The Sun Within: A psychic star in the fiction of Wilson Harris and J. G. Ballard
In the twentieth century, myth was often expressed in parallel with the symbolic language of psychoanalysis. In very different ways, Wilson Harris and J. G. Ballard each use internalised images of the sun to construct and narrate their modern mythical landscapes. In Harris's Palace of the Peacock (1960), the sun fills the pages with its blinding power. In Ballard's The Drowned World (1962), the dual image of the physical and the psychological sun inspires an atavistic pilgrimage. Both authors acknowledged the influence of C. G. Jung, and his theories of mythic or archaic thought elucidate the worlds of these highly distinct writers. This paper contrasts the use of the psychological affect of the sun in these two novels. I consider what they can tell us about the eternal power of the sun over the human imagination, and about the star's role as a primal divinity in the modern age.
Ben Pestell has taught literature, myth, and interdisciplinary studies at the University of Essex, where he serves on the executive committee of the Centre for Myth Studies. His PhD examined the language used in Greek tragedy to express the miraculous experience of divine activity, and the modern reception and interpretation of these ideas. He is co-editor of Translating Myth (Legenda, 2016), and has published on Aeschylus and contemporary classical reception. His current research focuses on the presence of myth in modern and contemporary English literature.