Ry Pickard's Reviews > The Sot-Weed Factor

The Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth
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Apr 30, 12

Read from April 04 to 28, 2012

in the late 1600s, a british poet named ebenezer cooke wrote a scathing satirical poem about maryland and its inhabitants, but not much is known about his life story. this book is a fictionalized account of his experiences and how he came to be inclined to rake maryland and its people over the coals. it was easily one of the funniest books i’ve ever read. it’s written in this really lofty, high-flown king's english, which makes it feel kind of like you’re reading a charles dickens adaptation of don quixote. cooke shows up in the states with every intention of writing a “marylandiad” that will glorify the state for all eternity, but quickly becomes disillusioned as he runs afoul of the huge cast of characters that he encounters, including pirates, prostitutes, con men, thieves, drug dealers, revolutionaries, prostitutes, smugglers, spies, corrupt politicians, bandits, adventurers, and more prostitutes. a lot of the humor comes from the fact that the poet has no worldly experience whatsoever when he sets out, so he gets worked over by all of these people in the worst possible ways; it’s relentlessly funny. humor notwithstanding, it also works really well as historical fiction, especially since it delves into a side of colonial times that you don’t normally see exposed. i can’t recommend this one highly enough.
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Quotes Ry Liked

John Barth
“All men are loyal, but their objects of allegiance are at best approximate.”
John Barth, The Sot-Weed Factor


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