Psyche's Labyrinth, 1919–1941

in Knossos & the Prophets of Modernism

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780226289533
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226289557 | DOI:
Psyche's Labyrinth, 1919–1941

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This chapter concentrates on the interwar period, looking at Arthur Evans's work in relation to modernist art, literature, and psychoanalysis, taking as its central motif his reconstruction of the cult of the butterfly soul. In the immediate aftermath of the Great War, ancient Crete was recreated in the image of a decadent civilization devoured by its own weakness. By the time the bombs were raining down on London, Crete had become the archetype of a lost pacifist paradise. Sigmund Freud's prophetic 1939 meditation on the roots of anti-Semitism is considered. Evans's excavations at Knossos made their first mark on Hilda Doolittle's work. Doolittle's archaeological literalism invoked an even more esoteric range of archetypes and essences. By declaring that Knossos showed the truth in myth, Evans emphasized yet again the fairytale quality of his legacy.

Keywords: Arthur Evans; modernist art; literature; psychoanalysis; Great War; Crete; Sigmund Freud; Knossos; Hilda Doolittle

Chapter.  14041 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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