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The Conversations with... series approaches figures from the past in a new way: by inviting us to listen to them. The interview format is used, as each participant explains themselves, and we sit gripped, because although the questions are imagined, their words are not. These are their own words, thoughts and feelings taken from their writings, and it’s such authenticity of voice that makes this a unique experience.

We’re familiar with biographies which tell us about someone, but here we meet the people for ourselves, reflect on their words and draw our own conclusions. The project might be subtitled, ‘In the psychiatrist’s chair’, as each reveals, knowingly or unknowingly, what it’s like to live inside their skin, with their faultlines quite as apparent as their genius.

On completing the interviews, Simon Parke’s comment was this: ‘I feel I know them better than I know myself.’

 
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The Orpheus Motif in North America: The Comanche tradition – To give the reader a general idea of the form taken by the Orpheus tradition in North America, I reproduce the version of the Comanche Indians, here published for the first time. It was communicated to me orally by the late Dr Ralph Linton, who noted it down in the course of his field-studies among the Comanche (1933). Particular interest attaches to the Comanche narrative, for it is the first recorded Orpheus tradition from the more easterly Shoshonean groups. No account is given of it in Wallace and Hoebel’s Comanche monograph, which is otherwise a valuable source for the religion and folklore of this tribe. Read here
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