The Lyre of Orpheus: A novel

by Robertson Davies | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0771599196 Global Overview for this book
Registered by winggypsysmomwing of Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on 12/11/2005
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by winggypsysmomwing from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Sunday, December 11, 2005
I believe this is the third book in the Cornish trilogy. I'm going to try to read all of them and then release for the 2006 Canada Day release blitz.

Journal Entry 2 by winggypsysmomwing from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Friday, December 26, 2008
This is the third book in the Cornish trilogy from the pen of Robertson Davies (the others being Rebel Angels and What's Bred in the Bone). This book is told from the perspective of Simon Darcourt who was an executor of the will of Francis Cornish and who has been commissioned to write the biography of that man. Interestingly, the biography was detailed in What's Bred in the Bone but we get more information about how Darcourt discovered some of the information about Cornish.

Darcourt is part of the board of The Cornish Foundation, a charitable institution set up with the late Cornish's fortune, and in that capacity he becomes involved in a scheme to put on an opera about the life of King Arthur. The Cornish Foundation has agreed to back a young music student who wants to finish the opera begun by E. T. A. Hoffmann who died before it could be completed. Hulda Schnakenburg is dirty, foul-mouthed and foul-tempered but her professors think she has genius and think she could complete this monumental task with the advice of the right person. Enter Dr. Gunilla Dahl-Soot, a Scandinavian professor of music with eccentric taste in clothes and an ability to drink that astonishes. She takes the Schnak in hand, cleans her up, makes love to her and assures that the enterprise will be finished. Darcourt is pressed into writing the libretto for the opera. Arthur and Maria Cornish write the cheques. Geraint Powell, a handsome Shakespearean actor who wants to become a director, undertakes to do all the business to put the opera on the stage in Stratford. It soon becomes apparent that the myth of King Arthur is going to be played out in Ontario with Arthur Cornish as King Arthur, Maria as Guinevere and Powell as Lancelot. And the spirit of E. T. A. Hoffmann (ETAH) hovers over all of them from his spot in Limbo where he languishes because he died before he finished his opera. He is most interested in the outcome because if it is finished he may get to leave Limbo.

Davies shows his love for theatre in this book. After all, he was an actor with the Old Vic Company in London, England before he became a publisher and writer. Davies also wrote two libretti amongst all his other fiction. For this reason I think the sentiments espoused by Simon Darcourt are autobiographical. I found Darcourt charming and I suspect I would have adored Robertson Davies in person. Unfortunately Davies died in 1995 with another trilogy only two-thirds complete. Does this mean he is sitting in limbo waiting for someone to finish it so he can be freed? If so, and if he can read this, I hope he realizes his influence on Canadian life and literature is still being felt. The following portion of the Wikipedia page on Davies shows that:

Davies is one of the authors mentioned in the Moxy Früvous song "My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors". The line "Who needs a shave? He's Robertson Davies" makes reference to his long white beard.
In The Sacred Art of Stealing, Christopher Brookmyre (an admirer of Davies) has a character refer to a painting of "The Marriage at Cana", saying that some experts consider it to be a fake. This is a reference to a decidedly fake (although excellent) picture painted by Francis Cornish, the protagonist in What's Bred in the Bone. Many of the characters in Brookmyre's novels are named after characters in Davies's books.
John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany contains several references to Davies' novels, including strong echoes of Fifth Business; for example, the narrators of both novels work as teachers in Toronto in private schools (Bishop Strachan School in Meany and a fictionalisation of Upper Canada College in Davies's novels).
Indie-rock band Tokyo Police Club references the gravel pit scene in Fifth Business.

I'm going to reserve this book for the 2009 Canada Day release challenge.

Released 11 yrs ago (6/25/2009 UTC) at -- Bus Stop (see notes for details) -- in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada



I left this book at the bus stop in front of the St. Mary's Road Autopac Claim Centre. A few hours later it was gone. This release is for the 2009 Canada Day release challenge.

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