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The Lives of the Muses: Nine Women & the…

The Lives of the Muses: Nine Women & the Artists They Inspired (original 2002; edition 2003)

by Francine Prose

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4681131,701 (3.35)14
Title:The Lives of the Muses: Nine Women & the Artists They Inspired
Authors:Francine Prose
Info:Harper Perennial (2003), Paperback, 448 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Lives of the Muses: Nine Women & the Artists They Inspired by Francine Prose (2002)



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Informative while remaining enjoyable and engaging. I would recommend to anyone interested in the lives of artists and the people who inspire them, or just the creative process in general. I didn't even know most of the work Prose referred to and still enjoyed the book, so don't let that stop you from picking it up. ( )
  shulera1 | Jun 7, 2016 |
Francine Prose covers the lives of nine muses; the women who inspired creativity and passion in their artists. Prose's introduction sums up the impetus behind the book saying, "The desire to explore the mystery of inspiration, to determine who or what is the "moving cause" of art, resembles the impulse to find out a magician's secrets" (page 2). Prose begins Lives of the Muses with Hester Thrale. Despite being a married woman, her influence on Dr. Samuel Johnson was profound. Prose then moves on to such well known muses as Alice Liddell, Gala Dali, Lee Miller and of course, Yoko Ono. She also includes lesser known muses (to me, at least) such as Elizabeth Siddal, Lou Andreas Salome and Suzanne Farrell. The residual appreciation I gleaned from reading Lives of the Muses was an education in Rossetti and Miller's art. I couldn't read another word without looking up such pieces as Awakening Conscience, Found, Remington Silent and Night and Day, respectively. Attaching the visual to the imagination was a bonus, especially when it came to Dali's over-the-top creativity and strangeness. The only aspect of Lives of the Muses I found detracting was the myriad of speculative opinions Prose insisted on voicing. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Mar 20, 2015 |
In the book, Francine Prose has chosen to write about nine muses throughout the late 19th and 20th century’s. Women such as Gala Dali, Suzanne Farrell, Yoko Ono and Lou Andreas-Salome are presented in a haphazard examination of the years they spent with the artists who found them to be inspirational. In some cases the reader is plopped into a muses life at the time of meeting her artist then suddenly taken back to her childhood, back to her artist, only to time travel to her death or divorce and finally back to her life with the artist. This style proved to be very uneven and perplexing. Thus, I rarely felt any connection to either the artist or his muse and their attributes were often one dimensional.
This collection does, however, supply some interesting information on Charles Dodgson and Salvadore Dali, information which was new to me but maybe known to others.
After, finally, completing The Lives of the Muses I realized why I began this book so many years ago and put it aside. For one, the writing is as dry as my skin in January. Secondly, in some cases, I simply can’t understand why these pairs were chosen when so little was accomplished by the artist during their moment with their muse. Either their best work was behind them or to come, in which case the muse was sometimes given credit. ( )
3 vote Carmenere | Jan 19, 2011 |
This is about 9 sets of modern artists and muses, beginning with Hester Thrale and Samuel Johnson and ending with Yoko Ono and John Lennon. Each relationship is different, but the common thread is that they are all dysfunctional. Many of them were romantic relationships in which one or both of the artist and muse were already married to someone else. Prose spends a lot of time trying to puzzle out whether Charles Dodgson was a pedophile and what exactly his relationship with Alice Liddell was about. The only slightly-normal relationship Prose examines is between Suzanne Farrell and George Balanchine. Although George wanted it to be sexual, Farrell refused; plus, they are they were, in a way, muses for each other but not competitors. I found all the stories to be tremendously interesting. Prose is a good writer, and she makes the relationships between the artists and muses come alive, despite the fact that they are so bizarre. ( )
  carlym | Jan 16, 2011 |
This books serves as a fine introduction to the artist/muse concept, but Prose sacrifices a lot of page space to repetition, even though the ideas she explores would benefit from further investigation. Each section recycles ideas from earlier chapters, which would be helpful if she had taken her theories deeper each time, but instead she simply repeats herself... I feel like a strict editor could have been very helpful. ( )
  rmariem | Apr 16, 2010 |
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For Robert Jones
Editor, Friend, Muse Supreme
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In the Spring of 1932, at the age of eighty, Alice Pleasance Liddell Hargreaves sailed into New York Harbor to collect an honorary Ph.D. from Columbia University for having inspired, for having been, Alice in Wonderland.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060555254, Paperback)

In The Lives of the Muses, Francine Prose writes a spirited and enlightening exposé of nine women who fired the imaginations of some of the most inimitable artists and thinkers of the 19th and 20th centuries. With wicked wit, she shows how these women were both exemplars of their times and iconoclasts struggling to assert their own identity within the unconventional relationships they formed with these men. In doing so, she undertakes an examination of the concept of the muse in all its permutations--from the static nine Muses of classical Greek mythology, through Dante's oft-recycled Beatrice, to its ironized figuration in contemporary popular culture.

In addition to Alice Liddell, Prose looks at the following women: Hester Thrale, a long-suffering brewer's wife whose romantic friendship allowed the depressive Dr. Samuel Johnson to continue writing; the tormented Elizabeth Siddal, an opium-addicted artist who became Beatrice to Pre-Raphaelite painter and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti; Lou Andreas-Salome, who captivated and aroused a triumvirate of original thinkers: Friedrich Nietzsche, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Sigmund Freud; the "imperious" Gala Dali, who continued to sleep with her ex-husband, poet Paul Eluard, even as she transformed herself into a phenomenal marketing machine for surrealist Salvador Dali; Lee Miller, a model who mastered the techniques of Man Ray and others, and became a talented photographer; Suzanne Farrell, a ballerina who incarnated, animated, and was inspired to great heights of artistry by the compositions of choreographer George Balanchine; Charis Weston, one in a long line of the erotically restless Edward Weston's cast-off art wives and lovers; and the infamous Yoko Ono, who fought fiercely for recognition as an avant-garde artist as she sought to subserve John Lennon into the role of muse.

Prose draws on photographs, diaries, correspondence, memoirs, and original works of art that reveal the complexity of these artist-muse relationships, and that direct her readers to other books should their curiosity be piqued (as it undoubtedly will). Author Prose has a talent for writing provocative, invigorating prose that engages and excites the reader, inspiring them to undertake wider reading. --Diana Kuprel, Amazon.ca

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:34 -0400)

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"The victims are always the same: beautiful, successful, and blond. Someone was able to coax these intelligent and confident women away from safety. Someone was able to gain their trust long enough to do the unthinkable. Their shocking murders have terrified the inhabitants of a small, peaceful town where such heinous crimes are simply not supposed to happen. Police Chief Rafe Sullivan knows he has to find answers fast before another woman is lured to her death - but Sullivan literally doesn't have a clue. And when the FBI sends one of their top profilers to help, he's more than a little surprised that his new partner is nothing like the straight-by-the-book "suit" he expects." "Special Agent Isabel Adams is tough, fearless, determined, and every bit Sullivan's equal. She's also psychic." "And blond.". "Skeptical of his new partner's ability to get inside the mind of a killer, Sullivan can't deny that Isabel has tuned in to the killer's wavelength, is following the twisted thoughts of a murder obsessed with stalking, seduction, and death. But in getting so close, Isabel has set herself up as the next victim. Now, with time running out, she and Rafe will find themselves forced to take the greatest risk of all, because this psychopath is playing for keeps and Isabel is the perfect trophy." "Unable to turn back, Isabel may have already gone too far. Smart, savvy, and confident, she may find that the very qualities that have kept her alive could turn out to be her undoing. For Isabel has entered the world of a cold-blooded monster who kills without mercy and eludes every sense but one...the sense of evil."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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