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All loved, and were loved by, their artists, and inspired them with an intensity of emotion akin to Eros.

In a brilliant, wry, and provocative book, National Book Award finalist Francine Prose explores the complex relationship between the artist and his muse. In so doing, she illuminates with great sensitivity and intelligence the elusive emotional wellsprings of the creative process.

Topics: Art & Artists, Creativity, Writing, Love, Photography, Models, Women in History, Inspirational, Romantic, Essays, and Writers

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780061748509
List price: $9.99
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I like the book, or what I read of it. I couldn't tell, from the Table of Contents, who the muse was associated with, and thus couldn't decide ahead of time if it was a relationship I might be interested in. Briefly, I looked in at the beginning of each chapter, and felt I got bogged down trying to decide if a particular coupling was something I'd be interested in (if I didn't know which artist was involved, only the muse is named in the chapter heading). Each chapter was obviously well written, and I think would be especially interesting to anyone knowing or interested in the artist in question. For me, there were only a few I really cared to know more about. So my only suggestion would be adding the artist (used in the generic term, for any of the arts) next to the name of the muse.more
In the book, Francine Prose has chosen to write about nine muses throughout the late 19th and 20th century’s. Women such as Gala Dali, Suzanne Farrell, Yoko Ono and Lou Andreas-Salome are presented in a haphazard examination of the years they spent with the artists who found them to be inspirational. In some cases the reader is plopped into a muses life at the time of meeting her artist then suddenly taken back to her childhood, back to her artist, only to time travel to her death or divorce and finally back to her life with the artist. This style proved to be very uneven and perplexing. Thus, I rarely felt any connection to either the artist or his muse and their attributes were often one dimensional.This collection does, however, supply some interesting information on Charles Dodgson and Salvadore Dali, information which was new to me but maybe known to others.After, finally, completing The Lives of the Muses I realized why I began this book so many years ago and put it aside. For one, the writing is as dry as my skin in January. Secondly, in some cases, I simply can’t understand why these pairs were chosen when so little was accomplished by the artist during their moment with their muse. Either their best work was behind them or to come, in which case the muse was sometimes given credit.more
This is about 9 sets of modern artists and muses, beginning with Hester Thrale and Samuel Johnson and ending with Yoko Ono and John Lennon. Each relationship is different, but the common thread is that they are all dysfunctional. Many of them were romantic relationships in which one or both of the artist and muse were already married to someone else. Prose spends a lot of time trying to puzzle out whether Charles Dodgson was a pedophile and what exactly his relationship with Alice Liddell was about. The only slightly-normal relationship Prose examines is between Suzanne Farrell and George Balanchine. Although George wanted it to be sexual, Farrell refused; plus, they are they were, in a way, muses for each other but not competitors. I found all the stories to be tremendously interesting. Prose is a good writer, and she makes the relationships between the artists and muses come alive, despite the fact that they are so bizarre.more
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Reviews

I like the book, or what I read of it. I couldn't tell, from the Table of Contents, who the muse was associated with, and thus couldn't decide ahead of time if it was a relationship I might be interested in. Briefly, I looked in at the beginning of each chapter, and felt I got bogged down trying to decide if a particular coupling was something I'd be interested in (if I didn't know which artist was involved, only the muse is named in the chapter heading). Each chapter was obviously well written, and I think would be especially interesting to anyone knowing or interested in the artist in question. For me, there were only a few I really cared to know more about. So my only suggestion would be adding the artist (used in the generic term, for any of the arts) next to the name of the muse.more
In the book, Francine Prose has chosen to write about nine muses throughout the late 19th and 20th century’s. Women such as Gala Dali, Suzanne Farrell, Yoko Ono and Lou Andreas-Salome are presented in a haphazard examination of the years they spent with the artists who found them to be inspirational. In some cases the reader is plopped into a muses life at the time of meeting her artist then suddenly taken back to her childhood, back to her artist, only to time travel to her death or divorce and finally back to her life with the artist. This style proved to be very uneven and perplexing. Thus, I rarely felt any connection to either the artist or his muse and their attributes were often one dimensional.This collection does, however, supply some interesting information on Charles Dodgson and Salvadore Dali, information which was new to me but maybe known to others.After, finally, completing The Lives of the Muses I realized why I began this book so many years ago and put it aside. For one, the writing is as dry as my skin in January. Secondly, in some cases, I simply can’t understand why these pairs were chosen when so little was accomplished by the artist during their moment with their muse. Either their best work was behind them or to come, in which case the muse was sometimes given credit.more
This is about 9 sets of modern artists and muses, beginning with Hester Thrale and Samuel Johnson and ending with Yoko Ono and John Lennon. Each relationship is different, but the common thread is that they are all dysfunctional. Many of them were romantic relationships in which one or both of the artist and muse were already married to someone else. Prose spends a lot of time trying to puzzle out whether Charles Dodgson was a pedophile and what exactly his relationship with Alice Liddell was about. The only slightly-normal relationship Prose examines is between Suzanne Farrell and George Balanchine. Although George wanted it to be sexual, Farrell refused; plus, they are they were, in a way, muses for each other but not competitors. I found all the stories to be tremendously interesting. Prose is a good writer, and she makes the relationships between the artists and muses come alive, despite the fact that they are so bizarre.more
This books serves as a fine introduction to the artist/muse concept, but Prose sacrifices a lot of page space to repetition, even though the ideas she explores would benefit from further investigation. Each section recycles ideas from earlier chapters, which would be helpful if she had taken her theories deeper each time, but instead she simply repeats herself... I feel like a strict editor could have been very helpful.more
A decent execution of a fantastic subject: the lives of women who figured into famous works of art. Of the nine biographical sketches, I preferred those that deal with the artists I know best: Ms. Thrale and Dr. Johnson is excellent, and perhaps the best is the sad case of Lewis Carrol and his Alice. A lot of the modern examples were out of my range and I hardly remember a thing about them.more
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