For 2009's Proms Literary Festival, author Philip Pullman talks to Susan Hitch about the legend of Orpheus, explaining why myth matters for fiction.
In front of an audience at the Proms Literary Festival, Susan Hitch is joined by award-winning writer Philip Pullman to discuss the powerful legend of Orpheus, exploring the influence of myth as a subject for fiction.
The classical tale of Orpheus has influenced musicians and writers from Igor Stravinsky to John Milton to Nick Cave. Orpheus, whose lyre and songs could charm even Hades, king of the underworld, journeys into the kingdom of the dead to plead for the release of his wife Eurydice. Succeeding where all others have failed, he is offered a deal. He can take his wife with him, but only if he makes his return journey without turning to look at her as she walks behind him back into the land of the living. Where his heroism and charm have succeeded, his human flaw of curiosity proves his undoing.