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The Helmet of Horror: The Myth of Theseus and the Minotaur (Myth Series) [Hardcover]

Victor Pelevin , Andrew Bromfield
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 2006 Myth Series
Labyrinth 1 is 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.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books (April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841957607
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841957609
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 12.2 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,175,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"'A psychedelic Nabokov for the cyber age' TIME MAGAZINE 'Pelevin is one of the funniest novelists writing today' NEW STATESMAN 'What is truly stunning is the whole-cloth originality of Pelevin's vision... A virtuoso performance, at times as deep-hearted as a Tchaikovsky pas de deux, at others as light-fingered as "The Flight of the Bumblebee'" LOS ANGELES TIMES 'One of the greatest pleasures of Pelevin's writing is the perfectly pitched irony of his narrative voice, which pokes fun at his characters but never abandons sympathy for them' GUARDIAN" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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3 Hours Unabridged --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Canongate Myth series continues with a retelling of the story of Theseus, the Minotaur and the labyrinth. So far this series has seen authors drawing upon the original source of the legend, and weaving their own narrative threads. The Odyssey was retold from Penelope's point of view, whilst the story of Samson focused on a shorter slice of the overall myth. Victor Pelevin took the challenge of the Cretian horror of the half man, half bull Minotaur, and rather than retelling completely reinvents the story.

There are certain continuities. Theseus, the Minotaur and Ariadne are named characters, albeit only the latter enjoying anything like a major piece of the action. Living up to her mythical namesake she spins the thread of the narrative, guiding us around Pelevin's post-modern take on the labyrinth. The major continuity is the concept of the labyrinth, a trapping, twisting, contained environment. This twenty-first century retelling sees the reader take the role of a passive observer to a chat room conversation.

The initial bursts of conversation between the trapped residents of the labyrinth are confused, but gradually a fuller picture of the reality of their imprisonment emerges. Each resident is lodged in a nearly-identical cell, with their own personal labyrinth located beyond the door to their cell. The identity of those responsible for this confinement is not revealed, and the novel instead deviates into an explanation of the nature of the world they now inhabit.

The chat-room format lends an urgency and pace to the novel, which means it can be devoured. It may need re-reading, as you find yourself skipping some of the lengthier, but vital, `posts' that build up the crucial metaphysical and philosophical messages.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing 22 Mar 2006
By "svesk"
Pelevin weaves a fascinating tale, built on the myth of Theseus, the Minotaur and the labyrinth. He places a number of people in identical cells, each with their very own especially designed labyrinth outside. The story plays out before our eyes, in the form of a chat room conversation. You as a reader are a lurcher, reading the conversations of others, only atching and waiting. They, on the other hand, are active (more or less), working on finding out what their situation is, how to get out of their labyrinth and who their captor is. They are continuously being fed information, but cannot be sure what to trust...
Pelevin plays with language and form and manages to give each character its unique voice, while at the same time asking the Big Questions about our existence and the essence of Being and Truth.
So far the most original and interesting of the myth series books.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling but confusing 31 Dec 2006
Don't expect to understand this book on the first or even the second reading. It twists and turns and you can never completely see what's going on, much like the many labyrinths within its pages. It's post-modern in the best sense of the word, taking the idea of the Minotaur as guardian of the labyrinth and basically running with it. Pelevin has a lot of fun playing with language and perception, although these aren't the only issues discussed within the book.

Buy this if you're a fan of intelligent and offbeat writing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This novel gives the appearance of being very accessible - and it is: it's written in (chatroom-style) dialogue throughout, as well as having some very amusing moments, making it a very quick read. Don't be fooled, though, as there is a lot to think about, and you'll probably want to read it again by the time you finish, to get your head around some of the ideas. Admittedly it's an abstract concept, but it's redeemed by its sense of humour, and well worth a look if you're bored with standard, formulaic novels, or just in the mood for a bit of a challenge.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Sam Woodward TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
Picture the scene - you wake up in a strange room, dressed in ancient Greek clothing, with no idea of how you got there. There is a keyboard & monitor which you can use to chat with several other people who are in the same predicament; but who are they? Can you trust them? There is also a door which opens into a surreal labyrinth. But someone else in the chatroom has had strange dreams about a Minotaur wearing a fearsome Helmet Of Horror, so do you really want to poke around out there? And why is this all happening anyway?

The Helmet Of Horror is a surreal modern reworking of the ancient Greek myth. Pelevin really goes to town with this material, fusing a tense atmosphere with a parody of banal internet forums & heaps of philosophical musings on the nature of consciousness & the symbolism of mazes. This short book is crammed full of thought-provoking analogies - the ways we lose ourselves in the internal mazes of our minds, the Christian use of labyrinths in Cathedral grounds, the inability to seek 'truth' in an age where information & communication are abundant.

All these twisting passages make The Helmet Of Horror a demanding read & an utterly rewarding one for those who don't get lost. Those expecting an atmospheric thriller about monsters will quickly lose their way but in my view, this is by far the most exciting of the Canongate Myth series - the most exciting book I've read all year, in fact. I look forward to re-reading it over again in the years to come.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good
I think I'm with some other people when I say I didn't necessarily "like" this book, opposed to the fact that I understood it. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Miss Caddy
3.0 out of 5 stars Stuck in the Labyrinth of the Intranet
I got this book as present from a Russian blogger friend. Not sure I would have picked it from a shelf. Some reviewers report they swallowed the text quickly, like in two hours ... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Ashen Venema
4.0 out of 5 stars Cyber-age Minotaur Myth
This is a reinterpretation of Theseus and the minotaur from the canongate myth series, with lots of cyber-age philosophy thrown in and is written exclusively is comments from a... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Susan Rose
2.0 out of 5 stars ok
I found the book disappointing as I bought it on a recommendation from a friend.
It was not what i was expecting.
Published 21 months ago by G Melling
5.0 out of 5 stars "I shall construct a labyrinth in which I can lose myself, together...
Picture the scene - you wake up in a strange room, dressed in ancient Greek clothing, with no idea of how you got there. Read more
Published on 29 Dec 2009 by Sam Woodward
2.0 out of 5 stars Not impressed
The synopsis alone is enough to dissuade me from buying this book, and I've a research degree in mythology and psychology. It's a passion with me. Read more
Published on 30 Mar 2008 by M.I.
2.0 out of 5 stars Lost in cyberspace
A clever enough book, perhaps a little to clever for it's own good. It recreates the challenge of the labyrinth in cyberspace, but unfortunately the sense of danger or ultimate... Read more
Published on 1 May 2007 by Deoradh
5.0 out of 5 stars Original
Victor Pelevin once again questions existence in this original twist of the minotaur myth. Written as a conversation in a chat room Pelevin manages to mix modern day youth culture... Read more
Published on 8 Aug 2006 by Chicken of Greatness
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