Occultism in Robertson Davies’s The Deptford Trilogy
Vandenburg, Mary Claire
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Through an examination of Robertson Davies’s The Deptford Trilogy, this thesis analyses the influence of the international Theosophical movement (with close attention to the Toronto Theosophical Society) and psychoanalysis to the moral world presented in these three Davies novels. Chapter One outlines the context of nineteenth-century Western belief in Theosophy, the most powerful occult movement in the world at the time, with special attention to Toronto as the center for Theosophy in Canada. Chapter Two looks at the occult influence of psychoanalysis, specifically Freud’s uncanny, in Fifth Business, Jung’s theory of individuation in The Manticore and Davies’s growing understanding of Gnosticism in World of Wonders. This second chapter is supported with reference to Davies’s personal library, now housed at the W.D. Jordan Special Collections and Music Library at Queen’s University. I conclude by arguing, with evidence from the novels, that Davies was aware of and influenced by the teachings of the Theosophical Society, which along with his study of Jung, brought him into sympathy with modern Gnosticism. I present evidence that Davies placed numerous hidden references to occult themes within The Deptford Trilogy for the enlightened reader to discover, and that these references offer a new perspective on Davies analysis not yet part of the critical record.