CanLit Challenge Book #15: The Lyre of Orpheus by Robertson Davies
Filed under: CanLit Challenge — Ibis at 1:49 am on Sunday, November 19, 2006

Book 15, The Lyre of Orpheus (1988) – Robertson Davies
From the back cover:
“‘The lyre of Orpheus opens the door of the underworld,’ wrote E. T. A. Hoffmann, and Hoffmann’s spirit, languishing in limbo, watches over, and comments on, the efforts of the Cornish Foundation as its Trustees decide to produce an opera.

The final volume in Robertson Davies’ The Cornish Trilogy which began with The Rebel Angels and continued with What’s Bred in the Bone, which was shortlisted for the 1986 Booker Prize.”

Other useful links:
the Wikipedia article on Robertson Davies
the Wikipedia article on The Lyre of Orpheus
the Wikipedia article on E.T.A. Hoffmann
The Stratford Festival
the Wikipedia article on the Trumps of the Tarot deck
the Wikipedia article on the Arthurian legends

My thoughts:
My favourite of the trilogy was What’s Bred in the Bone, but I liked this one too. Back among the erudite at U of T with a side trip to Stratford. I don’t know a lot about opera or the theatre (watching is about the extent of my knowledge), but that wasn’t a hindrance. Knowing something about the Arthurian myth was much more important (though, as usual with “ponderous” and “toplofty” Mr Davies, we’re given more than enough background to suffice). I also enjoyed the inclusion of the Tarot reading and the way that all the loose ends from the first two books were cleared up.

So was Maria the “victim” of a glamour or did she know who was fathering her son? It was a lot like the way Arthur (the King, not the character) was conceived. Poor Arthur (the character, not the King). I just finished reading Froissart’s Chronicles and he reports that there was a rumour that Richard II was not in fact the son of Arthur, the Black Prince, but that his wife found someone to take that role and presented both Edward and Richard as Arthur’s own. I’m surprised no one brought that up. LOL.

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