Minos and the Moderns: Cretan Myth in Twentieth-Century Art and Literature

Hardcover | July 17, 2008

byTheodore Ziolkowski

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Minos and the Moderns considers three mythological complexes that enjoyed a unique surge of interest in early twentieth-century European art and literature: Europa and the bull, the minotaur and the labyrinth, and Daedalus and Icarus. All three are situated on the island of Crete and arelinked by the figure of King Minos. Drawing examples from fiction, poetry, drama, painting, sculpture, opera, and ballet, Minos and the Moderns is the first book of its kind to treat the role of the Cretan myths in the modern imagination. Beginning with the resurgence of Crete in the modern consciousness in 1900 following the excavations of Sir Arthur Evans, Theodore Ziolkowski shows how the tale of Europa-in poetry, drama, and art, but also in cartoons, advertising, and currency-was initially seized upon as a story of sexualawakening, then as a vehicle for social and political satire, and finally as a symbol of European unity. In contast, the minotaur provided artists ranging from Picasso to Durrenmatt with an image of the artist's sense of alienation, while the labyrinth suggested to many writers the threateningsociopolitical world of the twentieth century. Ziolkowski also considers the roles of such modern figures as Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud; of travelers to Greece and Crete from Isadora Duncan to Henry Miller; and of the theorists and writers, including T. S. Eliot and Thomas Mann, who hailed the useof myth in modern literature. Minos and the Moderns concludes with a summary of the manners in which the economic, aesthetic, psychological, and anthropological revisions enabled precisely these myths to be taken up as a mirror of modern consciousness. The book will appeal to all readers interested in the classical tradition andits continuing relevance and especially to scholars of Classics and modern literatures.

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Minos and the Moderns considers three mythological complexes that enjoyed a unique surge of interest in early twentieth-century European art and literature: Europa and the bull, the minotaur and the labyrinth, and Daedalus and Icarus. All three are situated on the island of Crete and arelinked by the figure of King Minos. Drawing examp...

Theodore Ziolkowski is Class of 1900 Professor of German and Comparative Literature, Emeritus, at Princeton University. He is the author of Virgil and the Moderns and Ovid and the Moderns, as well as The Sin of Knowledge, German Romanticism and Its Institutions, Modes of Faith: Secular Surrogates for Lost Religious Belief, and The Mir...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:208 pages, 5.79 × 8.5 × 0.98 inPublished:July 17, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195336917

ISBN - 13:9780195336917

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"Ziolkowski covers a remarkable amount of material, from plays and poetry to art and music, from writers and artists as well known as Picasso, Gide, and Auden to those barely known even to specialists. This breadth makes a compelling case for the argument that the Cretan myths hold a specialplace in modernist culture. Ziolkowski's presentation is also very readable. Each chapter is organized around one or two interpretive patterns which give the material an argumentative thrust, with the detailed treatment of each work in turn dependent on the overarching interpretive pattern."-Craig Kallendorf, Texas AandM University