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The Dark Labyrinth

The Dark Labyrinth

Author(s): Lawrence Durrell

Location(s): Crete

Genre(s): Fiction

Era(s): Mid 20th Century

Location

Content

This captivating Mediterranean novel was written by Lawrence Durrell immediately after finishing his exquisite vignette about Corfu, Prospero’s Cell, and a decade before Justine. The story 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 story-telling, full of atmosphere and the vivid first-hand writing about Mediterranean landscape and people of which Durrell was a master.

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Lead Review

The novel, the Dark Labyrinth, has the beautiful scenery of Crete to serve as a wonderful backdrop to this book and it is clear the author must have been inspired by ancient Greek legends about...

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