Tóibín’s Greek mythmaking puts his mastery on show
Fiction: House of Names, By Colm Tóibín, Penguin Viking, €17.25
Myths, as the philosopher John Gray reminds us, are not the same as fantasies. Where fantasies console (think of the festival of happy endings that concludes The Lord of the Rings), myths encode harsh knowledge about the truth of our condition. The Greek myths – particularly those that tell the stories of doomed families – have proved lastingly attractive to artists who are interested in uncovering this harsh knowledge; who are dedicated, in other words, to pursuing higher forms of consolation.
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