The Kraken and the Minotaur


Octopus-themed Minoan artefacts

I’ve just come back from co-leading a Book Club holiday near Oxford with HF Holidays. It was hard work but rewarding. The book I chose - and about which I led discussions - was Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, which I wrote about in a previous blog. I chose it for its many references to Narnia and the ideas of  CS Lewis and Owen Barfield, two of Oxford’s famous Inklings. 

Piranesi Book front cover

But there were also some connections that were sheer serendipity. For one, the country house hotel we were using (Harrington House in Bourton-on-the-Water) had this statue of a faun in its garden.

Faun statue

And even better, the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford were holding a temporary exhibition on the subject of the Labyrinth.

I found the exhibition fascinating and inspiring. I could have got tons more discussion points for Piranesi out of it, especially the similarities between Valentine Ketterley in the book and Sir Arthur Evans, who took over the dig on Crete in true colonial fashion and projected his own interpretations onto it.

I was also very interested in a number of artworks (including one by Pablo Picasso) portraying the artist as the Minotaur, or perhaps the Minotaur as the shadow side of the hero Theseus, who comes to kill him. Obviously, considering my obsession with Our Flag Means Death, it was impossible not to associate this with Ed saying, “I am the Kraken,” and the notion of seeing yourself as a monster. (Quite possibly trapped as a monster, like the Minotaur in the Labyrinth).

So imagine my excitement when I rounded a corner to find a whole display of Minoan artefacts from Crete - the supposed site of the Labyrinth - that were all octopus themed. There was the Kraken - in the Labyrinth!

My imagination went into overdrive! I had to write a little fanfic (a flash fiction) about Ed as the Kraken in the Labyrinth. I’ve put it on Fanfiction for anyone who wants to read it. “Enjoy” probably isn’t quite the right word here. Read it and weep!


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