Cover image for The return of King Arthur : completing the quest for wholeness, inner strength, and self knowledge
The return of King Arthur : completing the quest for wholeness, inner strength, and self knowledge
Durham, Diana.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, [2004]

Physical Description:
326 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
The dramatis personae, places, and symbols of the legend -- King Arthur and the Grail King -- The spiral quest -- The fish, the cup, and the anatomy of the wound -- The Fisher King and the double wound -- The wasteland -- The question and the untried sword -- Blessings of the Grail -- The unfinished theme -- Out of stone into water -- Guinevere's gift -- The chalice of collective sovereignty -- Daughter of God -- The dance.
Format :


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Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BF637.S4 D855 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



An elegant, sweeping, modern-day Jungian interpretation of the two strands of Arthurian myth: the Round Table, Camelot, and King Arthur on one side and the Grail quest on the other. The quest for the Holy Grail is, in a larger sense, the story of the individual's path to wholeness, while the King Arthur legends represent a collective narrative of humanity. In The Return of King Arthur, Diana Durham analyzes the key symbols from the intertwined Arthurian myths. Woven through the narrative are discoveries from her personal search for wholeness while she was living in association with a spiritual community and fully embracing a shared lifestyle. Her exploration of the individual path-the Grail quest, and the collective process-the court of King Arthur, eventually resolves itself as one story, offering the reader insights into how they can have a more satisfying existence. Durham has deciphered the deepest meaning of the Arthurian myths as they relate to our modern lives, and, in the process, uncovered the reasons why they have held our fascination for so long.

Author Notes

Diana Durham is a writer and poet who has been involved in spiritual communities over the past twenty-five years. Diana was a member of the London poetry performance group Angels of Fire, appearing in The Voice Box at the Royal Festival Hall. Her poetry has been featured in numerous journals. The mother of two children, she resides in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The interconnected legends of King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, and the quest for the Holy Grail have been handed down as part of the folklore and literature of Western European nations, fascinating generations of storytellers and readers. More recently, Jungian psychologists such as Emma Jung, Marie-Louise von Franz (The Grail Legend), and Robert A. Johnson (He) have mined these myths for their insights into individual growth and development. Continuing this tradition, poet Durham analyzes the myths, showing their relevance to modern readers and society. For Durham, King Arthur and his knights exemplify the formation of a community under an inspiring leader; the Grail legends thus depict the processes of individuation and self-actualization. In her retelling and discussion, Durham illustrates her thesis with examples from her own search for self-fulfillment in the context of her relationship with the intentional community she has been associated with for more than 20 years. Though Durham has conveniently summarized the legends and symbols associated with the Grail in appendixes, most readers will need more background information. For academic and large public libraries with strong collections in mythology and psychology.-Lucille M. Boone, San Jose P.L., CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Robert A. Johnson, D.Hum.
Forewordp. ix
Introductionp. 1
The Dramatis Personae, Places, and Symbols of the Legendp. 11
1. King Arthur and the Grail Kingp. 17
2. The Spiral Questp. 40
3. The Fish, the Cup, and the Anatomy of the Woundp. 61
4. The Fisher King and the Double Woundp. 81
5. The Wastelandp. 105
6. The Question and the Untried Swordp. 129
7. Blessings of the Grailp. 150
8. The Unfinished Themep. 162
9. Out of Stone into Waterp. 168
10. Guinevere's Giftp. 184
11. The Chalice of Collective Sovereigntyp. 203
12. Daughter of Godp. 223
13. The Dancep. 244
Appendix I. The Intertwined Tales of King Arthur and the Quest for the Grailp. 295
Appendix II. Some Different Meanings of the Vesica Piscis Symbolp. 301
Appendix III. Current Overview of the Ecological Wastelandp. 304
Notesp. 310
Permissionsp. 317
Acknowledgmentsp. 319
Indexp. 321