House of Names
'They cut her hair before they dragged her to the place of sacrifice. Her mouth was gagged to stop her cursing her father, her cowardly, two-tongued father. Nonetheless, they heard her muffled screams.'
On the day of his daughter's wedding, Agamemnon orders her sacrifice.
His daughter is led to her death, and Agamemnon leads his army into battle, where he is rewarded with...more
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There are books that you can see they are glorious 5- star material before you even reach page 50. Colm Toibin is one of those writers and House of Names is one of those books.
"I have been acquainted with the smell of death."
Don't tell me I need spoiler alerts...I shall be very disappointed...
Death is always the ...more
Tobin sets his story at a time when the power of the God ...more
The House ...more
The sections narrated by Clytemnestra are the most powerful. Dr ...more
It's unfortunate that the first Toibin book I read was this one, as I just couldn't get into it.
The writing is superb, no doubt about it.
It's the story that is the problem, or my brain not being able, or better said, willing to reconcile the gruesome past with the present realities. I'm sorry to say, I see no point in these mytholo ...more
François Perrier: The Sacrifice of Iphigenia (detail)
The basic story, of course, is that of Aeschylus' Oresteia: a chain of killings, each in revenge for the other. King Agamemnon of Argos, the leader of the Greeks, prevented by contrary winds from setting sail for Troy. sacrifices his eldest daughter, Iphigenia, to appease the gods. Years pass before Agamemnon returns, only to be killed in revenge by his wife Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus. Years pass aga ...more
"We live in a strange time,’ Electra said. ‘A time when the gods are fading. Some of us still see them but there are times when we don’t. Their power is waning. Soon, it will be a different world. It will be ruled by the light of day. Soon it will be a world barely worth inhabiting. You should feel lucky that you were touched by the old world, that in that house it brushed you with its wings."
I LOVE a good Greek tragedy. And this was great. It brought an immensely human aspect to all these cha ...more
A strange, dispassionate kind of book, but compelling none the less.
An interesting read. Prior to reading this, I had no knowledge of Electra or Orestes, so it was a good introduction to the story (I'm a sucker for anything to do with the ancient Greeks!). The story is told from multiple perspectives, outlining the sacrifice of Orestes' sister by his father, Agamemnon, the murder of Agamemnon (by his wife), and Orest ...more
The focal point of the story changes frequently. Clytemnestra and Electra get to narrate their parts, whereas Orestes has an omniscient third person narrator. Tóibín's account is equally at home describin ...more
This is a story that I've loved for years, and have loved enough to read it in multiple iterations by different authors. Which begs ...more
Clytemnestra is one of my favourite women from Greek Tragedy and one of her monologues in particular is quite possibly my favourite of all the speeches. So...lots of favour going on here. Writing her story is something i've wanted to do for years, so when I saw Toibin had done it I was both pleased and annoyed that he beat me to it. Perhaps that coloured my response to it but I felt that he has fundamentally misunderstood or misrepresented her character. He has made her smaller. ...more
This novel is a retelling of the murder of Agamemnon, the Greek army leader and king who, at the beginning of the Trojan War, sacrificed his oldest daughter Iphigenia so that the Greek ships could sail to Troje. Ten years after the war Agamemnon r ...more
When I read my first novel by Tóibín - the “Blackwater lightship” - I was swept away by his ability to get into the character’s heads. In t ...more
I was immediately drawn to this book by the synopsis. I read any retellings or continuations of The Odyssey or The Iliad, my favorite so far being The Song of Achilles. I've also become a fan of Tóibín lately, so I jumped on his new release.
To clear up any confusion this book does not take any inspiration from the ancient texts, which I wish I had known when I started because ...more
I tell you this man can take a muddy puddle and make you think it is a fresh spring shower!!
I thought I was done with mythology back in college. I had two literature classes devoted to mythology and thought I had read and reviewed it all. However, with all the authors coming out with up to date revised books on the Bard and mythology I am thoroughly enjoying the stories.
This is not only one of my favorite authors, but it is his rendition of a Greek tragedy. Toibin's writing literall ...more
When Agamemnon decides to sacrifice his daughter to the gods to gain their support for his war, his wife Clytemnestra plots a bloody and horrific revenge. In her grief and rage, she doesn't consider the profound effects her actions will have on her surviving children – Electra, silently watching as her mother finds herself at the mercy of her lover and fellow conspirator, Aegisthus; and young Orestes, exiled from his home and facing many dangers as he fights for survival.
Clytemnestra the first part of the book is written really well, it's engaging and appears to be setting things up for a great story, which it is, how ever for me the other characters weren't as strong and I wasn't invested in them at all.
There were for me some strange word choices ie 'Often they saw supplicants but usually they were alone' It might just be me but it felt really 'clunky'. I would have thought ' Sometimes they saw suppli ...more
I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I'm not familiar with the original legend. This story is full of revenge, deception, murders, isolation. It all blends together for an intriguing story.
The character of Clytemnestra was the strongest portrayed. At first, her motivations seemed fueled in revenge & rage. But then she seemed to turn on her remaining children. Her son is removed and isolated; her remaining daughter i ...more
“The houses were all filled with names,” she said. “All the names. This house was...”
She put her head down and did not say anything more.
When I read (and loved) Colm Tóibín's The Testament of Mary, I had the advantage of a familiarity with the New Testament, and I was therefore able to recognise where Tóibín's account differed from the “official record” and appreciated the ensuing ironies. With House of Names, however, having no prior knowledge of the saga of Agamemnon (as detailed in Aeschyl ...more
I admit to being somewhat confused as to what Toibin's project was. The most innovative part - an invented backstory for our proto-Hamlet Orestes (who Toibin imbues with a strongly Hamletian dithering character) - ...more