The King Within

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The authors of THE KING WITHIN offer readers, particularly male readers, a different kind of self-help book. Beginning with the premise that men are programmed genetically to act out male roles they conveniently title King, Warrior, Magician, and Lover, the authors focus on the first of these as the most important unconscious psychological phenomenon that determines men’s conscious behavior. All men have locked inside them the desire to be both provider and protector, and to perpetuate themselves through their children and their contributions in society.

Relying extensively on the techniques of Jungian psychology and on scholarship in diverse areas such as cultural anthropology, literature, and brain research, Moore and Gillette range across various cultures and historical periods to trace the images of what they call the archetypal king through civilizations whose apparent differences simply mask the common traits that men in all times and all cultures share. When men learn to recognize the qualities of kingship inherent in every male, they can then use this tremendous power to enact change in the world by becoming leaders in their families, their communities, their nations, or the world. In their final chapter, the authors provide specific techniques men can use to get in touch with the King within them and to transform their own lives.

In one sense, the book can be seen as a reaction against radical feminist writings that attack traditional ideas of masculinity. Moore and Gillette posit that when properly understood, masculinity is a necessary and healthful component of the human psyche, both individually and collectively. Though given to metaphoric descriptions that may be misinterpreted by some readers, the authors are consistent in their focus on displaying the positive side of what it means, and what it has traditionally meant, to be male.