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Minos and the ModernsCretan Myth in Twentieth-Century Literature and Art$
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Theodore Ziolkowski

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195336917

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195336917.001.0001

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Introduction: The Modernization of Myth

Introduction: The Modernization of Myth

(p.3) 1 Introduction: The Modernization of Myth
Minos and the Moderns

Theodore Ziolkowski

Oxford University Press

The introduction analyzes the resurgence of interest in Minoan civilization—its history and its myths—in the modern consciousness following the spectacular publicity in 1900 surrounding the excavations at Knossos of Sir Arthur Evans. It goes on to survey the role in this resurgence of such precursors in the modernization of myth as Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud. It reviews the influence of writers including T. S. Eliot and Thomas Mann, who hailed the use of myth in modern literature and explains the distinction between primary and secondary myth. It suggests that fears of social chaos preceding and following World War I generated an urgent search for principles of order, which were fulfilled for many writers and artists by the striking and newly rediscovered Cretan myths.

Keywords:   Minoan civilization, Sir Arthur Evans, Knossos, precursors of modernism, modernization of myth, secondary myth, search for order

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