A Jungian Approach to Literature

A Jungian Approach to Literature

A Jungian Approach to Literature

A Jungian Approach to Literature


This book is the first to apply systematically Jungian psychology to the study of literature throughout the ages. The ten essays are purposefully different, illustrating the universality of Jungian archetypal analysis and criticism.

The book has been divided into seven sections: the first five follow chronological order from Euripides to Goethe and finally Yeats; the sixth and seventh are presented separately because they explore unique psychological experiences. Each essay is divided into two parts: an ectypal and an archetypal analysis of the works discussed. The ectypal section presents a brief historical summary of the period, acquainting readers with appropriate facts concerning the author's environment. The archetypal analysis, however, is the most important aspect of A Jungian Approach to Literature.

Archetypes, contained in the collective unconscious, exist at the deepest level within the subliminal realm. They are "made manifest in archetypal (primordial) images: experienced in such universal motifs as the Great Mother, the Spiritual Father, Transformation, the Self, and others." The Jungian archetypal approach to literature acts as a broadening force in the life experience.


There are many different approaches to the teaching and study of literature. These include linguistic, psychological, historical, structuralist, semiotic, hermeneutic, heuristic, and so forth. Each method is valid for the one who finds that it answers an intellectual and emotional need; each is meaningful if it deepens the understanding of the works under scrutiny and broadens the horizons of the scholar, critic, and reader. Whatever the approach, it should act as a catalyst; stimulating and exciting those involved in the pursuit of knowledge and encouraging them to develop their own potential. Criticism, in this manner, becomes a creative act. It turns what could be an intellectual exercise or tour de force remaining within the confines of the mind, into praxis, thereby acting as a broadening force in the life experience.

Carl Gustav Jung sought to "engage the response of the whole man" in the psychoanalytic process, not merely the intellectual nor solely the sexual. To this end he studied myths and legends, cultural manifestations of all kinds in both a personal and universal frame of reference. This exploration gave him insights into primordial images, archetypes of the collective unconscious. Drawing parallels between the workings of the individual unconscious, shown in images produced in the dreams of his patients, with the universal recurrent eternal motifs found in religions and works of art, Jung thereby enlarged the scope of psychotherapy. It became not only a curative agent that relates to "the whole history and evolution of the human psyche in all of its manifestations" but also a technique that could help develop the potential of well-adjusted normal and superior human beings.

A Jungian Approach to Literature is a direct outgrowth of . . .

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