Ancient Greeks and Romans had a term for the Double, referring to such an entity as a personal daemon or protector, a heavenly twin, who acts as an invisible guide during the lifetime of an individual. Recent Jungian psychologists refer to ''the double'' as ''a soul figure with all the erotic and spiritual significance'' attached to those inner figures whom Jung called anima (the inner feminine side of men) and animus (the inner masculine side of women). The double archetype, however, is not of the opposite, but of the same gender. Every man and woman carries within his or her soul this psychic pattern or energy, expressed in the need for same-sex relationships of love, tenderness, affirmation and intimacy.
For the male, this archetype contains those of father, son, brother, and, for some, lover. The double is facilitative of rapport, creating an atmosphere between doubles of profound equality and deep familiarity that can lead to the development of self-awareness, self-identity, and great creativity. For men, it lies behind males bonding intellectually, emotionally, and at times physically with other males, and is responsible for any collaborative efforts between them. This archetype is particularly significant in education, expressing itself in those friendships that frequently occur between younger and older men, students and teachers, mentors and protégés.
This book examines the concept of the Double in history and literary sources, from the earliest known literature, The Epic of Gilgamesh, to the life and writings of the 20th-century Beat writer, Jack Kerouac. Drawing upon his knowledge of theology, Jungian psychology, literature, and the history of Christian spirituality, Sellner shows how this inner figure, reflected in those close friendships between men as fathers and sons, brothers, mentors, guides, and lovers is helpful for all men in their journey toward spiritual meaning and wholeness.
I am somebody who has a strong interest in the Beat Generation of writers, which is why I picked up this book. This book is not only one of the most interesting and well researched on any of the topics it covers, but also Important for the casual reader. For while the work he does on archetypical theories, and the lives the men he covers is incredibly well done, The Double as a book not only validates feelings which one may have been told are wrong, but also introduces new ideas of human relationships that people would most likely benefit from adopting but have probably never heard of. Moreover, the writing is interesting and sympathetic, as well as heavily detailed without dragging on and on. This is a book written to help men deprogram from what our society tells them about relationships with other men, but it is a book that men, women, and those neither and both can enjoy. For it teaches important lessons, and makes us realize no matter who we are we can relate to the archetypical friendships in this book.
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From the other reviews I wasn't expecting greatness from this book but I took a risk and was pleasantly surprised. It'll be in my top books of the year I'm sure. Thoughtfully written and well researched The Double stays true to it's theme of healing through friendship. It explores this through the lives of various historical characters with honesty, openness and insight. The narration is average but the book is great and shines never-the-less.
I would categorise this book as Progressive Christian/historical/biographical/spiritual.