House of Names (英語) ハードカバー – 2017/5/18
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'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 glorious victory.
Three years later, he returns home and his murderous action has set the entire family - mother, brother, sister - on a path of intimate violence, as they enter a world of hushed commands and soundless journeys through the palace's dungeons and bedchambers. As his wife seeks his death, his daughter, Electra, is the silent observer to the family's game of innocence while his son, Orestes, is sent into bewildering, frightening exile where survival is far from certain. Out of their desolating loss, Electra and Orestes must find a way to right these wrongs of the past even if it means committing themselves to a terrible, barbarous act.
House of Names is a story of intense longing and shocking betrayal. It is a work of great beauty, and daring, from one of our finest living writers.
Part of Toibin's success comes down to the power of his writing: an almost unfaultable combination of artful restraint and wonderfully observed detail . . . Unforgettable (Mary Beard New York Times)
A giant amongst storytellers, Toibin has thrown down the gauntlet with his latest novel . . . And it is a masterpiece (Edith Hall Daily Telegraph)
A gorgeous stylist, Tóibín captures the subtle flutterings of consciousness better than any writer alive . . . Never before has Tóibín demonstrated such range, not just in tone but in action. He creates the arresting, hushed scenes for which he's so well known just as effectively as he whips up murders that compete, pint for spilled pint, with those immortal Greek playwrights (Washington Post)
Brilliant retelling of a Greek Tragedy... This is a novel that is a celebration of what novels can do. (Alex Preston Observer)
Considerable Game of Thrones appeal...instead of cheap narrative tricks and resolutions we're left with images of desolation and thwarted love (Financial Times)
A devastatingly human story...savage, sordid and hauntingly believable (Guardian)
The book has a controlled hushed quality, like that of a Morandi still life, which only serves to heighten the terror and pity of the tale (John Banville)
Colm Tóibín turns Greek Myths into flesh and blood..The writing is characteristically elegant, spare and subtle. ..The scenes between Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus darkly sexy (The Times)
An extraordinarily sympathetic and intimate portrait (Literary Review)
In Toibin's careful hands, the story of Clytemnestra, who avenges her daughter after her husband Agamemnon sacrifices her to secure safe passage from Troy, is told with such a vivid grasp of the emotional pulse that even those who know the story well will be transfixed. (Claire Allfree Daily Mail)
To the Greeks, Clytemnestra was a horror. Women murdering husbands for a wrongdoing was bad for the business of patriarchy--a system to which they were firmly attached. To modern sensibilities, Clytemnestra is far more sympathetic. Her hatred understandable. Her lust for power hardly abhorrent. Toibin wisely steers clear of the past and present "role of women" angle and focuses upon the personal. By simply narrating her calculated hatred Clytemnestra becomes even more terrifying--magnificently horrific. Killing Agamemnon is the closest she will ever feel to happiness. The counterpoint to Clytemnestra is daughter Electra whose reaction was to blame the mother who failed to prevent the killing of a beloved sister. Hers is a role that has given great comfort to misogyny through the ages.
The one failing of Toibin's retelling is he doesn't seem to know what to do with Orestes whose appearance in several chapters leaves more questions than answers. In the Oresteia, Aeschylus's telling of events, Orestes reestablishes order (i.e., male authority) but a resolve to kill one's own mother is hardly an endearing trait. He's a conundrum for the modern reader: damned if he does, damned if he doesn't. Complicating things further, Toibin depicts a loving childhood relationship between the two and a young boy present at his sister's murder. The modern reader expects more sympathy from him or at least less judgment. It's all very uncathartic and in that regard very un-Greek, a culture that firmly believed catharsis essential to any successful drama. That lack of resolution was annoying for me but others may not care.
Toibin's prose is always splendid. Sometimes dazzling. Whether or not you care about myth and legend, if you enjoy beautiful prose then House of Names will be a pleasure.
Orestes grows into a man of promise with the potential of being a better warrior and a better king than his father, yet, regardless of what he does, he can never quite fill the place that was meant to be his. Toibin leaves the reason for his failure somewhat vague. Is it because he succumbs to the control of his vengeful sister, Elektra? Or because he loses the respect of Leander, his friend and lover? Perhaps he has just been away too long, or perhaps he and his family are cursed?
Initially I wondered why Toibin didn't include the points of view of Aegisthes or Agamemnon. I can't be sure, but I think it may be because he wanted to focus on blood--blood spilled and blood as one's genetic inheritance, and the way that blood influences a family and the events surrounding it for generations. To do that, the focus clearly had to remain on Clytemnestra--herself the result of a violent rape--and her offspring.
My only complaint is that House of Names has a rather abrupt, somewhat unfathomable conclusion that left me unsatisfied. I feel like I need to go back and reread the last section, since I don't quite know what Toibin was attempting to do here. But all in all, it was a good read (especially on the heels of some really bad ones).