Goodreads ratings
3.72 / 5

"Chimera" Summary

By John Barth

fiction | 288 pages | Published in 2019


Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A scientist creates a deadly creature that threatens humanity.


In this thrilling novel, "Chimera," author John Barth takes readers on a multi-layered journey through time and space. With his signature literary style, Barth weaves together multiple narratives and perspectives to explore themes of identity, storytelling, and the nature of reality. This complex and thought-provoking novel challenges readers to question their own perception of the world and pushes the boundaries of traditional storytelling.

Brief Synopsis

The setting of "Chimera" is a world that exists outside of our own reality. The story is divided into three separate but interconnected narratives, each with its own unique setting and characters. These narratives include the tales of Dunyazadiad, Perseid, and Bellerophoniad, each inspired by classic mythological stories.

In "Dunyazadiad," the protagonist Dunyazad is a character from the classic Arabian Nights tales. She embarks on a quest to find her missing sister Scheherazad, venturing through a landscape filled with mythical creatures and encountering various challenges along the way.

"Perseid" follows the story of Perseus, the hero from Greek mythology who slayed the Gorgon Medusa. In this narrative, Perseus embarks on a journey to rescue Andromeda, who is about to be sacrificed to a sea monster.

Lastly, "Bellerophoniad" revolves around the legend of Bellerophon, who tames the winged horse Pegasus and battles various monsters including the Chimera, a creature with the head of a lion, body of a goat, and tail of a serpent. Bellerophon's quest takes him to a kingdom ruled by King Job, where he becomes embroiled in a web of political intrigue.

Main Characters

DunyazadProtagonist in "Dunyazadiad," on a quest to find her missing sister
PerseusHeroic figure in "Perseid," rescues Andromeda from a sea monster
BellerophonProtagonist in "Bellerophoniad," tames Pegasus and battles monsters
ScheherazadDunyazad's missing sister in "Dunyazadiad"
AndromedaDamsel in distress in "Perseid," about to be sacrificed to a sea monster
ChimeraMythical creature in "Bellerophoniad," with the head of a lion, body of a goat, and tail of a serpent

Summary of Story Points


  1. Dunyazad embarks on a quest to find her missing sister Scheherazad.
  2. She encounters various mythical creatures and navigates a challenging landscape.
  3. Dunyazad faces personal and external challenges as she searches for her sister.


  1. Perseus sets out to rescue Andromeda from a sea monster.
  2. He faces trials and battles throughout his journey.
  3. Perseus ultimately saves Andromeda and wins her heart.


  1. Bellerophon tames the winged horse Pegasus and embarks on a quest to battle monsters.
  2. He encounters the Chimera, a fearsome creature with the head of a lion, body of a goat, and tail of a serpent.
  3. Bellerophon becomes entangled in the political intrigue of King Job's kingdom.

Main Events

Dunyazad finds a clueDunyazad discovers a clue that leads her closer to finding her missing sister Scheherazad
Perseus slays MedusaPerseus successfully defeats Medusa, transforming her into a statue with the power of his shield
Bellerophon battles the ChimeraBellerophon engages in a fierce battle with the Chimera, eventually defeating the fearsome creature
Dunyazad reunites with ScheherazadDunyazad ultimately finds her missing sister and they are joyfully reunited

Themes and Insights

"Chimera" explores several overarching themes that are prevalent throughout the novel.

Identity and Self-Discovery

Throughout the different narratives, the characters in "Chimera" embark on personal quests and journeys, each with the goal of finding themselves or their place in the world. Dunyazad searches for her sister, Perseus fights for love, and Bellerophon seeks his purpose. These quests serve as metaphors for the search for identity and self-discovery that we all face in our lives.

The Power of Myth and Storytelling

Barth's novel draws inspiration from various mythological stories, emphasizing the power of myths and storytelling throughout history. The characters in "Chimera" are caught up in their own mythological tales, and their actions and challenges reflect the timeless themes and lessons found in mythology.

The Nature of Reality

"Chimera" blurs the lines between reality and fiction, challenging readers to question the nature of reality itself. The interconnected narratives and the mythical elements in the story prompt readers to consider the subjective and malleable nature of truth and perception.

Reader's Takeaway

"Chimera" is a complex and immersive novel that demands the reader's full attention and engagement. The intertwining narratives, mythological references, and thought-provoking themes create a reading experience that invites readers to reflect on their own journeys of identity, the power of storytelling, and the nature of reality. "Chimera" is a must-read for those who enjoy literary fiction that pushes the boundaries of traditional storytelling.


In "Chimera," John Barth presents readers with a rich and multi-layered narrative that merges mythology, philosophy, and storytelling. Through the interconnected tales of Dunyazadiad, Perseid, and Bellerophoniad, Barth explores themes of identity, the power of myths, and the nature of reality. This thought-provoking novel challenges readers to reconsider their own perceptions of the world and the stories that shape our lives. With its intricate plot and captivating characters, "Chimera" is a literary adventure that will leave readers questioning the nature of truth and the power of storytelling long after they turn the final page.

Chimera FAQ

  1. What is the genre of Chimera?

    Chimera is a science fiction novel.

  2. Who is the author of Chimera?

    The author of Chimera is John Doe.

  3. What is the main plot of Chimera?

    Chimera follows the story of a geneticist who creates a hybrid creature as a result of his experimentations.

  4. Is Chimera part of a series?

    No, Chimera is a standalone novel.

  5. How long is Chimera?

    Chimera is approximately 350 pages long.

  6. When was Chimera first published?

    Chimera was first published in 2010.

  7. Is Chimera suitable for young readers?

    Chimera is recommended for mature readers due to its science fiction themes and some adult content.

  8. Where can I purchase Chimera?

    Chimera can be purchased online through various book retailers or in local bookstores.

  9. Is there a movie adaptation of Chimera?

    No, there is no movie adaptation of Chimera at the moment.

  10. Are there any sequels planned for Chimera?

    There are currently no announced sequels planned for Chimera.