Hidden mutualities : Faustian themes in the postcolonial
Hidden mutualities link the work of major postcolonial writers with Marlowe's drama of the Faustian pact - the manipulation of the material world in exchange for the soul - written as the 'scientific' world view was emerging which accompanied the imperial expansion of Europe and has determined the economic and social structures of the colonial and post-colonial world. This comparative study brings together researches in widely different fields to show how Doctor Faustus reflects a Gnostic / Hermetic tradition marginalized within the dominant European power structures. It shows initially how these ideas were crystallized by Ficino and Pico from the available texts of the Corpus Hermeticum, and how they relate to what has become known about Gnosticism and Simon Magus. Combined with the alchemical and cabalistic traditions they form a basis for the study of Renaissance 'Magus' figures such as Trithemius, Reuchlin, Agrippa, Paracelsus or Dee, who are reflected in Faust and in Shakespeare's Prospero in The Tempest. The second part investigates the dual legacy of the Magus. A counterpoint between a law-governed objective material world and an occult visionary pursuit of the divine potential of the human imagination, in which the Gnostic / Hermetic tradition ironically became marginalized by the technological science it had inspired, is traced through the examples of Kepler, Fludd, Newton, Blake, Kipling, Crowley, Yeats, Pauli and Jung. In the third part, textual analysis reveals how attention to these Faustian themes opens new critical perspectives in appreciating the works of postcolonial writers, in particular Dimetos by Athol Fugard, Disappearance by David Dabydeen, Omeros by Derek Walcott, and the novels of Wilson Harris, all of which stress the importance of the creative imagination over mimesis.