Literature and the Shaman:

Jung, Trauma Stories and New Origin Stories in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis


  • Susan Rowland University of Greenwich



The paper first considers the role of Jungian ideas in relation to academic disciplines and to literary studies in particular. Jung is a significant resource in negotiating developments in literary theory because of his characteristic treatment of the ‘other’. The paper then looks at The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) by C.S. Lewis whose own construction of archetypes is very close to Jung’s. By drawing upon new post-Jungian work from Jerome Bernstein’s Living in the Borderland (2005), the novel is revealed to be intimately concerned with narratives of trauma and of origin. Indeed, a Jungian and post-Jungian approach is able to situate the text both within nature and in the historical traumas of war as well as the personal traumas of subjectivity. Where Bernstein connects his work to the postcolonial ethos of the modern Navajo shaman, this new weaving of literary and cultural theory points to the residue of shamanism within the arts of the West.