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Orfeo por Richard Powers
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Orfeo (2014)

por Richard Powers

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaDiscussões / Menções
7584422,491 (3.6)1 / 97
Composer Peter Els --the "Bioterrorist Bach" -- pays a final visit to the people he loves, those who shaped his musical journey and, through the help of his ex-wife, his daughter, and his longtime collaborator, he hatches a plan to turn his disastrous collision with Homeland Security into a work of art that will reawaken its audience to the sounds all around them.… (mais)
Autores:Richard Powers
Colecções:A sua biblioteca, Lidos mas não possuídos
Etiquetas:muziek, wetenschap

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Orfeo por Richard Powers (2014)

Adicionado recentemente porbiblioteca privada, Dharuma, Ellimon, jlabarge, bhowell, riprapper, FluffyThePoodle, cindycates, BransonSchool
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Mostrando 1-5 de 44 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Required reading for every composer, musician, and creative type attempting to create transcendence in the post-9/11 world. ( )
  AaronG_19460 | Jul 10, 2021 |
I *really* wanted to like this—it was recommended by a friend, and the main character is a musician/composer who attended University of Illinois. I found it overly weird (which I often really like) and disjointed. So, I was disappointed, and I can't recommend it. ( )
  joyblue | Jan 22, 2021 |
I enjoyed the great scope and range of Overstory, so I wanted to dip into Powers' earlier novels and found Orfeo first. Instead of trees and the natural world at the center of this one, it's music, but it is just as absorbing a tale, and now I'm going to have to be sure to look up more of Powers' books. ( )
1 vote JBD1 | Dec 15, 2020 |
"A man. A man and his emotional history. A man and his emotional history and bioterrorism."

I'll be honest: I came into this book expecting something far, far different from what it is. But that's not my fault. Reviewers, both professional and goodreading, hail Richard Powers as The Great American Novelist, a man the equal of Melville. He is an intellectual titan, unsparing in his pursuit of Art, who demands total commitment from his readers and then rewards them with genius.

Well, not here. This is a book about a guy who feels guilt over the death of his father and tries to do What Dad Would Have Wanted, until he falls in Love with a Girl, who bumps him off the WWDHD? track and onto the Great Artist track. She dumps him, and he tries to create Great Art over this fact. He meets another girl, and marries her. Then he leaves her because he's committed to Art. Late in life he receives a shock, and goes on a road trip to apologize to his ex-wife and his daughter and to see his best friend one last time. Then he dies.

Now, you'll note that none of the above features in the marketing/reviewing of the book. What does feature in the marketing is A Man and His Bioterrorism and the Orpheus myth. Certainly, that's there. But it's just kind of there, doing nothing. I suspect that twenty years from now the DIY DNA stuff will feel as dated as the references to twitter and flash mobs do already. The novel could easily have been written without that (even the ties between Els and Orpheus are obvious enough, as he 'turns back' and loses his wife. True, without the bioterrorism, he wouldn't have been torn apart by 'maenads' at the end).

So I spent some time trying to work out exactly why everyone thinks this is an intellectual tour de force. Some unconvincing answers:

i) People know so little about modern music that a (very good) chapter on Messiaen and a couple of references to Partch make it seem like a revelation of secret rites. Give Powers his due: writing ekphrasis of music is not easy, and though he doesn't exactly make it thrilling, he does a reasonable job. These chapters also form a kind of short history of twentieth century music: we move from a kind of prologue (Mozart's Jupiter) to Mahler's Kindertotenlieder, Messiaen's Quartet, a Cage nonsense-in, Reich's 'Proverb', and Lieberson's Neruda Songs. It's cool that someone wrote a novel about a modern composer.

ii) There's science in there, though very little of it and there's no obvious reason for it being there.

But I think there's a better justification for the book. This is the first Powers I've read, but I assume his reputation is not based on the Barnes & Noble front table realism you get here. I assume he has written dense, difficult books.

And if so, this is Powers' Parmenides (Plato), his Sacred Fount (James): the book in which he looks back at what he's done, and notices some problems. Els wanted to create 'pure' music, in the twentieth century manner, but he could never quite manage it--people insist that his pieces are listenable, even marketable. But he makes peace with the idea that much difficult music may never gain a large audience, but also expects that difficulty, currently out of fashion (it is), will come back into style at some point.

Difficult literature has a small audience, and will never have a large one. Books like 'Orfeo', on the other hand, could (if fortunate) gain a large readership. Is the tradeoff worth it? Els ended up pretending to have unleashed musically modified bacteria into the world, or actually releasing them, and gaining a massive audience by doing so: people love publicity. They do not love art.

'Orfeo' replicates this exactly: it is not difficult, it is not great art, but it is about contemporary buzzwords. Voila, The Great American Novel. It is competent and buzzworthy, and it will sell. Unlike previous Great American Novels, however (Twain, Salinger), it is easy in a highly self-aware way. That's a small step forward. Worst case scenario, its readers will go buy a copy of the Quartet for the End of Time.


PS: This novel is, in other words, to nineteenth century Great Artist novels what Jeffrey Eugenides' 'The Marriage Plot' is to nineteenth century novels of Lurv, with the difference that Powers is a good writer and his book is worth reading, when you're on an airplane sometime. Don't expect profundity, though.

PPS: Unless there's some profundity to be had in the musings on creating art for eternity and what that means in a post-religious world. In short, it seems to mean unifying art and nature, which will continue after humanity has ceased. I don't find that profound, but a more committed secular-scientist nature worshiping type of reader might, and there's something to be said for that. ( )
  stillatim | Oct 23, 2020 |
To read this book, it would help to have a music degree or working knowledge of classical composers and composition. That, or the ability to read through descriptions and references to thing you have only a passing familiarity with. I really liked this book at the start, but then I got tired of slogging through mentions of composers names I vaguely know, recognizing that there's supposed to be something funny or meaningful in the comparisons Powers is making but not having the level of knowledge to get it. A bit more than halfway through I only read the present-day sections when Els is seen as a bioterrorist because the flashbacks were too exhausting. ( )
  katebrarian | Jul 28, 2020 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 44 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Powers has not wholly solved the problem of writing about music without resort to technical language. To be fair, it is probably insoluble. The novel's evocations of musical pleasure will work best for readers who understand what, for example, suspensions or "strident minor sixths" are; but a lot of the musical description accomplishes impressively imagistic things with the most familiar possible terminology: names of instruments, "crescendo", the kinds of spatial metaphor with which music is always already riddled. ("The sopranos chase each other up a cosmic staircase, driven higher by the lurching vibraphones.") Cleverly, Powers makes sure to use as many vocal analogies as possible, since everybody knows what the human voice does: its verbs are as familiar to Lady Gaga fans as to creators of squeaky-door opera.


Very often, this novel makes you want to scurry to CD player or iPod to listen along. In that infectious enthusiasm, Orfeo is the equivalent in fiction of Alex Ross's history of 20th-century music, The Rest Is Noise. But whereas Ross's book fades out in the fragmentary soundscape of our day, Powers supplies a galloping finale that is sweet, funny, sad and haunting all at once, and comes to a halt on the edge of a precipice. The rest is silence.
adicionada por aileverte | editarThe Guardian, Steven Poole (Apr 11, 2014)
Richard Powers talks about his novel Orfeo, which tells the story of a composer's home microbiology lab, the latest experiment in his lifelong attempt to find music in surprising patterns, has aroused the suspicions of Homeland Security. He becomes fugitive after the police raid his home, and an Internet-fueled hysteria erupts, referring to him as the "Bioterrorist Bach."

Listen to interview with the author on WNYC website:
adicionada por aileverte | editarWNYC, The Leonard Lopate Show (Jan 21, 2014)
And with all this excitement around music, in this retelling of the Orpheus myth Powers also manages enchantment—or, re-enchantment, if you, like so many of us, believe the world today needs that. Told largely as retrospection even as the story moves forward—“walking backward into the future,” as Els experiences it—Orfeo reveals how a life, and the narrative of a life, accumulates, impossibly, infinitely, from every direction. On the one hand, the fleeing Els, like Orpheus, cannot help but look back. And as with Orpheus, there must be consequences for his looking. But in a book about music, and with Powers a whole career about music, it’s no surprise when Els eventually says, “Seeing is overrated.” We see in one direction. We cannot see God and go on living.
adicionada por aileverte | editarSlate.com, Scott Korb (Jan 10, 2014)
These characters are not free of the flaws Powers is often taxed with. They can be clunkily sentimental; they descend to cliché (“We had energy. We had ideas”); their motives are sometimes conventional, sometimes obscure. Nor is the patented lyricism of Powers’s writing always effective. For every happy hit (“The predawn sky was beginning to peach”), there’s a wince-maker like “skirting a cairn of cat turd”
adicionada por ozzer | editarNew York Times, JIM HOLT (Jan 10, 2014)

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Wikipédia em inglês (1)

Composer Peter Els --the "Bioterrorist Bach" -- pays a final visit to the people he loves, those who shaped his musical journey and, through the help of his ex-wife, his daughter, and his longtime collaborator, he hatches a plan to turn his disastrous collision with Homeland Security into a work of art that will reawaken its audience to the sounds all around them.

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Média: (3.6)
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