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Where Three Roads Meet (Myths) Paperback – 5 Jun 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; Main edition (5 Jun. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847670725
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847670724
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 278,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Salley Vickers' subtle, witty style and clear-eyed observation of human nature has been compared to Penelope Fitzgerald and Barbara Pym. She has worked as a university teacher of literature, specialising in Shakespeare, and in adult education, where she specialised in the literature of the ancient world. She is a trained analytical psychologist and lectures widely on the connections between literature, psychology and religion. She divides her time between London, Venice and the West Country.

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Review

'Ingenious...her vision of Hellenic Greece is earthy and alive.' -- Independent on Sunday

Simply and strongly done, laying bare many of our mortal anxieties -- The Times

The novel is a bright, hard, fine-cut gem -- The Sunday Times

This is a book to dwell on, to ponder, and delight in -- Scotsman

Vickers is comically irreverent about her own profession and deft at teasing out the slippery truths of Oedipus's tale. -- Observer

Vickers's retelling of Freud and Tiresias's exchanges is witty and revealing -- Sunday Times

Book Description

Revisit a crime committed long ago which has disturbing reverberations for us all . . .

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Brida TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 18 Nov. 2007
Format: Hardcover
WHERE THREE ROADS MEET is a retelling of the Oedipus myth, famous within the world of literaure but also psychology and psychanalysis, thanks to Sigmund Freud who developed the 'Oedipus Complex' to explain early infantile sexuality.
Vickers takes the figure of Freud in his last years, when he is suffering from cancer, as one of the characters within this retelling. Freud is visited by a mysterious man who is blind and comes to him to recount a story about Oedipus. This mysterious visitor claims that he thinks Freud has missed something in his own Oedipus theory, and so he tells the story in order to help the famed psychoanalyst 'see' another point. For Vickers' retelling, the important point about the story is that Oedipus pushed and pushed for the knowledge that would be his downfall, despite being warned that there really are some things that should remain unsaid:
'"Events must be endured if they are to disclose their meaning."
"Or unfold untold meanings? And no one, even you, Doctor, has ever quite accounted for humankind's resistance to letting well alone."' (p173).

What makes this novel truely memorable is that Vickers plays around with language and words - as Freud and his visitor discuss the Oedipus story as well as Freud himself, they muse on the origins of words and how that may relate to the story they are discussing. This results in the book staying with you long after you have finished reading its lines. As any good psychoanalyst should, Vickers is able to make you stop and think and relfect on what has just been said, slowly showing you alternative perspectives or issues to consider.
This is a fantastic read - highly recommneded.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Simon Savidge Reads on 22 Mar. 2010
Format: Hardcover
`Where Three Roads Meet' is one of the Canongate Myth series a series in which modern authors take classic myths from around the world and retell them in their own way. With this novel Salley Vickers gives us the retelling of `Oedipus' the Greek legend of a man who killed his father and then married and had children with his mother, though its not quite as simple as that but I wouldn't want to take all the fun out of the plot if you haven't yet heard the tale. This myth was then used by Sigmund Freud who came up with the now famous `Oedipus Complex'. What Salley Vickers does, and its no easy task, is manage to combine the myth with the last days in Freud's life.

I had no real prior knowledge of Freud's life and so to discover that he had cancer of the mouth and the last years of his life with all the operations and horrendous pain (for it was the 1930's and medicine was not so advanced). Vickers uses this time when he was on a lot of morphine for a strange visitor to appear to him one day, almost frightening the life out of him, to tell him a tale of a place where three roads meet and a story Freud knows well but not from someone who might just have been there. With a novel like this you do need to be able to suspend your belief and go along with the tale but then if you are reading a myth in the first place that shouldn't be a problem.

What adds to the book is how the two narrators discuss the tale and all the questions it brings up of sexuality, the role of women and many of Freud's own ideas and theories. I found it all quite fascinating. I also like the way that the characters looked at words and how they originated in small asides during the tale. I enjoyed this book and I think if you are interested in the myths and love language then you will too.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By M. J. Rigby on 6 Nov. 2007
Format: Hardcover
I heard Ms Vickers on Start the Week and rushed out and bought this. I read a review which said it lacked emotion. Don't believe it. My guess is the reviewer didn't have time to read and absorb this book properly which, as all Vickers fans know, is essential where she is concerned. In an interview she claimed to be 'lazy'. My guess is this is extreme modesty. She's a deep thinker and a tough one, and as with her writing understates her own worth. This book crackles with emotional intelligence and her take on the Oedipus myth is highly original. Her main thesis is that human beings don't know what they think they know but do know what they think they don't know - and that this is an element in the myth which Freud recognised, but passed over in his eagerness to pursue his new theory of infantile sexuality. Having Tiresias, the blind seer, come to tell Freud what really happened as he is dying is a brilliant conception and as always with Vickers it is done with a straight forwardness which belies its bold originality. I especially liked her idea that Jocasta (whom she does wonderfully well) knew she was sleeping with her own son - and that she sought to do away with him the first place out of a fear of losing him later. This is a profoundly shocking idea but one that has a clear ring of truth. And the motif of the three roads is also brilliantly handled. I suspect Freud would have enjoyed Vickers take on his own life and work. A real 'novel' - ie truly original.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER on 15 Nov. 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is another volume in that excellent undertaking by Canongate to have ancient myths retold in a contemporary re-imagining. (See my Amazon reviews of Margaret Atwood's Penelopiad and Jeanette Winterson's Weight.) Here we have Tiresias, the blind seer of Greek Antiquity, paying several visits to Sigmund Freud in London in 1938 when Freud was in the last stages of his distressing cancer.

Tiresias plays a part in the myth of Oedipus, and in their conversation the meaning of the Oedipus myth, to which Freud had given one particular interpretation, is re-examined.

However, it takes some time for Tiresias to work round to the story of Oedipus. The first half of the book is more concerned with the story of Tiresias himself; how he was apprenticed to the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi, how occasionally he acted not so much as a translator for the obscure sounds made by the Pythia when the god spoke through her, but found himself a direct vehicle for those revelations; how he was stricken blind by Athene and then left Delphi to become a peripatetic seer. The dialogue in this part of the book is entertaining, though not particularly challenging. Freud is shown as an extreme rationalist, interpreting every myth about the gods as displacements of infantile desire or as the need to rationalize natural injustice, and as rejecting the objective significance of visions. Tiresias is here, I think, a somewhat Jungian figure, for Jung would certainly differ from Freud in taking the truths of myths to be more profound than that; but I do think that the historical Freud had a little more respect for myths than is implied in this dialogue.

The book becomes deeper, I think, from around page 96.
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