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Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism


In the spring of 1900, British archaeologist Arthur Evans began to excavate the palace of Knossos on Crete, bringing ancient Greek legends to life just as a new century dawned amid far-reaching questions about human history, art, and culture. With "Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism," Cathy Gere relates the fascinating story of Evans's excavation and its long-term effects on Western culture. After the World War I left the Enlightenment dream in tatters, the lost paradise that Evans offered in the concrete labyrinth--pacifist and matriarchal, pagan and cosmic--seemed to offer a new way forward for writers, artists, and thinkers such as Sigmund Freud, James Joyce, Giorgio de Chirico, Robert Graves, and Hilda Doolittle.

Assembling a brilliant, talented, and eccentric cast at a moment of tremendous intellectual vitality and wrenching change, Cathy Gere paints an unforgettable portrait of the age of concrete and the birth of modernism.

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About the Author

Cathy Gere is associate professor of history at the University of California, San Diego, and the author of The Tomb of Agamemnon.


"A stylish and original cultural history of Knossos." (Economist) "Fascinating and consistently entertaining.... It is a tribute to the wit and clarity of Gere's style that she is able to explain all this without making the reader's brain ache." (Times Literary Supplement) "Cathy Gere re-creates a century of bizarre misreadings of the nearly unknown ancient culture of Crete, and in doing so has produced that rarest of literary surprises: a genuinely hilarious work of Minoan historiography." (Benjamin Moser, Harper's) "Gere attempts to understand the archaeologists, architects, artists, classicists, writers, and poets who reconstructed Minoan Crete in our time. And she does so brilliantly." (Library Journal) "The implications of this fascinating book extend far beyond the island that is its focus." (Science) "A brilliant study of the role of Knossos in twentieth-century culture.... Gere writes with clarity and wit, but she never sacrifices the fascinating complexity of her tale to a simple story line." (New York Review of Books)"

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