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Orson Welles: The Stories of His Life-Peter Conrad

By personifying the imagination as a woman, the romantics placed it beyond rational control. The muse became cruel, destructive mistress, like Keat’s ‘belle dame sans merci’ or Baudelaire’s Venus attached to her prey, or like Flaubert’s lustful Salmmbo, the subject of the opera Kane commissions for Susan. In 1948, the year The Lady from Shanghai was released, Robert Graves published the White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth,  in which he insisted that ‘the function of poetry is religious invocation of the Muse’ whose presence excites a ‘mixed exaltation and horror’. (216)

 

 

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