Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Friday, September 25, 2020

The Lives of the Muses: Nine Women and The Artists They Inspired by Francine Prose - 2002

 The Lives of the Muses:  Nine Women and The Artists They Inspired by Francine 

Prose - 2002

After recently Reading Reading Like a Writer - A Guide for People that Love Books by Francine Prose i recalled I had snother of her books on my E reader, The Lives of the Muses: Nine Women and The Artists They Inspired.

These  are the Muses and their Artists:

Hester Thrale - Samuel Johnson 

Alice Liddell - Lewis Carroll

Elizabeth Siddal - Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Lou Andreas Salomé - Rilke and Nietsche

Gala Dali - Salvador Dali

Lee Miller - Man Ray and other photographers

Charis Weston - Edward Weston (photographer)

Suzanne Farrell - George Balanchine 

Yoko Ono - John Lennon

Prose begins with an account of the place of the Muses in ancient Greek Mythology.  Each chapter on an individual Muses also begjns with a lead into her account of the relationship of the Muses and their Artists through a digression into ancient Greece.

Of  the artists covered I am most familiar with Samuel Johnson whom i first began to read about fifty years ago.  Once on a two week excursion to London I visited fhe Johnson House Museum.  While there i read his poem London” everyday.  I stopped and had lunch at the historic Old Chedder Cheese Pub where he often dined.

Of course like every one else I have read the two Alice books. In 2014 I read a biography by a leading authority, Lewis Carroll The Man and His Circle by Edward Wakeling.  Like his subject Wakeling is an Oxford Don.  Carroll’s muse was about ten when he met her. The relationship ended when she turned 13, as directed by Alice’s mother.  Prose deals with the big question here- what is up with the nude and erotic photographs of pre-adolescent girls?  

“He was very into photography for many years and now the big question about Carroll comes up.  What is behind the many, about 1500 photographers of young girls, including nude photographs.  Why did a mature Oxford Don love to socialize with young girls?” Edward Wakeling

Wakeling tries to defuse the long raging controversary concerning whether or not Carroll was sexually interested in young girls by telling us several times he also photographed young boys and socialized with them also. I found that a tremendously poor defense

The answer is still unknown.  Carroll never married and never had any sex of any kind.  He took a vow of celibacy on becoming a Don. No one suspected him of being a pedophile, just odd, though he made Alice’s mother uncomfortable.

I have been to the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida and read a bit of Rossetti and have viewed jmages of pre-Raphalite art.

On the rest i have no knowledge.  I was never into post Beattles John Lennon music.

I found her thoughts on Johnson and Thrale to challenge my conception of their relationship.

One issue is of course do  the Muses sleep with their artists?  The modern answer would be “it’s complicated”.  The Lives of the Muses: Nine Women and The Artists They Inspired was consistently fascinating.

I was left with a question- are there any male muses to well known female artists ?



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