Orpheus by Ann Wroe

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The captivating "history" of the figure of Orpheus, his enduring legacy as the force and muse of creation itself. 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.


About Ann Wroe

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ANN WROE is the Briefings and Obituaries Editor of 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.
Published May 24, 2012 by Overlook. 271 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Economist briefings and obituaries editor Wroe (Being Shelley: The Poet's Search for Himself, 2007, etc.) delivers a transformative adventure of myth.

May 18 2012 | Read Full Review of Orpheus

Publishers Weekly

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Western icon and poets’ poet, Orpheus is so mutable that, like many figures of ancient religious traditions, it’s difficult to tell where reality leaves off and myth begins. Wroe (Being Shelley: The P

Apr 02 2012 | Read Full Review of Orpheus

The Telegraph

The danger of taking a subject so evanescent as Orpheus is that the .

Jul 18 2011 | Read Full Review of Orpheus

The Bookbag

She luxuriates in descriptions, for instance in the ‘land of spices’ there are the ‘resins and aromatics that [Orpheus] used to reinforce his prayers: red balsam, pitch pine, vanilla-scented storax, cassia and golden crocus, frankincense in white cubes.’ She writes vividly of Orpheus’ journey ac...

Aug 22 2012 | Read Full Review of Orpheus

The New Yorker

Wroe weaves together accounts that span twenty-five centuries, from Aeschylus to Czeslaw Milosz.

Sep 10 2012 | Read Full Review of Orpheus

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