Thursday 19 November: Jungian Interpretations of Merlin

This week Prof. Roderick Main introduces a discussion of Merlin as interpreted by C. G. Jung and his associates.

In this session we shall look at the legendary figure of Merlin as interpreted by C. G. Jung, Emma Jung, and Marie-Louise von Franz. For these writers Merlin was the literary counterpart of the Medieval alchemical figure of Mercurius and, as such, represented an attempt on the part of Medieval consciousness to develop a symbol of the self and of God that incorporated elements omitted from the then dominant Christian God-image.  The selections include passages about Merlin from Geoffrey of Monmouth’s The History of the Kings of Britain, the work that more than any other fostered the legend of Merlin. It also includes Chapter XIV, ‘Le cri de Merlin’, from Marie-Louise von Franz’s somewhat hagiographical biography C. G. Jung: His Myth in Our Time.  Anyone unsated by these selections could turn to Emma Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz’s book The Grail Legend (not included here), the final five chapters of which present the Jungian interpretation of Merlin in even greater detail.

Geoffrey of Monmouth’s The History of the Kings of Britain, trans. by Lewis Thorpe (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1966), pp. 166-169; 186-187; 194-201; 206-207.

Marie-Louise von Franz’s ‘Le cri de Merlin’, in C. G. Jung: His Myth in Our Time (Hodder & Stoughton: London, 1975), pp. 269-287.

Myth Reading Group

Thursday 19 November

12:00-1:30pm      Room 3.318

Poster and extracts:

Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain

Marie-Louise von Franz’s ‘Le cri de Merlin’

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