Sunday, December 05, 2010

Book #46

There are hints throughout Davies' novel Fifth Business that he's into analytical psychology, and Jung in particular: the symbolism of the stone, the anima, the shadow, the magus, the puer aeternus, and the recurring synchronicities of the plot made that pretty obvious. And yet Fifth Business is not a Jungian novel the way its sequel The Manticore is. This is literally a Jungian novel.

Boy Staunton dies spectacularly at the end of Fifth Business--it's not really a spoiler, since this information is given away on the cover of the book, and early in the novel. In this volume Boy's son Davey has grown into a successful barrister, but also a repressed and celibate alcoholic. Desperate for he knows not what, and in crisis following his dad's death, Davey takes refuge in a Jungian anaylist's office in Switzerland. Like the first novel, The Manticore is a sort of confessional; in the first we had Dunstan Ramsey's long confession to his boss, and here we get Davey's analysand journals, with bits of dialogue from his analysis.

Although there is the occasional whiff of Joe Campbell's Jung Lite near the end of the book, it is an excellent voyage through many of the Swiss Shaman's ideas. The cast of characters spring from a Tarot deck, the plot is pure night journey a la Dante, and there are clever symbols for the Persona and other autonomous un-integrated chunks of the Self.

If none of this interests you, you'll likely find The Manticore more boring than church. But if you like dreams and symbols and the archaeology of the Self, you should read Davies' book. I'm eager for the third and final installment, which I'll begin this evening.

I'm desperately trying to reach that 50th book before the end of the year...

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