House of Names
From the thrilling imagination of bestselling, award-winning Colm T ib n comes a retelling of the story of Clytemnestra--a spectacularly audacious, violent, vengeful, lustful, and instantly compelling queen of Greek mythology--and her children.
"I have been acquainted with the smell of death." So begins Clytemnestra's tale of her own life in ancient Mycenae, the legendary Greek city from which her husband King Agamemnon left when he set sail with his army for Troy. Clytemnestra rules Mycenae now, along with her new lover Aegisthus, and together they plot the bloody murder of Agamemnon on the day of his return after nine years at war.
Judged, despised, cursed by gods she has long since lost faith in, Clytemnestra reveals the tragic saga that led to these bloody actions: how her husband deceived her eldest daughter Iphigeneia with a promise of marriage to Achilles, only to sacrifice her because that is what he was told would make the winds blow in his favor and take him to Troy; how she seduced and collaborated with the prisoner Aegisthus, who shared her bed in the dark and could kill; how Agamemnon came back with a lover himself; and how Clytemnestra finally achieved her vengeance for his stunning betrayal--his quest for victory, greater than his love for his child.
In House of Names, Colm T ib n brings a modern sensibility and language to an ancient classic, and gives this extraordinary character new life, so that we not only believe Clytemnestra's thirst for revenge, but applaud it. He brilliantly inhabits the mind of one of Greek myth's most powerful villains to reveal the love, lust, and pain she feels. Told in fours parts, this is a fiercely dramatic portrait of a murderess, who will herself be murdered by her own son, Orestes. It is Orestes' story, too: his capture by the forces of his mother's lover Aegisthus, his escape and his exile. And it is the story of the vengeful Electra, who watches over her mother and Aegisthus with cold anger and slow calculation, until, on the return of her brother, she has the fates of both of them in her hands.
Colm Toibin was born in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford in 1955. He studied at University College Dublin and lived in Barcelona before returning to Ireland in 1978, where he worked as a journalist. His other novels are: The Heather Blazing; The Story of the Night; The Blackwater Lightship; The Master; Brooklyn; and Nora Webster. His short story collections are Mothers and Sons and The Empty Family. He is a regular contributor to the Dublin Review, the New York Review of Books and the London Review of Books. He is currently Leonard Milberg Lecturer in Irish Letters at Princeton University.