Book review: Colm Tóibín, House of Names

2018-04-21 10.26.48

I’m always interested to see how contemporary writers retell stories from the ancient world. When it’s done well, it can lead to a fascinating interplay between the ancient and modern versions of the stories – for instance, see my previous review of a wonderful collection of short stories based (loosely) around the Odyssey. I had pretty high hopes when House of Names, by the Irish novelist Colm Tóibín, was published in 2017. The book is based on the myths of the House of Atreus, as told in various Greek tragedies such as Aeschylus’ Oresteia trilogy: Agamemnon’s sacrifice of his daughter Iphigenia on his departure to the Trojan War; his murder, and that of the Trojan princess Cassandra, by his wife Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus on his return; her subsequent murder by her son Orestes, encouraged by his sister Electra). Plenty of scope for a novelist of Tóibín’s talents (his novel on Irish migration to America, Brooklyn, won the Costa Book award and became a bestseller, and I can definitely recommend it) – and also, I have to say, an excellent cover, with the swallows from the Spring Fresco of Akrotiri.

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More ancient music!

For fans of reconstructions of ancient music, here’s a post by a friend about a recent reconstruction of an ancient Greek tragic chorus – complete with a link to a podcast of the piece’s first performance!

Greek Tragedies were as much musical as theatrical performances. Much of the text uttered by the Chorus, and some by individual characters as well, was sung. The ancient tragedians were as much composers as writers, creating both the texts and the musical settings. Indeed, in Aristophanes’ Frogs, when the ghosts of Aeschylus and Euripides fight […]

via The Music of Tragedy — historiai