This captivating novel is set on Crete just after the War, as an odd assortment of English travellers come ashore from a cruise ship to explore the island and in particular to examine a dangerous local labyrinth.
They include an extrovert painter, a spiritualist, a Protestant spinster with a fox terrier, an antiquarian peer and minor poet, a soldier with guilty memories of the Cretan resistance, a pretty convalescent, and an eccentric married couple.
To some extent the book is a roman à clef and Durrell's characters talk with great reality about their experiences, themselves, and a certain psychological unease that has led most of them to embark on their journey. The climax is a disastrous visit to the labyrinth, with its reported minotaur.
The novel is a gripping piece of storytelling, full of atmosphere and the vivid first-hand writing, about Mediterranean landscape and people, of which Lawrence Durrell was a master.
©1947 Lawrence Durrell (P) 2013 AudioGO Ltd
I like this novel, a little re-mythologising of the minotaur and labyrinth. it made me think of Wilder's Bridge of San Luis Rey, a group of people have something extraordinary happen and we see them try to explain elements of it. the story back tracks a little at the beginning and gives you some back ground on the characters involved then returns to the incident. I like what Durrell does with the mythic aspects, not overlaying them heavily, but thematically he writes a couple times how we need to make our own myths. I'm currently reading Delany's Dhalgren and i found this theme to add much to that novel as well. more to return to in this one. several nice passages here like the one i quoted for Black Book.
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