The Lyre of Orpheus (Magill's Literary Annual 1990)
The Lyre of Orpheus is the final installment of what might become known as Robertson Davies’ Cornish Trilogy, a masterly series of interlocking narrations examining the correspondences between life and art. The central figure in the trilogy, central as exemplar of Davies’ concerns (Darcourt is his key commentator), is Francis Cornish—a mysterious figure whose life as an artist and government agent is detailed in What’s Bred in the Bone (1985), though much of it is summarized here and newly understood. Simon Darcourt’s task is to uncover the secrets of that life and to shape them into a book. He has the support and encouragement of the Cornish Foundation, on whose board he sits. The foundation, under the direction of Arthur Cornish, was established by Francis Cornish’s will to further humane studies and artistic enterprises.
In The Lyre of Orpheus, that charge has led the foundation to supporting the researches and creative efforts of a perverse graduate student, Hulda Schnakenburg, who has been given the opportunity to complete an unfinished opera sketched by the Romantic composer, critic, and author E. T. A. Hoffmann. Not only will the foundation support this research, it will fund a production of the completed opera. Hoffmann’s unfinished business comes to employ the talents of a great number of people in a...
(The entire section is 1772 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1990)
The Christian Century. CVI, February 1, 1989, p.43.
London Review of Books. X, November 10, 1988, p.19.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. January 29, 1989, p.2.
The New Republic. CC, April 24, 1989, p.38.
The New York Review of Books. XXXVI, April 13, 1989, p.35.
The New York Times Book Review. XCIV, January 8, 1989, p.7.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXXIV, October 14, 1988, p.48.
Time. CXXXII, December 26, 1988, p.77.
The Times Literary Supplement. September 23, 1988, p.1040.
The Washington Post Book World. XVIII, December 18, 1988, p.3.
(The entire section is 67 words.)