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About the book
  • Published: 15 July 2012
  • ISBN: 9781845951689
  • Imprint: Pimlico
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $35.00

Orpheus

The Song of Life




A powerful and poetic work of history on the figure of Orpheus: his life and myth, and his representation and imagining from the sixth century BC to the present day.

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.

  • Pub date: 15 July 2012
  • ISBN: 9781845951689
  • Imprint: Pimlico
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $35.00

About the Author

Ann Wroe

Ann Wroe is the Briefings and Obituaries editor of The Economist. She is the author of seven 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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Praise for Orpheus

“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”

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”

John Banville, Guardian

“Curious... there are moments of sublime writing”

Scotland on Sunday

“strange, original”

Sunday Times

“This one really is a song ... It evokes, but it also embodies, its subject”

Brian Morton, Tablet

“a dense, vigorous portrait”

Maggie Fergusson, Intelligent Life

“Manages, in prose both rhapsodic and precise, to convey the allure of the legendary bard from ancient Greece to modern times. This myth has flowered into truth”

Boyd Tonkin, Independent, Books of the Year

“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


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