The narrative of Pilgrim and his psychiatrist, Carl G. Jung, begins with Pilgrim's most recent unsuccessful attempt to kill himself. The surrealistic nature of the tale begins with this mysterious inability of the title character to exit life--a life self-proclaimed to have covered multiple incarnations over millennia each of which he has memory. His friend and his servants take him to Zurich to the renowned psychiatrist's clinic for institutionalization and therapy. Enter Dr. Jung, whose personal and professional life assumes a dominant role in the narrative.

As the story progresses, the reader learns from Pilgrim's journals the interstices of his seemingly endless voyage. While Pilgrim's tale--real or imagined--is progressively revealed, the immediate lives of the Jungs are explored in increasing depth. Layer upon layer of development of plot, past and present, is peeled away until Pilgrim escapes his prison and Jung's emotional chaos is exposed.


This novel is compelling from its outset, but requires close attention in order to comprehend the direction of the narrative. The writer creates fascinating characters, some of whom are not fully developed but lurk in the shadows of Pilgrim's past and Jung's present. Pilgrim is not a light read, but is carefully and adroitly developed. Like any good suspense work, the revelations of the story build gradually and cleverly.

For the reader concerned with medicine in literature, especially psychiatry in literature, this novel is a fine contribution. There is a discernable basis in historical fact surrounding some of the events and characters in the work, the factual references are described and clarified in the AUTHOR'S NOTE at the end of the novel.


First published 1999.



Place Published

New York



Page Count


Secondary Source