The concepts of the Jungian theory of personality have long held considerable interest for Robertson Davies, both outside his fiction and as the explicit subject of The Manticore.
This interpretive study discusses Davies' use of Jungian psychology as both a structural and a thematic device and touches on related themes of illusion and the nature of reality.
Drawing extensively on early reviews and articles, Monk sketches the background to Davies' preoccupation with psychology, revealing its influence on his early writings, including the effect of the Jungian concept of the persona on Shakespeare's Boy Actors and the ocncept of the shadow on the Samuel Marchbanks material. She also notes the introduction of the important themes of illusion, as a mask for reality, and ambivalence which are extended in the Salterton trilogy, Fifth Business, and The Manticore.
Monk concludes that World of Wonders reveals an apparent but unsuccessful attempt on Davies' part to get away from Jungian psychology, and an exploration of alternative myths of human identity: the romance myth of the hero and the Spenglerian myth of the Magian soul.