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July 31 , 2007

The Dark Labyrinth


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.

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A collection of works spanning the entire career of great 20th-century American writer Henry Miller, edited and introduced by Lawrence Durrell. In 1958, when Henry Miller was elected to membership in the American Institute of Arts and Letters, the citation described him as: "The veteran author of many books whose originality and richness of…

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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