterpiece.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Insanely funny and wonderfully erudite!, March 11, 1998
By A Customer
This is the funniest book I have ever read by far. Many times I had to stop reading because I was doubled over with laughter. Eben Cooke, the protagonist, goes through an astonishing series of travails as he loses his innocence. The wordplay alone is delightful-people are 'swived' and 'bastinadoed' throughout, and the 'Privie Journall' contains hilarious archaic spellings ('fry'dd',etc.). Sadly, Barth's later work is more interesting than entertaining as story. But this is a masterpiece.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like the tide, Barth's stories cleanse and refresh our life, July 11, 1996
By A Customer
I suppose it is inevitable that, as the post-war boomers approach the big six-zero over the next decade, we will see a tidal flood of tender, soul-searching narratives. Boomers want to understand rather than simply experience life, and most have been frustrated by life's refusal to obey our expectations.

John Barth seems to have made such soul searching his life work, and I seem to have followed him book for book, life experience by life experience over the years.
A clever "academic" writer (read: "he writes like a dream but his wit sometimes overwhelms the story"), Barth has addressed boomer experience and frailty .

Seeming to be five to ten years ahead of boomers, his books have ranged from the tragedy resulting from a terribly botched abortion (long before we openly spoke of this horror), through the visionary and usually misguided quest of the idealist (Sot-Weed Factor and Giles Goatboy), the terrible pain of realizing one is an adult (the clever but exhausting Letters), to more leisurely and accessible mid-life reassessment as protagonists take "voyages" on the emotional seascape of middle age (Sabbatical, Tidewater Tales, Last Voyage of Somebody the Sailor, Once upon a Time...).

Each five years or so, I eagerly await his newest offering, devour it, and then feel frustrated when his literary games seem to detract from his story.
But, then, each time I realize (as if for the first time), the essential nature of his writing. Like the age-old games from which his writings spring (the quest/redemption stories of the Iliad and Oddessy, the "doomed" prophet stories of the Old and New Testaments, the mistaken identity games of Shakespeare and thousands of authors since, and the metaphor of story as voyage and voyage as growth from Chaucer, 1001 Nights, etc), Barth plays his games to remind us that the act of story telling *is* the experience, it *is* the reason we read: the experience of hearing ghost stories around the camp fire remains with us long long after we have forgotten the actual story.
And then I remember that, as a reader, I have no more "right" to expect neatness and closure in a Barth story than I have the right to expect neatness and closure in my own life. Try as we might, our own work, our own story is always in progress. And like Barth's beloved Tidewater, the ebb and flow of our own story defies our attempt to capture to master it.
In the end, life and Barth's stories remain as delightfully cleansing as the tide itself.
KRH [...]
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5.0 out of 5 stars I am readin it ain wioth great pleasure--one of the funniest novels ever---and am back to ..., July 3, 2014
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This review is from: The Sot-Weed Factor (Hardcover)
I have read this book many times in the last 45 years and somehow lost my original copy--maybe loaned it out. I am reading it again with great pleasure--one of the funniest novels ever---and am back to recommending it to reader friends. The "real" story of Pochahantas and John Smith will have you on the floor laughing and the two whores calling each other names--well I will not spoil it for you. Just read it, especially if you enjoyed books like Tom Jones.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Shame this isn't available on Kindle, October 8, 2013
I read The Sot Weed Factor a long time ago and enjoyed it very much. I wish it were available on Kindle so I could read it again. Another of Barth's that you should read after this one is The Voyage of Somebody the Sailor, also not available on Kindle.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A classic work of fiction, August 30, 2013
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Sam Simmonds (Hornsby, NSW, AU) - See all my reviews
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I first read this book over forty years ago and was very impressed. Having lost my only copy a long time ago, I was delighted to receive a second copy. The Sot-weed Factor is a most unusual book, not only from the author's excellent command of English, but also his ability to adopt a writing style from an earlier epoch and to carry that throughout this long and absorbing tale.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A hilarious book, January 28, 2008
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A hilarious book. One of the most absurdly funny books I've read. The challenge is the length and the sprawl of the book, along with occasionally bizarre (and hilarious) situations.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing tale, November 18, 2014
I guess it is stupid to write a review that basically says "you have to read it, as it cannot be accurately described", but that is the truth. You will come away amazed at the erudite genius that created such a world of fiction.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An unbelievable tour de force, January 26, 1998
I first read the book at 17, then at least twice more as an adult. It is simply a masterpiece on almost every level. It is not realistic, nor is it meant to be. No lover of fiction should miss this book.
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The Sot-Weed Factor
The Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth (Hardcover - June 1967)
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