THE RETURN OF KING ARTHUR: Finishing the Quest for Wholeness, Inner Strength, and Self-Knowledge

Diana Durham, Author
Diana Durham, Author . Penguin/Tarcher $25.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-58542-297-5
Reviewed on: 02/02/2004
Release date: 00/00/0000
Paperback - 326 pages - 978-1-58542-381-1
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Durham meticulously anatomizes the King Arthur legend and the quest for the Holy Grail in the light of Jungian analysis and her own personal life journey and reflections. She mystically elucidates how Merlin dwells within us, "residing" in the unconscious (where Durham believes our deepest psychic wounds are hidden). King Arthur is likened to Jesus, Mohammed and Buddha, as a "hero who brings about a renewal of the world" and is identified with a form of mentorship capable of inspiring and challenging the individual to new personal heights. Conversely, the "Wounded Fisher King" represents a spiritually barren leadership, devoid of connection to God. Durham connects this ubiquitous kind of leader with the spiritual "wasteland" in which she believes most of us live. Her book intersperses analyses of other characters in the legends with a series of diagrams that unfold the symbolic aspects of the sword and the chalice, while pointing to potential for harmonizing polarized parts of the self. As she summarizes Arthurian mythology, Durham boldly relates it to modern experience and to her own passage from a Canadian commune to a life founded in marriage and motherhood. Unfortunately, her discussions of recent global politics and environmental issues, poetry and life trends are, at most, educated, rather than penetrating or original, while her interpretative style is exhaustive rather than suggestive, reducing all to Jungian terminology in ways that largely fail to challenge or excite the imagination, although to some readers—probably her target audience—it may feel comfortingly familiar. (Mar.)

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