Surveying the Psyche:

A Jungian Reading of Wilson Harris’ The Guyana Quartet


  • Kathryn Berthelsen University of Edinburgh



The Guyanese novelist, poet and essayist, Wilson Harris is widely regarded as a key contributor to the postcolonial dialogue. However, Harris stands apart in that he is less concerned with conventional notions of cultural identity, and instead explores issues of postcolonial identity through encounters with the human psyche. Indeed, Harris’ writing takes on a profoundly psychological dimension when one considers it in relation to Jung’s seminal work with the collective unconscious, archetypes, and the restorative processes of alchemy and active imagination. In The Guyana Quartet, Wilson Harris uses Jungian thought to create a dream text that functions both as a map for identifying conflicting fragments of the Guyana psyche, and a mechanism for restoring these fragments to a state of unity.