The story of Orpheus’s tragic quest into the underworld to rescue his true love Eurydice back from the dead is one that has haunted the western imagination for over 2,000 years through many tellings, re-tellings, appropriations and adaptations.
A unique coming together of poetry, art and criticism, Orpheus and Eurydice explores the myth’s impact through a graphic-poetic reconstruction of the story. Including critical reflections from leading thinkers, writers and critics, this is a compelling exploration of the enduring power of this tale.
Tom de Freston is a critically acclaimed artist, a Cultural Fellow at University of Birmingham, and Artistic Director at Wellcome Trust-funded organisation Medicine Unboxed.
Kiran Millwood Hargrave is an award-winning poet, playwright, and author of the bestselling novel The Girl of Ink & Stars.
“There is a radical honesty about this book, one which grabs you where it hurts and pulls you in. It’s like eavesdropping on your own repressions, and just as thrilling, disturbing and compulsive. It’s also like slipping into the space between-the space between self and self; self and other; self and death; self and history; self and poverty; self and woeful, serious, inconsolable responsibility; self and atavistic, inescapable myth. That space between is where we live, if we live anywhere, and yet it is really seen or named. It is especially rarely seen or named in present-day culture and publishing, where everything is secured in advance by a marketable career, recognised expertise, established precedent. Between author and author, word and image, criticism and creativity, this book stakes out a different territory, one which corresponds with the state of tremulous and passionate mortality in which we are both most profoundly together and most tragically bereft. Amen, perhaps, is an appropriate response.” – Professor Ewan Fernie, The Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham, UK
“Orpheus and Eurydice is not just a reworking of a myth but a machine of its own, firing in its wires fragments of polyphony. Ground-breaking in its creativity and the fertility of its imagination, it resists easy definitions of classification, and yet, its vulnerability and intimacy also makes it wholly accessible. I have little doubt that it’ll be the work against which future hybrid and collaborative endeavours are measured.” – Claire Trévien, founder of Sabotage Reviews, award-winning poet, author, and academic
“Exhilarating, visionary and genre-defying. A free-wheeling but ingeniously focused reimagining of Orpheus and Eurydice which renovates our expectations of the essay, art object, lyric, notebook, poetic sequence and everything in between with equal grace and accomplishment. This book somehow manages to be urgent essential reading and a treasury you’ll return to for years to come” – Luke Kennard, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing, University of Birmingham, UK
“Visually creative, academically informed, and imaginatively conceived, the riveting interplay of prose and poetry, at once witty and poignant, recasts Orpheus and Eurydice – illuminatingly, but darkly – as the archetypal ciphers O and E.” – Leon Burnett, Founding Director of the Centre of Myth Studies and Honorary Senior Lecturer in the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, University of Essex, UK
“A beautiful discourse on modern marriage with images and texts of psychological inter-penetration and comic dissonance.” – Lydia Goehr, Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University, USA
“This is a highly original and creative response to an ancient myth. Tom de Freston’s artwork is vivid, shocking and expressive, beautifully enhanced by Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s moving poetic narrative.” – Abigail Rokison-Woodall, Lecturer in Shakespeare and Theatre, The Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham, UK and author of Shakespeare for Young People
“Tom de Freston and Kiran Milwood Hargrave’s ingenious volume expands and revitalises the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice for new audiences, giving fresh life to themes of obsession, pain and loss as they invent compelling dialogues between character, text and thought.” – James Walters, Head of Film and Creative Writing, University of Birmingham, UK
“Neither poetry alone nor prose, neither academic writing (alone) nor fiction, and definitely not word without image, Orpheus and Eurydice is the passion of her absence. Do not ‘enjoy’ this book, feel it. The graphic novel is fast becoming the most poetic and provocative genre of our times and this volume is an exquisite example.” – Angie Voela, University of East London, UK