Marie-Louise Von Franz, The Interpretation of Fairy Tales

I’ve seen quite a few copies of this book in second hand stores over the years. I suspect they end up there because students are drawn to learning about fairy tales, take the course, read the book, and can’t wait to get rid of it when school is done.

I’m not saying von Franz is a bad Jungian or a terrible writer. I’m saying she’s wrong.

Yes, that’s a harsh claim – especially from someone with their feet up on their desk admiring their empty credential frames. But bear with me for a moment.

When presented with any two apparently disparate objects, any idiot can make associations between them. This is not difficult. This is what humans do – and do, some would argue, best. Yes, there are probably good ethnographical, psychological or purely algebraical reasons for making those connections. That doesn’t make your connections retroactive. Whatever Hindu origin myth and Cree folktale you want draw lines between, any six year old will gladly do it for you for a broken Oreo. When a world-class Jungian psychoanalyst does it, interminably, it just comes off as an intellectual wank. (Not that I object to that in itself, I just wish there were pictures.)

Good on ya if it’s comparative lit. If you’re tracing the development of a story across time or a continent, party on. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. She’s saying the similarities exist because they are ingrained, innate, archetypal. Which is sort of like arguing Michelangelo’s David was just sitting there waiting in the stone. Well, ya, it was. But so was that Homer Simpson bobble-head and any other thing that could be sculpted. You don’t get to say Eureka! when you had it in your pocket all along.

There you go. End rant. Now you can get back to your alviducous foozling.