The Lives of the Muses: Nine Women and the Artists They Inspired

The Lives of the Muses: Nine Women and the Artists They Inspired

by Francine Prose

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061748509
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/17/2009
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 952,128
File size: 507 KB

About the Author

Francine Prose is the author of twenty-one works of fiction, including Mister Monkey; the New York Times bestseller Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932; A Changed Man, which won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize; and Blue Angel, a finalist for the National Book Award. Her works of nonfiction include Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife, and the New York Times bestseller Reading Like a Writer. The recipient of numerous grants and honors, including a Guggenheim, a Fulbright, and a Director’s Fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, she is a former president of PEN American Center and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She lives in New York City.


New York, New York

Date of Birth:

April 1, 1947

Place of Birth:

Brooklyn, New York


B.A., Radcliffe College, 1968

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Lives of the Muses: Nine Women and the Artists They Inspired 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
CynthiaSueLarson More than 1 year ago
THE LIVES OF THE MUSES examines how eight women (Hester Thrale, Elizabeth Siddal, Lou Andreas-Salome, Gala Dali, Lee Miller, Charis Weston, Suzanne Farrell, and Yoko Ono) and one little girl (Alice Liddell) provided essential inspiration to their artist companions. While artistic inspiration can come from many sources (music, fasting, prayer, meditation, romantic love), Francine Prose's book examines the romantic kind of artistic inspiration which arises between men and women -- with men typically playing the role of artist to the woman's role of muse. And who, exactly, is a muse? Francine Prose writes, "The muse is often that person with whom the artist has the animated imaginary conversations, the interior dialogues we all conduct, most commonly with someone we cannot get out of our minds." Francine Prose delves into some of the most intimate details of the muses' and artists' sexual lives, yet never loses touch with the vision of her book as a guidepost to better understanding the art of being a muse. While muses are chosen by artists, and therefore seemingly have no ability to chart muse-dom as a career path for themselves, they appear to share certain qualities with one another. For one thing, many muses have been intensely disliked by their contemporaries -- perhaps because people can intuitively sense that there is an unusually strong bond of love between an artist and his muse. If the subject of this book at times makes one feel uncomfortable, that is no doubt due to the fact that the interaction between artists and muses take people to the very greatest emotional heights and depths. The passions felt between artists and their muses are so tremendous that they sometimes provoke people's behavior to go completely out-of-control... yet these same passions present artists with some of their greatest sources of inspiration. Francine Prose's extraordinary book, THE LIVES OF THE MUSES, shows us a unique vision of how artists' lives are shaped and driven by the love and inspiration of their muses. It is the gift of the muse to offer her artist "that rare and precious spark ignited by genius and passion."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a fun and juicy way to get a bit of a history lesson. Well written and quite enjoyable to read.
rmariem on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
Carmenere on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
carlym on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
Niecierpek on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hester Thrale and Samuel Johnson, Alice Liddell and Lewis Carroll, Elizabeth Siddal and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Andreas-Salome and Nietzsche, Rilke and Freud, Gala Dali and Salvador Dali, Lee Miller and Man Ray, Charis Weston and Edward Weston, Suzanne Farrell and Balanchine, Yoko Ono and John Lennon: some of these arrangements were really strange, but they all worked to the benefit of art and intellect. Even though a little bit repetitive in places, this book had enough bite to be interesting.
aaronbaron on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago