The Lyre of Orpheus

Robertson Davies, Author Viking Books $19.95 (480p) ISBN 978-0-670-82416-8
The third volume of the Cornish trilogy has less mystery and suspense than The Rebel Angels and What's Bred in the Bone , but there are still rewards for the reader. This is a deeper, more thoughtful and old-fashioned book, somewhat padded with leisurely asides, snippets of poetry and observations on the subject of artistic creativity. The plot revolves around a production of an unfinished opera by the 19th century composer E.T.A. Hoffmann, whose entreaty ``Let the lyre of Orpheus open the door of the underworld of feeling'' is borne out on many levels. The completion of Hoffmann's Arthur of Britain, or The Magnanimous Cuckold , is sponsored by the Cornish Foundation, presided over by the late benefactor's nephew, Arthur; the duplication of names is not accidental, for in the course of the narrative the modern-day Arthur is cuckolded by his wife, gypsy Maria Theotoky. Packed with interesting details of opera history and production, boasting some new, eccentric characters, and pulling together Robertson's various themes in a harmonic resolution, the novel should satisfy those who will settle for intelligent observations and playful allusions rather than dramatic momentum this time around. 50,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo; BOMC and QPBC alternates. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 480 pages - 978-0-14-011433-1
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7861-1100-8
Hardcover - 588 pages - 978-0-8161-4839-4
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