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The Lyre of Orpheus (Cornish Trilogy) [Paperback]

Robertson Davies
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

26 Oct 1989 Cornish Trilogy
Davies triumphantly concludes the trilogy begun with The Rebel Angels. The Cornish Foundation is thriving under the tutelage of Arthur Cornish, art expert, collector, connoisseur, and notable eccentric.


Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (26 Oct 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140114335
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140114331
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.9 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 280,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Robertson Davies (1913-1995) had three successive careers during the time he became an internationally acclaimed author: actor, publisher, and, finally, professor at the University of Toronto. The author of twelve novels and several volumes of essays and plays, he was the first Canadian to be inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

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ARTHUR , WHO HAD A MASTERLY WAY with meetings, was gathering this one together for a conclusion. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant tale of opera and academics 14 Jan 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The final part of the Cornish Trilogy. This is the story of an opera. Boring? Never. An unfinished opera by E.T.A. Hoffman is to be completed by an unlovable music student as a part of a bequest from a charitable foundation. From the beginning Davies' coruscating prose enchants and, as the twin plots begin to unfold, the richly eccentric characters begin to draw the reader in. Davies has a way of tying the most obscure facts together and making his huge knowledge accessible through humour and his immensely gifted, exhilarating, writing. If you have never read Robertson Davies you should start now. Start with The Lyre of Orpheus if you like, it is a superb book in it's own right, but it is a part of the outstanding "Cornish Trilogy" so you may prefer to begin with The Rebel Angels, the first in the trilogy. Personally, though, I would buy the trilogy right now.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Grumpy
Format:Paperback
This is brilliant, warm, funny, psychologically perceptive and humane. The characters are all the more sympathetic for their faults and as usual with Davies he did his research and you are treated to the kind of detail about gypsies, opera singers, college professors and secret agents which makes you believe the author must have personal experience. As this is the third in a trilogy, probably best to start with The Rebel Angels but all three books have their own character and would stand alone. Still, get them all because once you've read one you'll want the others!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Lyre gone off tune a lttle with passage of years 12 Sep 2011
By Tuskie
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Last of the Cornish Trilogy & to be honest its not the best, only worth reading for sense of completion if you've read the earlier two in series.
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By Ruth.S
Format:Paperback
If you like thrilling and complicated plots, wonderfully insightful drawing of characters, and a wise,quirky philosophy, have a go at these. Alas! Robertson Davies is dead now , but he wrote three trilogies. Lyre of Orpheus is the last book of the Cornish TRilogy. Just read the blurb about him and that might be sufficient to grab you.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun, But The Weakest of the Trilogy 7 Sep 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Lyre of Orpheus continues the story of the characters introduced in The Rebel Angels -- Maria and Arthur Cornish, Simon Darcourt, Clement Hollier, etc. I read the Cornish Trilogy straight through, and while I very much enjoyed it, I thought Davies ran out of gas somewhere in the Lyre of Orpheus. What I liked so much about the first two books was Davies' delving into the personalities of the characters; What's Bred in the Bone deals more with Francis Cornish, but goes very deeply into the forces that shaped his life. Davies has great insight into human nature. In The Lyre of Orpheus, the characters' motivations are not well explored. For example, we learn that a character's wife has an affair that results in pregnancy, and that the man, with apparently little ado, not only forgives his wife and treats her with undiminished devotion, but also continues to regard her lover as the dear friend he had been. Well, that's great, but uncommon, and Davies makes no attempt to explain this astounding level of generosity other than to analogize it to the Arthurian legend (but that was a legend). Similarly, we learn that Simon Darcourt has taken something of a new path in his life, but for motivation we are told little more than that, after taking a walk in woods, he has decided to view his life differently. Instead of helping us to relate to these characters, Davies spends a great deal of time educating us about how to produce an opera, evidently a great love of his. Opera fans will find this great fun, but it doesn't make for a great story. Finally, the analogizing to Arthurian legend of the characters' lives that permeates the entire work as a leitmotif becomes increasingly heavyhanded as time wears on, almost to the point of self-parody. In short, it's an entertaining read, but not up to the level of the first two parts of the trilogy.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, witty story of artistic academics 1 Oct 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The final part of the Cornish Trilogy. This is the story of an opera. Boring? Never. An unfinished opera by E.T.A. Hoffman is to be completed by an unlovable music student as a part of a bequest from a charitable foundation. From the beginning Davies' coruscating prose enchants and, as the twin plots begin to unfold, the richly eccentric characters begin to draw the reader in. Davies has a way of tying the most obscure facts together and making his huge knowledge accessible through humour and his immensely gifted, exhilarating, writing. If you have never read Robertson Davies you should start now. Start with The Lyre of Orpheus if you like, it is a superb book in it's own right, but it is a part of the outstanding "Cornish Trilogy" so you may prefer to begin with The Rebel Angels, the first in the trilogy. Personally, though, I would buy the trilogy right now.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Mixture of Frailties Remixed 2 Nov 1999
By Mark Salter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Treats the same subject as the much earlier A Mixture of Frailties, from a different approach (and in a more modern manner). Philosophical, farcical, thoughtful, touching, and even -- gasp - educational. The plot drives ahead almost unnoticed, as usual, until you realize, quite by accident, that you really need to find out how this is all going to come out.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Characters are the Treasure Here 28 Oct 2003
By "gam2saints" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Lyre of Orpheus is the concluding novel in Robertson Davies's Cornish Trilogy, and it stands as a strong work within the context of that collection. Like The Rebel Angels (the first book), The Lyre of Orpheus is very much dependent upon the two other books and does not do well as a stand-alone.
In many ways, The Lyre of Orpheus was surprising to this reader. Its plot revolves around an Arthurian quest (loosely) to put on a production of a long-dead composer whose opera had fallen short of completion at the time of his death in the early 19th century. The task was to write an opera that was sufficiently of his spirit, so as to be called his, and then produce it according to the conventions of the theatre of the day. Honestly, I would be hard-pressed to think of a plot that would be less likely to rouse my interest, personally (my apologies to all those truly devoted to early 19th century opera!). Having invested myself in the first two books of the trilogy, however, I resigned myself to the task of reading this last installment (lest I have to chastise myself in future years for having gone so far and then turned back). The `round table' of this tale was, for me, the most tedious of experiences (except when a drunken, rude Scandinavian music scholar provided me with some humour to console my page-turning drudgery). Indeed, the book often wanders with Davies's own apparent unclear quest to find his way from one cover to the next. BUT - all of that said, I found myself falling in love with this book, the more I read of it.
Robertson Davies has (though he is gone, he is not really) a delightful gift of making us find joy in the chatter and company of our own lives. This book, perhaps more than many of his creation, takes us through a luxurious indulgence in the meanderings of days strung together whose meaning can only be guessed, or retroactively assigned. The `round table,' though often a great annoyance to this reader, began to feel as beloved (and despised) as the Thanksgiving table filled with family and friends. The treasure of this book is to be found in the characters, not in the plot (which is a mere backdrop - and excuse for the story - just as the libretto is an excuse for the opera's music (according to Davies)).
I give high marks to this book. I expected not to like it; but I did. Very much so, in fact. I commend it to your reading.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Regarding opera 8 Nov 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I have some of the same criticisms that others have about this book. Somehow, Maria doesn't seem fleshed out as well as I had hoped from Davies. He seems to have a little trouble with characterizations of women. However, no one is perfect and that is a minor problem for a very talented author. I loved this book as much as the others (actually, Rebel Angels was my least favorite of this trilogy). Each book was about a different type of art. Rebel Angels was about a (sort of) the writing of a novel, What's Bred in the Bone about painting, and the Lyre is about opera. It was wonderful seeing Darcourt come into his own, the resolution of Frank Cornishes' painting, and the opera develop. I enjoyed the rather transparent parallels in the plot of the opera and the life of the prinipals. All of Davies books have this (sometimes more in the background than in others) one theme that is most present in this book, namely, find your own myth and live it to its fullest. Written well aand truly.
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