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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


The Cyclist Conspiracy

Svetislav Basara

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To purchase The Cyclist Conspiracy

Title: The Cyclist Conspiracy
Author: Svetislav Basara
Genre: Novel
Written: 1988 (Eng. 2009)
Length: 285 pages
Original in: Serbian
Availability: The Cyclist Conspiracy - US
The Cyclist Conspiracy - UK
The Cyclist Conspiracy - Canada
The Cyclist Conspiracy - India
Die Verschwörung der Fahrradfahrer - Deutschland
Quel che si dice dei Ciclisti Rosacroce - Italia
  • Serbian title: Фама о бициклистима
  • Randall A. Major

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Our Assessment:

B : amusing variations

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Publishers Weekly . 23/1/2012 .
World Lit. Today . 9-10/2012 Malcolm Forbes

  From the Reviews:
  • "Major’s translation captures the wit and wisdom of one of Serbia’s most acclaimed authors. (...) At once a rich philosophical tome and vision-altering spoof of the same, this “meta-goulash” will interest readers of Jorge Luis Borges’s Labyrinths and Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman." - Publishers Weekly

  • "(A) dizzying, vertiginous ride in which the real is constantly at loggerheads with the unreal. The reader sifts through what purports to be a collection of apocryphal documents by famous scholars and dubious, not to mention spurious, sources. The result is a perplexing mind game that is, by turns, fantastically intriguing and maddeningly exasperating." - Malcolm Forbes, World Literature Today

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The Cyclist Conspiracy documents a shadowy cult of sorts -- the Evangelical Bicyclists -- who have played significant roles in parts of history (and also just rolled along with much of it). From the symbolism of the simple image of the two-wheeled velocipede (in its many variations) to the bicycle as mode of transportation, Basara shows a vast conspiracy of bicyclism that has existed for many, many centuries.
       As one follower explains:

it was not important whether I knew how to ride the bicycle or not; he explained that the symbolism is important. The bicycle, namely, is a vertical device; it contradicts gravity. In itself, it carries no special meaning and it represents a sort of mandala, the purpose of which is to stimulate contemplation.
       Basara offers a variety of stories about and insights into the Evangelical Bicyclists, from a Sherlock Holmes case to Sigmund Freud dealing with a bicyclist-patient to a set of poems.
       They, and the nature of bicyclism, remain elusive:
Due to the completely public nature of their actions, the Evangelical Bicyclists are protected by the greatest possible secrecy.
       And there's also the fact that:
     It is astounding, the lack of care which the Evangelical Bicyclists show for their documents, which are anyway so small in number. Their most important work is "Theology and Bicyclism" and, to my knowledge, no one has ever seen the integral; version of it.
       Such a slippery cult makes for a slippery account, but then that's much of the fun of The Cyclist Conspiracy. From involvement in the World War I-starting assassination of Franz Ferdinand to Stalinist connections as well as activity much farther afield (as in Indian Dharamsala), and including everything from letters from and about members to some of their more theoretical writing (on 'The Madness of Architecture', for example) Basara spins a nice shadowy, loony, centuries-spanning conspiracy out -- colored also by the time and place where it was written and first published, Yugoslavia in 1988, not long before that particular not so grand domestic and nearby socialist/communist conspiracy fell apart at the seams.
       An appendix that offers a 'Secret List' of the cult-members suggests the overall flavor: heavy on the Slavic personalities, it also includes Woody Allen and John Cleese -- as well as Emil Cioran, Gavrilo Princip (of course), Bohumil Hrabal, Freddy Mercury, Eddy Merckx, and the jr. president Bush. (A boo-hiss, however, on inattentive transliteration copy-editing that spoils a bit of the fun by misspelling both physicist Stephen Hawking and Queen-man Freddie Mercury's names .....)
       Good playful fun, if a sometimes bumpy ride.

- M.A.Orthofer, 25 January 2012

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The Cyclist Conspiracy: Reviews: Other books by Svetislav Basara under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Yugoslavian (Serbian) author Svetislav Basara (Светислав Басара) was born in 1953.

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© 2012-2019 the complete review

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