"The Sot-Weed Factor" is originally a satirical poem, written by a certain Ebenezer Cooke, and is among the earliest pieces of literature to come out of the newly settled America. John Barth has borrowed the name of both author and work, and has sculptured a beautiful work, a grand tale about small and greater men. The characters are diverse, and the striking technique of Mr Barth makes them all come alive. The plotline is too complicated to explain in full, but still easy to follow, and the passages about an earlier journey around Chesapeake bay are hilarious, written in an English only a scholar could contrive (Mr Barth is a professor of English). And for all of those who like good, old-fashioned storytelling from which you may actually learn something, the tale of Ebenezer's (I know him so well that I only use his first name) awowed innocence, with the disastrous results it has for himself and others, gives an opportunity to ponder this aspect of human existenc.