Hugh
Hugh asked:

Who has any thoughts about Egan's choice of the Orpheus (the god of music) and Eurydice (his lover who he almost saves from Hades) for the piece that the Uncle is fixated on in the museum? I wondered if he imagined it was himself and Sasha (gave me creepy worries about him), but it is also thematically consistent with the book's central message.

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Ryan Greer I think it's a clever analogy. He does love Sasha, just not in the same way that Orpheus would have loved Eurydice. I think in some ways Creepy Uncle Ted was also looking to be saved, from his own life and struggles, which is a strong theme throughout the entire book. (I, too, was also a little worried during that plotline but was relieved to discover that his love for her was really a longing for the love that the younger version of himself had for the younger version of herself) Great writing!
Heather S I don't think there was anything creepy in his love for Sasha, especially when she was a child. Her mother was in an abusive relationship and Ted took her to the beach to protect he from seeing the violence and possibly getting hurt.
Perhaps he tried to get his sister to leave but she wouldn't until the husband smashed her collarbone, in which case he would see her as allowing it to happen. He would be protecting baby Sasha from them both, the violent father and enabling mother.

Ted was the closest to a safe father figure she had in that moment. He wanted to bundle her up and take her away from it, and possibly felt guilty that he didn't.

They bonded, and it's a strange bond. I think when he sees her as an adult (or teen?) it unnerves him to see her as a woman. back to the theme of time passing, the little girl he loved and wanted to protect is now a beautiful woman who doesn't want protecting, but maybe needs it.
Cameron Stuart Expanding from Ryan's idea of Ted as a Eurydice looking to be saved, I also see a considerable amount of Orpheus in Ted. His true passion is art, a Eurydice that he has given up to family, work and the "goon" of time itself. His visit to Italy presents an alternative to Orpheus wallowing in self pity, spurning passion for the rest of his mortal days and eventually being torn to shreds, quite literally, by his refusal to come to terms with the loss of his great passion. I certainly believe the Orpheus and Eurydice significance can be read a multitude of ways. An idea I also considered was Ted viewing Sasha as a pre-matrimony Orpheus, still passionate about the world and chasing dreams, rather than the wallowing state he now finds his life to be submerged in.
MLBN I was definitely slightly creeped out by him at that point, too. Especially when he started talking about his possessive desire to 'save' her when she was a child, and then how he was terrified of being near her while he was in Naples. It would have answered some questions about her issues.
Osman Junior I noticed the theme of his thesis too. It was about how Cézanne represented sounds in his paintings. I think thats what Egan was trying to do, but for literature. Just an idea.
Joe Clarke I can't see how Ted was imagining himself as Orpheus as at that point he was actively not looking for Sasha. Unless it was a subconscious dig at himself for not doing more to find her.
Hugh Okay, not "god of music." But mythologically great musician.
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by Jennifer Egan (Goodreads Author)
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