Silver Mysteries. "Patrick White and Alchemy", by James Bulman-May. [review]
Bulman-May’s goal is to show that the major novels are in fact comprehensively based on this particular branch of medieval enquiry. Now, given that none of the biographical material indicates that White had any particular interest in alchemy, the reader may be forgiven for approaching this book with a degree of scepticism. I suspect that White, if he was still alive (and cared enough), would probably dismiss it as so much academic pseudointellectualism, just as he objected to David Tacey’s Jungian approach in "Patrick White: Fiction and the Unconscious" (1988) on the grounds that it restricted his novels to a particular frame of reference, and that he (White) had not even read Jung until he came to write "The Solid Mandala". Like Tacey and Watson before him, Bulman-May could respond with the ‘universal impulse’ defence: alchemical principles are submerged in the universal unconscious, and emerge from time to time in the work of outstanding artists.