A Jungian approach to poetry
Jung deals specifically with literature in the following essays: “The Type Problem in Poetry” “The Phenomenology of the Spirit in Fairytales,” “On the Relation of Analytical Psychology to Poetry,” and “Psychology and Literature.” What ties Jung’s discussion of literature to psychology is the symbol. The inexplicable part of the symbol is, according to Jung, a manifestation of certain “inherited” structural elements of the human psyche. These elements or archetypes are revealed in dreams, visions, or fantasies and are analogous to the figures one finds in mythology, sagas, and fairytales.
In “Psychology and Literature,” Jung mentions those “visionary artists” who seem to allow us “a glimpse into the unfathomed abyss of what has not yet become.” Beyond Jung’s specific focus on symbol as revealed in literature as a basis for certain hypotheses and finally for an entire depth psychology that may be applied in turn to literature itself, Jung’s study of the nature of symbol gives him an especially perceptive understanding of the nature of literature. Jung has no concern for the specific form, the presentation of symbols in literature; it is not possible to distinguish the symbolic processes of the poet from those of anyone else. The symbolic richness of a work as illuminated by the Jungian approach, therefore, does not itself make the work successful. A Jungian methodology, however, can be said to reinforce the notion of a symbolic unity of a work in the sense that it can make explicit certain image-patterns that may be obscure.
The Freudian attacks on Jung’s view of art are strident and somewhat muddled. Frederick...
(The entire section is 683 words.)