The Cyclist Conspiracy: A Book Review

Cyclist Conspiracy Geopoetika Serbian Literature Svetislav BasaraSome things in life come easily while others need more effort. When extra effort is required, the rewards can be even greater. In art this is regularly the case, and it is definitely the situation with The Cyclist Conspiracy by Svetislav Basara, a prolific and awarded figure in contemporary Serbian literature.

When published in Serbia in 1988, this challenging and ambitious book attracted mixed reactions. Some claimed it was an academic indulgence that went one step too far, while others proclaimed it as a masterpiece from one of Serbia’s literary figureheads.

The style of the book (translated by Randall A Majorwas often related to the work of Argentina’s Jorge Luis Borges, to the great Umberto Eco, and even to the current big-hitter of the conspiracy romp, Dan Brown. But while this book shares a fashionable fixation with secret societies and conspiracy theories, here the symbolism is neither over-bloated nor dumbed-down.

The Cyclist Conspiracy

The Cyclist Conspiracy tells of a secret Brotherhood who meet in dreams (and sometimes on an island outside of time) and have occasion to intervene and influence history and events. The Evangelical Bicyclists of the Rose Cross (to give them their full name) have existed for centuries. They live among us still, gaining their esoteric knowledge from contemplation of the bicycle.

This is no ordinary band of the religious hardcore, though. These guys can play with the threads of time. For example, the Bicyclists’ conspiracy to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand was planned fourteen years after the assassination in Sarajevo.

Told through a series of historical documents, letters and maps that could be genuine or imagined, the book details these interventions and the historical moments where the Brotherhood has made its influence felt. Using various fictional documents to illustrate the manoeuvrings of the Evangelical Bicyclists secret society, Basara moves between the worlds of academia, mysticism and the historic.

He calls upon a cast of characters and events, too. From the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and an unsolved case for Sherlock Holmes to Sigmund Freud and a problem patient, Basara encourages the reader to question the familiar understandings of time and to imagine an alternative history, a new reality created by an ancient brotherhood that has been guiding destiny for centuries.

Brotherhood of Conspiracy

As the evidence is pieced together, it becomes apparent that the Brotherhood is part of a vast conspiracy so secret that many of its members (which, according to an appendix, includes some well-known names) are not even aware of their involvement. Through use of fictional archive materials and secret documents, this book is put together to show how the secret society has influenced history.

Svetislav Basara

Ultimately, we learn, they are preparing for the ultimate showdown when the forces of good must battle the forces of evil. That this final solution involves rebuilding the biblical Tower of Babel is of no great surprise after having already suspended disbelief for all else that Is presented here.

To add to the esoteric symbolism that peppers this book, the cult expresses its spiritual beliefs through riding a bike. A simple Belgrade bike ride, that seems to be little more than a fun sporting event, is actually a pilgrimage. That the race takes place at the crossroads between east and west is a nod to the Bicyclists believing that they are subjects of Byzantium, at the heart of the Eastern Roman Empire. As such, they reject the history of Europe after the 842AD death of Byzantine Emperor Theophilus, the last advocate of the Iconoclasm, when God was banished to the churches and icons.

The Bicyclists believe that, by resurrecting Byzantium, they will be able to reverse the spiritual vacuum that this created within a Western society that turned its back on God and has become trapped in a time running away with itself.

Svetislav Basara Delivers Stimulating Read

It must be said that The Cyclist Conspiracy is not an easy read. Without an actual story in the familiar sense, and unraveling the secret society through a series of documents, letters, poetry and theories, it can be a taxing, even difficult book to wade through.

At one point there was so much going on, so many footnotes and time shifting, that I had to go back and read pages over again. More often, just when I thought it might be coming clearer, Basara threw a spinner and I was smashed off at another tangent.

That being said, The Cyclist Conspiracy is a largely enjoyable, stimulating and thought provoking read. The Cyclist Conspiracy is more than the usual conspiracy thriller and it is well worth any effort that is required. Svetislav Basara definitely keeps you on your toes.


If you like it, please share it:

No comments yet.

Be first to leave your comment!




Your comment:

Add your comment