Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

Term derived from a Greek word meaning an original pattern or template, and adapted into various metaphysical theses. Platonist philosophers used it to refer to the primal "ideas", or transcendent essences, of which existent things are inferior reproductions; scholastic philosophers used it to refer to the divine ideas determining the forms of Creation; John Locke (1632-1704) used it to refer to the external Realities to which our ideas and impressions correspond. Its modern usage is dominated by the psychological theories of Carl Jung (> Jungian Psychology), who postulated that "the archetypes of the collective unconscious" are innate features of the human psyche which direct all fantasy activity, thus giving rise to a series of "archetypal images" which constantly resurface in Myth, Folklore, literature (in its "visionary" mode) and Dreams. Jung's most significant essays on the topic 1934-1955 can be found in Part 1 of volume 9 (1959) of his Collected Works. Jung never attempted a comprehensive list but he referred, among others, to the Mother (> Goddess), Rebirth, the Spirit and the Trickster; his notions of the Anima and animus are affiliates of the same theoretical framework. Jungian folklorists and literary theorists have been more prolific than consistent in identifying archetypal images; those most frequently employed include the Earth Mother, the Divine Child, the Unwilling Hero, the Wise Old Man and the Enchanted Prince. A rare pre-Jungian use of archetypes in fantasy can be found in "The Seven Geases" (1934) by Clark Ashton Smith. [BS]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.