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The Helmet of Horror: The Myth of Theseus and the Minotaur

3.41 of 5 stars 3.41  ·  rating details  ·  1,569 ratings  ·  128 reviews
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 21st century, yet instilled with the figures and narratives of classical mythology.
Paperback, New edition, 274 pages
Published December 23rd 2006 by Canongate Books (first published 2005)
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Riku Sayuj

The Hungry Labyrinth

Thread #00000001: Started by ARIADNE at xxx p.m. xxx xxx BC GMT

‘No one realised that the book and the labyrinth were one and the same …’ – who said thIs and about what?


What’s going on? Where am I?

Hi? Is there anyone else here …?
Pls reply ...

I see that I have been "liked". What does that mean?
This is weird.

I'm here - can't you hear my voice echoing down the labyrinth of years..

The Helmet of Horror is what I called the spongiform cap of my third eye during the period when I had a nasty urinary tract infection. It is also Russian writer Victor Pelevin's contribution to the Canongate series of modern authorial reinterpretations of the classic myths—in this particular case, that of Theseus and the Minotaur. In a marvelous bit of inspiration, Pelevin has opted to set his tale within a singular textual thread—geddit?—scrolling upon a computer screen and generated by a handf ...more
This book is a total mindf*ck. - Thoughts on The Helmet of Horror by Victor Pelevin (translated from Russian by Andrew Bromfield)

Here’s the thing: I don’t know what to feel about this book. It frustrates me; it frustrates me to no end after reading. You see, I didn’t get it. No, that's not true, because I did, really, generally get it. But that’s the thing, see – it’s the surface things that I understood, but for anyone who’s ever read Victor Pelevin, there’s always more to his books, and The He
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Catherine Woodman
I did not love this but it was very clever.
In The Helmet of Horror Victor Pelevin re-sets the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur in a very modern setting -- what has the appearance of an Internet chatroom. After a 'Mythcellaneous' prologue, the entire text consists of dialogue, between a group of people who find themselves in similar mysterious circumstances, isolated, and connected only to each other via computer screen and keyboard.
It's not quite the Internet but it's quite a group, and it al
Riina Ojanen
Nyt olen vakuuttunut. Ja hämmentynyt, mutta pääosin vakuuttunut. Pelevinin Kauhukypärän sivuilla yhdeksän henkilöä keskustelee reaaliaikaisessa chatissä, josta ei ole kuitenkaan pääsyä internettiin. Heidät on lukittu pieniin koppeihin, joista ulos johtavan oven takana on jokaiselle erilainen labyrintti. Ja labyrintissä asuu tietenkin hurja Minotauros, mutta missä on alkuperäisen tarinan sankari Theseus?

Kirjassa seurataan käytännössä vain hahmojen chattikeskustelua, kun he kertovat omista kokemuk
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 ... Huh. I took little bites over several weeks, alternating the read with several other books I dip into before bedtime.
Characters emerge during dialogues reflecting back to them their discourse, which revolves round aimlessly seeking explanations, sharing hallucinations and possible ways out of the labyrinth, a pun on
Okay, so this book makes you work hard. Instead of just describing the plight of people stuck in a confusing and challenging thought experiment of co-existing contradictory truth states and partial revelations, Pelevin actually makes you experience this yourself.

I underestimated the mental energy required for this book - I snuggled into bed late at night, realising it was written as a series of online discussion threads, thinking it would be nice, wind-down reading. Instead, I found I had to sta
I could not put this book down! I loved it! It was so interesting and clever. But it's not the type of book that everyone would like.

A group of very different people are locked into a labyrinth that reflects their own personalities. They can communicate with each other through an online chatroom. The text of the book is what they write to each other as they're trying to figure out how they got there and why they're there.

I was a little disappointed in the ending. Like a deflated wet balloon, b
S.j. Hirons
Interesting up to a point.
Molly Dickinson (Editorial Intern, Tin House Magazine): Imagine waking up in a room that might be a hotel room and might be a prison cell. There’s an impenetrable metal door, and a computer built into the wall that allows the only form of communication with the other inhabitants/prisoners: a chat room forum. Oh, and you have no memory of how you got there. Disoriented yet? That’s how we meet the characters of Victor Pelevin’s The Helmet of Horror, a stunning re-imagining of the classic myth of T ...more
Canongate Myths series. Ugh. So much more could have been done with this book - it's structured like a chat room, but for no discernable reason other than to make the story take place in a "virtual" world. You would think that the nature of hypertext would lend great things to the narrative, but it's completely linear. The whole thing reads like a high school freshman's version of a Socratic dialogue.

Allegedly, A.S. Byatt, Chinua Achebe and Donna Tartt have or will have books in this series, but
Here's an interesting read, a philosophical inquiry in the form of an internet chatroom discussion. Attempting to tell a story in a format like this is sure to lead to ruin or, at a meager best, sophmoric cliche. Do not read this if you are at all interested in rereading the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. It is, instead, a book-length conversation that probes the concepts of reality, thought construction, and free-will. That Pelevin chooses to peel back the layers of such lofty abstractions i ...more
Not knowing the original myth in detail, there were times when my mind struggled to understand what and why was being implied by everything that was said by the characters in the modern retelling and in the end the book probably left me with more questions than answers. But this was probably the reason why the book drew me in so much I was not able to put it down until I had read it all.

The style in which the book is written - as a chat room - is quite unique and at the same time mundane in this
Jul 25, 2007 Lura rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: other philosophy dorks
This is a very philsophical and abstract retelling of Theseus and the Minotaur. It oozes existentialism; the feel was exactly the same for me as Sartre's No Exit. It's more of a thought exercise than a story, and some passages are difficult to process...I think it would've been an arduous read without some background in philosophy. But if philosophy is your thing, then there are some very clever little twists in here, and the concept is fantastic. I got a huge kick out of the tale itself as a ch ...more
Eight people wake up and find themselves alone, each one is in a room with a bed, a bathroom, a computer screen and keyboard, and a locked door. They can only chat with each other in a computer chat room. It seems that they are all caught in the labyrinth, held captive by the minotaur. The entire book is written as a chat room conversation. Each character explores their own personal labyrinth and reports what they find to the group. Pelevin explores different kinds of labyrinths and different ph ...more
I really enjoyed reading this, but I am not sure I’d recommend it to anyone; I’d have to be very sure of the things they like to read, because I guess a lot of people would thing it is pants. I wasn’t sure what to expect. A good friend thought it would be my cup of tea, so I just added it to my wishlist. I must say this particular friend knows me really well, because I loved it. It really sits quite outside all the other titles from Canongate’s Myth Series in the sense that this is not conventio ...more
This idea is so incredibly cool that it would have had writing akin to Jude the Obscure for me to give it anything lower than 3 stars. It was actually incredible engaging and I read most of it in one sitting.

I don't know exactly what the problem is, but there's something mildly off here. Looking back, I'm wondering why I haven't given in 4 stars; it was everything a retelling should be- close enough to the original to make it relevant but different enough to add a new layer of depth (not to men
At first I thought I might like this, but as it turned out, I was wrong. The course of events was as follows: I went from hopeful to bored and near gave up and dropped the book, because, apparently, this author's style doesn't suit me. At all. I've previously read The Life of Insects, and now, after The Helmet of Horror: The Myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, I won't try to keep on these tracks anymore. It is very possible I just don't "get" what the big deal was, and I confess I was a bit lost a ...more
A sly discourse on the many meanings of the Minotaur; an allegory, a true look at ourselves, maybe even an imposition from an outside source. Not a good read though, a good reading of the Minotaur myth with comments from others would be more comprehensive, and easier than a chat room weirdfest
Only "The Myth of Theseus and the Minotaur" in the sense that it's framed by the themes of that myth; "A Philosophical Discourse of the Labyrinth and Reality" would have been a better title, and then I would have been expecting this story instead of a fresh take on the mythology I know. There's also something in the tone, something that says "Look how clever I am by writing this!", that I just don't like. When the author's ego gets involved, I tend to dismiss everything they've said. That being ...more
4.5 stars. I'm not a philosopher, and I don't remember everything from the classes I took in college, but it did remind me of a modern-day (albeit cast with a horror-survival sheen) take on Sartre's No Exit.
Philosophic with clever and humorous twists. I enjoyed reading it, even though I honestly didn't understand everything. I liked the chatroom format, which brought together a group of people, each with a unique mindset, representing parts of the Helmet of Horror. They were compelled to discuss a common myth, yet envisaged it within their own mental matrices.

As far as I'm concerned, the heart of the story was about understanding ourselves, our perception of reality, and how we think/behave throug
I have an uncorrected proof of this book from such times as I used to pinch such crumbs from Jessa's table. As it has been languishing on my shelves for many years, that makes it a good candidate for my to-read challenge, and reading Winterson's Weight not long ago sparked my interest in the Canongate Mythology series. So here we are.

I knew really nothing about Theseus and the Minotaur before reading this book, which I'm sure didn't help anything at all. In this book everything is up for interp
I... did not enjoy this book. At all, really. Perhaps it is better in Russian. The Helmet of Horror is ostensibly a retelling of the myth of Theseus and the minotaur, but, in reality, it is not. At all.

The book is written in chatlog format as the main characters' only method of communication is an instant messenger. They have all found themselves in ancient Greek garb, in individual rooms/cells with differing exteriors. Despite early promise, these labyrinths were not compelling, and, frankly,
Vanessa Wolf
It was okay. I guess. Look, the idea is very clever, and maybe something got left behind or added because of translation, but by page 122 I wanted everyone to get picked off one by one. Rarely do I want the entire cast of a book to die, but in this case I think it might've been the last resort to make it interesting. The problem I faced with this book pertained to a lot of spiffy ideas: mind as labyrinth, dreams as maps, chatrooms/dialog as labyrinth, etc... not being executed in either in an in ...more
This is one of those books that I feel unqualified to enjoy completely. Perhaps I'll have to study and read it again. It's enjoyable as-is, but I know there are some subtle references in there that I totally missed.

The concept is unique as hell. Written in a chatroom style and having no chapters, this book is very easy to read. There's no descriptions to wade through, just the characters' descriptions of their own laybrinths and experiences -- which can get tedious at times. The conversations fe
Nick Fagerlund

So okay, this is a riff on the story of Theseus and the Minotaur except it actually reads more like a riff on Cube and N.K. Jemisin's "Too Many Yesterdays, Not Enough Tomorrows." And then in the last ten pages or so, it goes somewhere EVEN MORE curious.

And I'm still trying to figure out exactly what happened and what it meant. It's a puzzle-box of a book.

(view spoiler)
Natasha Borton
I think "like" is the completely wrong word to use in relation to this book. I understand is a better phrase and description. Those who have already read it will know what I mean and those who don't are going to think I'm insane.
The philosophy behind it is cliché, everyone has always said the same thing (I wont spoil it by telling any new readers) however the way Pelevin chooses to entice the reader into his way of thinking is very unique... but it doesn't always work. I found this book hard t
Ivo Stunga
Vienā aizraujošā piegājienā izlasīju tulkotu Viktora Peļevina darbu “Šausmu ķivere” (Виктор Олегович Пелевин "Шлем ужаса", 2005)
Atšķīru nejaušu darba lapaspusi un uz mani savādām acīm lūkojās dīvaina darba struktūra, kuras analogs varētu būt scenārijs vai luga.
Nedaudz palasīju un redzēju, ka tēlu vārdi ir fiksēti aizdomīgi familiārā manierē, kura bija savādā kontekstā, ņemot vērā to, ka turu rokās grāmatu.

Nolēmu izlasīt prologu:
"Viņi nekad nav satikušies, viņiem ir dīvaini "niki", viņi dzīvo id
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aka Виктор Олегович Пелевин (Rus)

"Victor Olegovich Pelevin is a Russian fiction writer. His books usually carry the outward conventions of the science fiction genre, but are used to construct involved, multi-layered postmodernist texts, fusing together elements of pop culture and esoteric philosophies. Some critics relate his prose to the New Sincerity and New Realism literary movements." (Wikipe
More about Victor Pelevin...
Omon Ra The Sacred Book of the Werewolf Generation "П". Повести. Рассказы The Life of Insects Buddha's Little Finger

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“Не лысый, а стриженный наголо. Это большая разница. Лысеют от безысходности, а наголо стригутся из самоуважения” 3 likes
Мама. Когда я слышу слово «дискурс», я хватаюсь за свой симулякр.”
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