Giles Goat-Boy

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Novel by John Barth, published in 1966.

In the metaphoric world called the University, control is held by a computer, WESAC, which is able to run itself and to tyrannize people, for it has the ability to subject them to a radiating and disintegrating force, that is, to EAT them, an acronym for its power of “Electroencephalic Amplification and Transaction.” WESAC is so out of hand that one of its developers, Max Spielman, believes it can be controlled only through reprogramming by a Grand Tutor, a prophet, who will bring a “New Syllabus,” that is, a new philosophy. For this role and this purpose he selects George Giles, whom he had raised among goats as a goat, though he is actually a human found as an infant in the tapelift of WESAC. George enters the computer to destroy it, and learns to confound WESAC by answering its questions through paradoxes that paralyze the machine. When George emerges, authorities eager to put WESAC back into operation seize him and send him back to the animal site of his boyhood, for he is now the University's scapegoat.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

John Barth (b. 1930) American novelist and short-story writer