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The Helmet of Horror: The Myth of Theseus and the Minotaurby Victor Pelevin
Synopses & Reviews
Labyrinth 1. An intricate structure of intercommunicating passages, through which it is difficult to find one's way without a clue; a maze.
They have never met, they have been assigned strange pseudonyms, they inhabit identical rooms which open out onto very different landscapes, and they have entered into a dialogue which they cannot escape — a discourse defined and destroyed by the Helmet of Horror. Its wearer is the dominant force they call Asterisk, a force for good and ill in which the Minotaur is forever present and Theseus is the great unknown.
Victor Pelevin has created a mesmerising world where the surreal and the hyperreal collide. The Helmet of Horror is structured according to the Internet exchanges of the twenty-first century, yet instilled with the figures and narratives of classical mythology. It is a labyrinthine examination of epistemological uncertainty that radically reinvents the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur for an age where information is abundant but knowledge is ultimately unattainable.
"In the Greek myth, Ariadne, the daughter of Minos of Crete, falls in love with Theseus and helps him kill the fearsome Minotaur, a half-bull, half-human monster trapped in the center of a vast labyrinth. Armed with the sword that she supplies and holding the end of a thread that marks his path, Theseus kills the beast and makes his way back out. As his addition to the Myths series, celebrated Russian novelist Pelevin creates a brilliant new telling of the myth: a group of strangers find themselves in a modern-day labyrinth, trapped in identical rooms, given archetypal screen names and able to interact only through a chatroom thread begun by one 'Ariadne.' The figures who inhabit this doomed maze are drawn from many sources, for instance, 'Romeo-y-Cohiba' and 'IsoldA' both look for love, but are stymied when they try to find it with each other. All are haunted by the 'Helmet of Horror,' which is both the machine that controls their destiny and the mind that creates the machine, and there is no Theseus to save them. Pelevin has updated this myth in an absurd and terrifying metaphysical consideration of the labyrinths in which we all find ourselves and the traps we willingly enter as we move through our lives." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The classical myth is reinterpreted with black-comic brio in this odd new novel....Admirers of Pelevin's fiction should attempt it. But it's too much of a maze — and there's nothing to show the way out." Kirkus Reviews
"The Helmet of Horror is funny, sportive, possibly meaningful, and preoccupied with Pelevin's interest in reality, virtuality and deceptive surfaces..." The Independent (U.K.)
"Pelevin is a highly inventive writer with a sharp, jaundiced eye and an anarchic sensibility....It's all moderately engaging, but it doesn't do justice to his own particular gifts." The Guardian (U.K.)
"For a mind-expanding, surreally funny experience, it's worth getting lost here." Scotland on Sunday
"As often with Pelevin, this book is a mixture of the witty, the brilliant and the barking mad." Daily Telegraph (U.K.)
"The Helmet of Horror is a brilliant postmodern, eclectic vision of myth, mind and meaning. And of the human dilemma and its horns, ancient and modern." The Times (London)
"The novel may seem airy-fairy, and Dr Johnson would give it a good kick, but it presents ideas that the wider European mind finds useful, and it is sharp, funny and, what's the word, numinous." Sunday Times (London)
A cyber-age retelling of the Myth of Theseus and the Minotaur by one of Russia's most exciting young writers. The first 2006 title to be published in the ground breaking Myths series.
Victor Pelevin, the wildly interesting contemporary Russian novelist whom the New Yorker named one of the Best European Writers Under 35, upends any conventional notions of what mythology must be with his unique take on the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. By creating a mesmerizing world where the surreal and the hyperreal collide, The Helmet of Horror is a radical retelling of the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur set in an Internet chat room.
A radical retelling of the Myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, set in an internet chat room, is as iconoclastic as it is compellingly readable. Part of Canongate's heralded Myths series.
About the Author
Victor Pelevin has established a reputation as one of the most interesting of the younger generation of Russian writers. He has degrees from Moscow's Gorky Institute of Literature and has written for the New York Times Magazine, Granta, and Open City. His previous novels include The Victor Clay Machine and The Life of Insects.
Andrew Bromfield is a regular translator from the Russian, and has translated works by Boris Akunin, Vladimir Voinovich and Irina Denezhkina, as well as other titles by Victor Pelevin.
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