Orpheus: The Song of Life

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ABRAMS, May 24, 2012 - Social Science - 272 pages
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“[A] startlingly original history that traces the obscure origins and tangled relationships of the Orpheus myth from ancient times through today” (Library Journal).
 
For at least two and a half millennia, the figure of Orpheus has haunted humanity. Half-man, half-god, musician, magician, theologian, poet, and lover, his story never leaves us. He may be myth, but his lyre still sounds, entrancing everything that hears it: animals, trees, water, stones, and men.
 
In this extraordinary work, Ann Wroe goes in search of Orpheus, tracing the man and the power he represents through the myriad versions of a fantastical life: his birth in Thrace, his studies in Egypt, his voyage with the Argonauts to fetch the Golden Fleece, his love for Eurydice and the journey to Hades, and his terrible death. We see him tantalizing Cicero and Plato, and breathing new music into Gluck and Monteverdi; occupying the mind of Jung and the surreal dreams of Cocteau; scandalizing the fathers of the early Church, and filling Rilke with poems like a whirlwind. He emerges as not simply another mythical figure but the force of creation itself, singing the song of light out of darkness and life out of death.
 
“Did Orpheus exist? Wroe thinks he did, and still does, and dedicates this lyrical biography to doubters.” —The New Yorker
 
“This insightful and visionary study, treading a perfect line between imagination and scholarship, is as readable and necessary as a fine novel. Ted Hughes, another mythographer, would have loved it.” —The Independent
 
“A book to make readers laugh, sing and weep.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
 
“[Orpheus] will leave you dancing.” —New Statesman
 

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ORPHEUS: The Song of Life

User Review  - Kirkus

Economist briefings and obituaries editor Wroe (Being Shelley: The Poet's Search for Himself, 2007, etc.) delivers a transformative adventure of myth.The story of the semi-god Orpheus, the young man ... Read full review

Contents

Winter
Trees
The
Love
Death
Fame
Scattering
Bibliography
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

Ann Wroe writes for the Economist. After earning a doctorate in medieval history from Oxford, she worked at the BBC, covering French and Italian politics. She joined the Economist in 1976 and has held the posts of books and arts editor and American editor. She has written five other books and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Royal Society of Literature.

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