Regular price: $39.95

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free.
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price.
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love.
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel.
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month.
OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

Considered by critics to be Barth's most distinguished novel, The Sot-Weed Factor has acquired the status of a modern classic. Set in the late 1600s, it recounts the chaotic odyssey of the hapless, ungainly Ebeneezer Cooke. Cooke is sent to the New World to oversee his father's tobacco business and to record the struggles of the Maryland colony in an epic poem. On his mission, he is captured by pirates and Indians; loses his father's estate to roguish impostors; falls in love with a former prostitute; is nearly robbed of his virginity, which he is (almost) determined to protect; and meets a gallery of treacherous characters who continually switch identities.

The Sot-Weed Factor is a hilarious, bawdy tribute to all the most insidious human vices with lasting relevance for listeners of all times.

©1960 John Barth (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    76
  • 4 Stars
    47
  • 3 Stars
    27
  • 2 Stars
    12
  • 1 Stars
    17

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    99
  • 4 Stars
    28
  • 3 Stars
    12
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    6

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    64
  • 4 Stars
    37
  • 3 Stars
    20
  • 2 Stars
    16
  • 1 Stars
    15
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Janice
  • Toronto, ON, Canada
  • 01-10-12

An adventure full of bawdy humour, wit and wonder

Though a lengthy work, John Barth's Sot-Weed Factor flows apace as the protagonist bumbles his way through myriad adventures in the late 1600's of England and America. Barth has a great turn of phrase, his wit magnified through his idealistic, hapless and often rather daft Ebinezer Cooke.

I am reminded of Voltaire's Candide, and would extend an extra recommendation to anyone who has appreciation for that work. The wit is two-fold in that much is humourous on the face of situation and yet the underbelly of issues related to colonialism, class structure, the struggle between Catholicism and Protestantism, as well as suffrage, to name a few, are raised by an ever changing cast of characters surrounding our main man Ebenezer. To boot there are a great many passages that toy and explore the notion of identity, and we witness a few switcheroos that play well in the adventure.

I was not surprised, though very pleased, to see that Kevin Pariseau is the narrator of choice for all of Barth's full length books, as he brings true character with his narration. Pariseau is a perfect match for this tale, and his phrasing, tone and pacing are pitch-perfect. He has done great justice to the spirit of the work and really has made it an audio book that engages and paints vivid scenarios in the mind.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

One of my Favorite Titles

I was first exposed to The Sot Weed Factor in my first year English Lit class at university in 1972. I read this book at least once a year for many years until I lost my copy and found it difficult to find another. I have be hoping that it would be made as an audiobook, and now my hopes I come true.

Although the story can be a bit convoluted at times, it is always entertaining, usually funny and sometimes a bit ribald. Barth has managed to capture the life of the early 1600's in both England and the Americas, making it real to the reader on every level.

I just now downloaded it, and have not yet listened to it, but the story itself is incredible and I am sure the narrator will do it justice.

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Barry
  • Petaluma, CA, United States
  • 03-11-13

Is this truly postmodern?

I do not question John Barth's credentials in the world of postmodernism. I count myself as a fan of both, but I can find a lot more postmodernism in Tristram Shandy than in this work. For that matter, there's a good deal of Tristram Shandy in this work, but Barth does a better job of tying it all up in a cohesive narrative. In fact, it felt to me like this book was more of a homage to Sterne or Fielding than an attempt to carve out bold new territory in the realm of the novel. It is a hilarious story full of all the stock devices culled from a hundred different sources and smushed together. It is just as bawdy and earthy as Sterne or Fielding (in fact, he may be trying to outdo them), but never as explicit as modern authors are.

For the first 60% of this book, I confess I could not fathom why this book merited the reputation it had. It was certainly inventive enough but the pacing and the plot devices were always just at the verge of tedium. However, the last 40% picked up and all the work laid up to that point began to bear fruit. In fact, it started to be fun to see what horrible predicament the author would put his protagonist in next, just to see how he could possibly extricate him.

In the end, it was a rollicking good story, though I am less sure it qualifies as great literature. And I am still unsure how it qualifies as postmodern.

Kevin Pariseau turns in an excellent performance keeping the myriad characters separate. His choice for the protagonist, though wholly appropriate, is annoying. But for that I have to blame Eben Cooke more than Mr. Pariseau.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

If you're a lit major, you'll love it

I didn't really read the description of this book before I downloaded it. I missed the word parody. Or farce. Or spoof. I saw it was historical fiction and it was a long book. And it was all of those - parody, history and long. If it had not been for the narrator, Pariseau, I would have given up and added it to the short pile of 2 other books in my lifetime that I simply could not complete reading. But Pariseau made it worth the time - what a phenomenal range that man has!! The story itself is convoluted and has so many short stories within its bounds that I wonder if the book's whole purpose wasn't to supply a connect the dots effect to all those stories. Colorful characters, all. The main character, an English poet, is a fool in the realm of life, but he does get under your skin. I found myself rhyming a lot during the time I was listening to this book! But would I recommend the book -
nay, I say.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Barbara
  • pensacola, florida
  • 12-14-11

Unexpected Gem!

If you could sum up The Sot-Weed Factor in three words, what would they be?

Once i got past the old english language i was hooked. the story has countless twists and turns that keep you guessing.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

It’s so good I’m angry

Angry because I don’t think I’m going to enjoy another audiobook quite this much ever again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Perhaps less Postmodern than merely Contrived

"Life is a shameless playwright," the protagonist Ebenezer Cooke is fond of saying in reference to the bewildering array of miraculous coincidences and mistaken identities that hold the plot of The Sot-Weed Factor together. But the winking irony in this – that it is in fact not life at all, but John Barth who is the "shameless" creator here – is perhaps not enough to excuse the novel's over-reliance on such contrivances. And though, in a shorter work, the fact that these devices are intended to parody the 18th century picaresque novel may make them more amusing than infuriating, in a work of such staggering proportions they simply become tedious. The joke, in short, gets old.

Fans of Sterne or Fielding may find Barth's pastiche of such writers compelling, but I came to this book as a fan of postmodern fiction, and came away disappointed. The narrative is almost relentlessly linear and chronological, always follows Ebenezer, and relies on characters telling stories to fill in past events. No postmodern puzzle-box fragmentation here. And yet it doesn't possess the greatest strengths of a traditional narrative, either: it fails to create any really sympathetic characters, or to evoke an emotional response in the reader – at least not this reader. (It is fun, for a while, to watch the buffoonish protagonist get himself into trouble, but even this pleasure wanes in a 40+ hour work.)

Nevertheless, this version of the book does possess one great merit, without which I probably wouldn't have finished it (though I love long novels). That is, the voice of Kevin Pariseau, who does a fantastic job giving unique voices and appropriate accents to an expansive cast of characters.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Entertaining high-brow adventure yarn

Very entertaining high-brow adventure yarn. Imagine a mash-up of Barry Lyndon, Black Adder, The 40 Year-old Virgin, and Pirates of the Caribbean, delivered in erudite 17th Century English by audiobook narrator Kevin Pariseau.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

What a ride!

I read this book a million years ago and have been hankering to revisit it ever since. Kevin Pariseau brings John Barth's brilliant, dense prose to life in unexpected ways. I can only imagine how exhausting that must have been, but listeners definitely get their money's worth from this title--41 hours and 26 delicious minute's worth!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

long, winding, but essential

an amazing performance of a long, winding story. buckle up. the narrator, doing dozens of voices, is absolutely amazing.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • R
  • 07-07-14

Huge, funny and amazing

Would you listen to The Sot-Weed Factor again? Why?

Very long book but will listen again almost immediately. The narration is wonderful and the humour is rude and side splitting. Like no other book really

What other book might you compare The Sot-Weed Factor to, and why?

Difficult to compare it to another book. It is written in style of 17th century writers. Reminds you of parts of Treasure Island, Moll Flanders, Oliver Twist. Old fashioned bawdiness, but full of wit and wisdom. Deep philosophy is made really entertaining

Which character – as performed by Kevin Pariseau – was your favourite?

The narration was the best I have ever listened to, even better than Dick Hill. The various attitudes of Ebenezer Cooke to all the adventures that befall him are given life and vision by Mr Pariseau. Ebenezer Cooke is a hero for our times. Lost and aimless and gormless, he comes through and grows before our eyes.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

A couple of hours at a go is about right since it contains so much detail and intrigue that you begin to get confused. But that is part of the point - human life is confusing and things change. Once you accept the pace then the humour revives you when it appears out of the blue and knocks you for six

Any additional comments?

Its huge length, scope and education may count against it for some folk, but it is packed with amazing stories, characters, deep thoughts and laughter. John Barth must be some man. Kevin Pariseau deserves commendation

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Nicholas P.
  • 09-12-18

A monumental tale. A supreme narration

A monumental tale and supreme acheivement of narration and production. A story full of humour a sense of history and doubtless representative of a time past. One of, if not the first, great American novels.