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The Dark Labyrinth: A Novel

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  351 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
Who will survive the Labyrinth of Crete?

A group of English cruise-ship tourists debark to visit the isle of Crete’s famed labyrinth, the City in the Rock. The motley gathering includes a painter, a poet, a soldier, an elderly married couple, a medium, a convalescent girl, and the mysterious Lord Gracean. The group is prepared for a trifling day of sightseeing and maybe eve
ebook, 244 pages
Published June 12th 2012 by Open Road Media (first published January 1st 1947)
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Jan 08, 2015 Gregory rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating read with profound insights into the shortcomings of academia and archaeology. The opening scene (as I recall from reading 20 years ago- yet still seems vivid) is of an old archaeologist playing chess while casually explaining how he falsified a dig in order to lift his career and expose other archaeologists as frauds. The irony drips off the page as the retiring scholar explains how everyone will now rewrite the history of civilization because of his fraud... to prove his ...more
Aug 26, 2007 Clint rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the best book no one's ever heard of. It's really had to find, and I can't understand why, because Lawrence Durrell's a pretty popular author. This was the first book I read by him and still my favorite, about a group of people who get separated from each other exploring these caves in Greece, and what happens to all of them, inside and out. Really creative, and I don't think he ever got this good again.
Isabel (kittiwake)
When a group of first class passengers on a cruise disembark at Crete for a guided tour of a labyrinthine cave system at Cefalu, they are trapped by a rock-fall, with only Lord Graecan being on the right side of the rocks to make his way back out and raise the alarm. The back stories of the passengers (many of whom already knew each other) and how each of them reacts when facing death in the labyrinth, make for a fascinating story.

There are sub-plots about the mysterious Axelos, who lives in a h
Mar 13, 2016 Alexandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
You know that thing where because you read so much of one genre, you keep expecting non-genre books to follow the same conventions?


I know the Durrell family from having read My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell at school, and then reading several more of his memoirs off my own bat. It's quite funny to realise that the moody older brother Gerald remembers turned into, apparently, quite a well-known author.

I think I took this off my parents' bookshelves many years ago and I've never
Mar 11, 2008 Yn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read this book multiple times. It's one of my favorite of all times. Every character in this novel has finds their own version of salvation, only to find it's also their own hell. Some survive, some don't.

"Be specific. Be very specific." --The Safety of Objects
Simon Mcleish
Feb 25, 2013 Simon Mcleish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in October 2005.

In all of Lawrence Durrell's novels, the author combines an apparently realistic story with psychological and spiritual allegroy, so that nothing necessarily means what it appears to signify on the surface. (I wouldn't class them as fully allegorical, because I can't come up with a meaning beyond the surface one for some aspects of each novel.) In The Dark Labyrinth, his first novel, the scaffolding which makes this structure work is much more
Oct 02, 2008 Stenwjohnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'The Dark Labyrinth' (1947) is Lawrence Durrell's fourth novel and his first after the early masterpiece 'The Black Book' (1938). Originally published as 'Cefalu' in the UK, it was republished in the US under an alternate title to capitalize on the success of 'The Alexandria Quartet.'

'The Dark Labyrinth' finds Durrell attempting a more conventional style after the experimental prose poetry of 'Black Book,' an approach reintroduced in more measured fashion with 'Justine' in 1957. 'The Dark Labyri
Jan 07, 2015 izza rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The most striking thing about this book is its subtly profound language. Although the plot is not as exciting as it could have been (which isn't really disappointing considering it is not an action novel), it is truly the mind-twisting way in which Lawrence Durrell writes that makes this read an extraordinary one. It follows the stories of a group of English people -- all in different stages of life and self-understanding -- who enter a "dark labyrinth" (as the title so gingerly implies) and eit ...more
Lugesin reisil ka oma teise Lawrence Durrelli raamatu. See oli selline pisut nõutuksvõttev, aga otsustasin jääda selle juurde, et on mõjuv portree ajastust ja ühest või paarist tollasest inimtüübist ning mitte hakata liigselt pead vaevama, kas see inimtüüp mulle ka meeldib. Labürint ise kahtlemata küll, pime ja põnev, sees ja väljas.
Feb 15, 2012 Mathilda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A captivating Mediterranean novel,full of atmosphere and the vivid first-hand experience is the description about the landscape and people of which Durrell was a master. It is set on Crete just after WW2, 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 a lot of eccentric people each on his or her own mission. To some extent the book is half mystery/suspense romantic and a psycholo ...more
Jun 28, 2016 Sally is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
The whole of the first chapter was entirely spent on describing the people involved, including one whose voice was likened to a volcano, and described as like a monomaniac... I'm not sure I have the stamina for the rest of this one, however keen I might be to see what the scenario around the labyrinth might be.
Apr 14, 2014 Debby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Durrell is one of my fav authors and I love to read his books when I travel to his locations. This is one of his most accessible books but still retains that sort of magical allegorical quality. Wonderful!
Bob Rust
Jul 13, 2016 Bob Rust rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Dark Labyrinth is a Near Future tale set Underground in a Cretan Labyrinth, where emanations out of the Minoan Time Abyss afflict the protagonists.
Enjoyed this book (except for the penultimate chapter)
Jan 29, 2010 Andreea rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Finally, I finished!!! Maybe it was me, but this is one of the hardest to finish... I had no desire to read it...I find characters, although described in detail and some deeply analyzed, false, lifeless, like puppets moving around in the hand of various puppet masters. The end was somehow saving the book, but...really why do you need 200 pages for 50 beautiful ones? Mythology? There is only a tint of it...and not even really used, or analyzed, just some pretext, as if the action is in Greece the ...more
Edward Butler
Jul 30, 2011 Edward Butler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Proclus said that "It is customary for theologians to put Crete in the place of the Intelligible," (In Tim. I, 118); so too Durrell. A jewel of a novel, a petite masterwork of high modernism. It's as though Agatha Christie wrote an alchemical text.
Jun 29, 2014 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've reread this and appreciate now much more the subtlety of Durrell's characterisation which transforms a potential Cretan version of the 'Poseidon Adventure' into an intricately crafted social commentary with beautiful description and observation
Oct 20, 2015 Val rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superbly written story about a disparate group of visitors to Crete and its ancient labyrinth. It draws on the history and legends of the island and on Durrell's own time living there. The labyrinth is not only physical.
Gail Johnson
Jul 05, 2015 Gail Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book from cover to cover in one day. It contained just about every element you want in a good story as well as making you think about the meaning of life. It would make an excellent movie.
Jun 27, 2012 Bogdan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asian-flavor
I liked most the mythical land found by the main character after passing through the labyrinth. We all would like to found such a place sometimes in our lives.
My copy of this book is in romanian.
Jun 04, 2011 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Durrell writes an intriguing story set during WWII as some tourists get trapped on the isle of Crete. Their labyrinth becomes the plot of the story. Enjoyable read.
Dec 10, 2008 Litlove rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unusual but beautifully written, I didn't really get into this book until the last third. But that part was stunning. I'll certainly read more Durrell.
Stephen Hawks
May 04, 2008 Stephen Hawks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of Durrell's early books. It is good story telling.
Gabi Coatsworth
Present from John
Rémy marked it as to-read
Jul 20, 2016
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Cath Stark rated it really liked it
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Lawrence George Durrell was a critically hailed and beloved novelist, poet, humorist, and travel writer best known for The Alexandria Quartet novels, which were ranked by the Modern Library as among the greatest works of English literature in the twentieth century. A passionate and dedicated writer from an early age, Durrell’s prolific career also included the groundbreaking Avignon Quintet, whose ...more
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