Lillian is a jazz musician who travels to Mexico to play at a resort hotel for 3 months. While there she makes a few friends, including sad, thoughtful Dr. Hernandez. That is the plot, little else. The focus of the book is not on plot but on Lillian's internal dialogue during her stay. Seduction of the Minotaur truly understands and presents a particular woman's psyche.
Anais Nin is not interested in the reader being a spectator to her characters' actions, but instead a participant. We are literally inside Lillian. We feel what she thinks, we experience what she experiences, in a way that is distinctly and strikingly female. The language is like the smoke from a purposely elegant cigarette. It has scent, it has shape both sensual and changeable, it escapes from our grasp but lingers nonetheless.
The book enthralls with its first sentence, “Some voyages have their inception in the blueprint of a dream, some in the urgency of contradicting a dream.” On the next page Anais Nin engages our sense of hearing, touch, smell, sight, and speaking, all done in one paragraph. “The guitars and the singing opened fire. Her skin blossomed and breathed. A heavy wave of perfume came down…and a fine spray of waves…On the beach the natives sang love songs which cradled and rocked the body as did the hammocks.”
Anais Nin is a first-rate, poetic writer. Her skill of stealing our intimate thoughts and eliciting a series of “Exactly! How did you know?” moments from the reader is astonishing. The weaknesses are these: all the characters sound the same. Thoughts that make sense as thoughts sound long-winded and unrealistic when said out loud by the characters. The protagonist Lillian has too much of the poor me, endless self-analysis of today's talk shows, as if every small action by others in the past, particularly Mother, created a crisis of identity in the adult Lillian. If so, we would all be afraid to speak at all or leave the house for fear an action of ours, even one of saving another person, would send them to therapy for years. Interestingly though, Nin's constant use of exact phrasing like “roads and bridges” gives evolving impressions from moderate respect to eventually making adult activities like work seem somewhat ridiculous.
Refreshingly, the main female character is not a caricature. Seduction of the Minotaur is made for the dreamer who searches for richness of mind, the languidness of gentle summer water and "first-hand" tactile experience of life.
This report prepared by L. Frizzell