Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Lyre of Orpheus Paperback – 26 Oct 1989


See all 20 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Paperback, 26 Oct 1989
£102.49 £0.01

Trade In Promotion

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Open market ed edition (26 Oct 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140114262
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140114263
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 3 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,088,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse and search another edition of this book.
First Sentence
ARTHUR , WHO HAD A MASTERLY WAY with meetings, was gathering this one together for a conclusion. Read the first page
Explore More
Concordance
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
5 star
3
4 star
0
3 star
1
2 star
0
1 star
0
See all 4 customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Jan 1999
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.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Grumpy on 16 Nov 2010
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!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
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.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
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.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 16 reviews
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
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
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
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
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.
A fine tune on the "Lyre". 30 Jan 2010
By Sean Curley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Robertson Davies' last major novel trilogy, "Cornish", concludes with this book, which is in many respects my favourite of the set. "The Rebel Angels" introduced us to the characters who inhabit the world of the College of St John and the Holy Ghost (a thinly-disguised version of Trinity College at Toronto); "What's Bred in the Bone" went back in time to give us the life story of Frank Cornish, the man whose death drove the plot of the first novel. Now in "Lyre" the strands of both novels come together, and Davies, having previously indulged his love of Rabelais, theology, and Medieval art, now takes us into the machinations of opera. Plot details discussed herein.

Much as "The World of Wonders" concluded "The Deptford Trilogy" by bringing back the first book's narrator, Dunstan Ramsay, so this third book in the trilogy sees the return of Simon Darcourt as focal character, though only partially, as Davies here indulges more in omniscient third-person narration than in the past. This includes segments narrated by the deceased poet and musician E. T. A Hoffmann from Limbo, the place for deceased artists who never achieved their potential (Hoffmann's parts introduce a surreal element akin to the commentating angels from "What's Bred in the Bone"). But rescue may be at hand for Hoffmann, as the messy graduate student Hulda Schnakenburg proposes to finish his last opera, "Arthur of Britain", using notes left behind. The attempt to stage this opera drives the plot and, as in other Davies novels, the mythic meta-echoes of Arthurian story reflect and influence the lives of the characters.

Without having read Davies, many might assume that his novels would stuffy, 19th century affairs, but this work, especially, defies that idea. Davies depicts some fairly frank sexuality, largely of a homosexual nature here, with the arrival of the splendidly-named Dr. Gunnila Dahl-Soot, a Nordic music instructor called in to assist. The modern day Arthur/Guinevere/Lancelot triangle is rather odd, though; you would think Arthur and Maria would be a bit more put off by Geraint and his motivation. But, whatever, it's all archetypal. Davies was always fascinated with opera, and yearned to write one himself, something eventually realized, though he did not live to see it performed. Here he gives us an intriguing depiction of the art as it exists today and existed in the early 19th century in Britain and Germany, before Wagner.

Recommended.
Were these reviews helpful? Let us know

Look for similar items by category


Feedback