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Orpheus The Song of Life

by Ann Wroe

Orpheus The Song of Life Synopsis

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, from the forests where he walked and the mountains where he worshipped to the artefacts, texts and philosophies built up round him. She traces 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 journey to Hades, and his terrible death. We see him tantalising Cicero and Plato, and breathing new music into Gluck and Monteverdi; occupying the mind of Jung and the surreal dreams of Cocteau; scandalising 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.

Orpheus The Song of Life Press Reviews

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. * Independent * Ann Wroe has an acute eye for pastoral detail...and takes a novelist's care in exploring character and evoking atmosphere... [Orpheus] will leave you dancing. * New Statesman * This is a most remarkable book... most rewarding... [a book] that will surely enhance Ann Wroe's already considerable reputation. * The Irish Times * Orpheus: The Song of Life is a book of wonders, learned, playful and passionate...For all her studies, her wide reading, her historical dilligence, Wroe's method is instinctive, as she searches for inspirations and connections across the millennia. * Guardian * Marvellous subjects can still, sometimes deliver leaden books. This one, though, really is a song ... It evokes, but it also embodies, its subject. * The Times *

Book Information

ISBN: 9780224091367
Publication date: 14th July 2011
Author: Ann Wroe
Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd an imprint of Vintage Publishing
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 272 pages
Categories: Ancient history: to c 500 CE, Literary studies: classical, early & medieval,

About Ann Wroe

Ann Wroe is the Briefings and Obituaries editor of The Economist. She is the author of six previous works of non-fiction, including Pilate: The Biography of an Invented Man, which was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Award and the W.H. Smith Award. She lives in north London.

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