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Publisher's Summary

The Cornish Foundation, set up with money left by the late art expert, collector, and notable eccentric Francis Cornish, must choose a worthy undertaking upon which to expend a portion of its considerable funds. It is decided that the Foundation will fund the doctoral work of one Hulda Schnakenburg: a grumpy, difficult, and extraordinarily talented music student. Her task is to complete the score of an unfinished opera by the Romantic composer E. T. A. Hoffmann.Additionally, and against all common sense, the Foundation will undertake to stage the opera, entitled Arthur of Britain or The Magnanimous Cuckold. As the production takes shape, Hoffmann's restless spirit hovers rather too close for comfort, and his dictum "The lyre of Orpheus opens the door of the underworld" proves prophetic for many a participant as their lives begin to resemble the opera's plot.
©1988 Robertson Davies; (P)1996 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"With his wonderfully complex yet controlled plot, deft portrayal of eccentric characters, and great wit, Davies effectively satirizes the world of universities and foundations." (Library Journal)
"[Davidson] provides an intelligent, expressive, well-paced rendering of the narrative...as well as vivid impersonations of the characters." (AudioFile)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Suzanne Haraburd on 04-14-10

A worthy successor to Dickens.

Robertson Davies is a recent discovery and what a treasure! The Lyre of Orpheus is my second favorite book of his, not far behind the first book in this trilogy, The Rebel Angels, both of them comic masterpieces. The middle book, What's Bred in the Bone, begins with a very boring exposition of the class origins of the central character, Francis Cornish. When Francis grows up, the books gets much more interesting. You need all three books for the third book to have its maximum impact. Frederick Davidson (a/k/a David Case), my favorite narrator, makes these books come alive. Well worth your time!

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By Alison Victoria on 01-02-10

Great book, narration so so

I love Robertson Davies, although I think the first two of the Cornish Trilogy are better. However, I took one star off for the narration. It is very difficult to imitate accents and the narrator tries too hard. He is irregular in many of the accents and the worst is Geraint Powell. Sometimes he uses a vaguely British accent and other times he uses an Indian accent. It gets in the way of the story, unfortunately. He would have done better just reading the story and not trying to make it a one-man play. This is a book that is clearly part of a trilogy. It should be read after the first two. Robertson Davies's characters have stayed in my mind through the years like old friends.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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