The maze of Labirinto in The Innamorati (and reappearing in Zizola's story) is a work of alchemy and fantastic art. It has an organic nature, the twisting pathways lined with walls of densely packed trees. From the outside, it appears solid, immutable. But once inside, it expands and contracts, and once on the path, one is confronted by a constantly shifting architecture. The walls change from yew to cedar, to hedges of roses, or cypress; the path breaks opens unexpectedly to small fields, or rose gardens, or fountains that smell of the ocean. And the path is different for each person who enters the maze. The pilgrim is never sure who he or she will meet in the maze because it is full of creatures, lost souls, and even longer-lost lovers, daemons, talking heads ( I realized just now how many talking heads I had in the novel!), drenched sirens, and automatons: all of it a dream-reflection of the pilgrim's world outside. This is not a solitary journey through the turns, but a lively, populated internal landscape that must be entertained, confronted, and negotiated. Reaching the center matters to the intrepid pilgrim; but reaching the exit alive which often lies elsewhere, matters even more.
The work above is by the great Surrealist painter Leonora Carrington and is one of my favorites -- when writing The Innamorati, it was this mystical image of a maze teeming with ghostly life that most inspired me as I thought about the maze, the centerpiece and setting of the novel. And working on the sequel, I return to it as a reference. And here is another painting I love because the feminine figures have almost the same silhouette of a Renaissance woman in her headdress, but here they appears as fantastic, slightly amused reflections in a noblewoman's mirror.
Ran across this interesting note on "Samain:"
Art critque Teresa Arq says about the work: "In the painting, we see two main figures, one in white and the other in black, separated by a small wall upon which a black and a white bird are perched. They allude to the encounter between life and death or light and darkness. A group of figures in white grip white ropes that are attached to a kind of transparent cocoon, inside of which one can make out a strange figure undergoing a transformation. Repetition is an important element of magic rituals."