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The Meaning of the Title

March 29, 2017

Some people have asked how I came to choose the title Journey to Colonus for my American novel. This is a good question because it allows me to address something fundamental to its structure.

Nearly everyone has heard of Oedipus Rex, Sophocles’ play and his protagonist who is fated by the gods to kill his father and have children with his mother. Sigmund Freud made the name more famous by borrowing it to describe a morbid sexual fixation, the “oedipal complex.”

My protagonist has nothing to do with the fixation nor the ancient king’s peculiar family problems but he is otherwise a modern Oedipus the King. Like the ancient king who goes into exile, and which Sophocles tells about in his later play Oedipus at Colonus, my modern Oedipus, with the realization of his crimes, goes into exile in a town of the same name. His crimes are many, some more serious than others, and one like the ancient king’s is taboo, unspeakable – therefore not hinted here – and only discoverable at the novel’s end.

Both the ancient king and Thomas Doswell suffer from profound guilt which both fully confront. This is the backstory of Journey to Colonus: the past which few in their lives have the courage to face but which my king-like hero, like the ancient pagan king, does.

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