STORY FOR ICARUS by Ernst Schnable


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Although this book may have a certain vogue among the literati, less sophisticated readers will face it with a somewhat angry bafflement. It purports to be the life-story of the Greek engineer Daedalus, as he writes it to his dead son, Icarus, who fell into the sea at the age of ten while trying to fly with wings his father built. In chronological order Daedalus tells of his youth in Greece , his service to the Egyptian Pharoah, and his career in Crete at the court of King Minos. Here he built a strange, labyrinthine palace at Cnossos and observed the events famous in Greek mythology that climaxed in the killing of the Minotaur (here a monster son of Minos) by Theseus, and Theseus' elopment with Minos' daughter, Ariadne. Somewhere in the book someone says, ""The very second one understands something, one has already half lost it"", and this characterizes the book itself, which projects a completely relativistic universe, in which events and even objects are what the observer thinks they are; and things choose while people drift. The style even in translation is somewhat incongruous--Germanic and archaic in the main. It startles by an occasional phrase such as ""he was no great shakes as a writer"". Perhaps it is symbolically appropriate that a book dealing with Daedalus should be itself a labyrinth, but it is a labyrinth which only the philosophically minded will intensively investigate.

Pub Date: Jan. 25th, 1960
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace