Saturday, September 17, 2016

Barely Audible Intimations of His Own Murder

In 1929 the writer Evelyn Waugh came to Crete on a cruise "to admire the barbarities of Minoan culture". In the Herakleion Museum "except for one or two examples of animal sculpture", he wrote, "I found nothing to suggest any genuine aesthetic feeling at all". On the merits of Minoan painting he was perspicaciously uncertain, "since only a few square inches of the vast area exposed to our consideration are earlier than the last 20 years". In the restorations, he detects "a somewhat inappropriate predilection for covers of Vogue". At Knossos, he continues, "I do not think that it can only be imagination and the recollection of a bloodthirsty mythology which makes something fearful and malignant of the cramped galleries and stunted alleys...these rooms that are mere blind passages at the end of sunless staircases". As for the throne "here an aging despot might crouch and have borne to him, along the walls of a whispering gallery, barely audible intimations of his own murder" (Waugh 1930: 136-7).
- Gerald Cadogan, 'The Minoan Distance': The impact of Knossos upon the twentieth century (2004)