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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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The Minotaur: The Beast Within and the Threat Outside

The Minotaur: The Beast Within and the Threat Outside

(p.67) 3 The Minotaur: The Beast Within and the Threat Outside
Minos and the Moderns

Theodore Ziolkowski

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers how the minotaur emerged during the 1930s as an image of the artist's sense of alienation, while the labyrinth suggested to many writers the hostile sociopolitical world of the twentieth century. The popularity of the image suggested the name Minotaure for a major avant-garde cultural journal of the decade—to which Pablo Picasso, long obsessed with the minotaur as a symbol of the artist-outsider and sexual violence, contributed the first cover illustration. Among the many writers attracted by the theme, the artist and dramatist Friedrich Dürrenmatt used the minotaur throughout his career as an image of human alienation, while many writers of the 1940s and 1950s focused on the labyrinth as an image of a dark chaotic world and of emerging totalitarianism.

Keywords:   alienation, labyrinth, minotaur, sexual violence, social chaos, totalitarianism, Picasso, Minotaure

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