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Lu, K. (2008). Meyer, Ruth. Clio's Circle: Entering the Imaginal World of Historians. New Orleans, Louisiana: Spring Journal Books, 2007. Pp. xiv + 211. Pbk. $ 23.95.. J. Anal. Psychol., 53(5):722-723.

(2008). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 53(5):722-723

Meyer, Ruth. Clio's Circle: Entering the Imaginal World of Historians. New Orleans, Louisiana: Spring Journal Books, 2007. Pp. xiv + 211. Pbk. $ 23.95.

Review by:
Kevin Lu

Edited by:
Linda Carter and Marcus West

In Clio's Circle: Entering the Imaginal World of Historians, Ruth Meyer fully braves the relatively uncharted territory of Jungian psycho-history. There remain, however, many hazards, some of which Meyer successfully surmounts.

The book begins with a recollection of Meyer's journey as an historian, ranging from the difficulties she faced as one of the first female undergraduates at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, to her synchronistic experience while viewing Robespierre's final letter housed at the Conciergerie Prison (pp. 2-3). She goes on to discuss the muse Clio—the feminine representation of historical inspiration—paying attention to particular historians such as Natalie Zemon Davis, for whom this daughter of Mnemosyne no longer serves as an iconic guide for historical research (p. 40). Meyer then examines the way in which Freud and Jung relate to history, contending that personal travels and dreams are the foundation of their respective engagements with the past. Chapter four continues her quest to uncover the origins of historical inspiration. Next, Meyer discusses the connection between Jung and the historian Arnold Toynbee before examining some of the latter's more moving experiences whilst travelling. Chapter six concentrates on the role played by dreams and visions in stimulating the imagination of historians, heightening their feelings of vocation which in turn lead them to dedicate their lives to the historical enterprise. Chapter seven is a short but insightful account of the relationship between historians and archives, while the final section considers the therapeutic nature of engaging with history.

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