TRANSLATE THIS DARKNESS by Claire Douglas

TRANSLATE THIS DARKNESS

The Life of Christiana Morgan: The Veiled Woman in Jung's Circle
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 California psychoanalyst Douglas turns a fascinated but short- sighted eye to the life of Christiana Morgan, a woman of influence in the formative years of American psychoanalysis. A blue-blooded Bostonian through her mother, Morgan rebelled against the life of ease prepared for her by rushing into an engagement with a Harvard boy-turned-soldier on the eve of his departure for France during WW I. Busy as a nurse while her betrothed was losing his humanity to the horrors of trench warfare, Douglas found her subsequent marriage far from harmonious as Bill Morgan struggled to find his niche as a civilian. A child failed to add stability, with Christiana finding time while living in N.Y.C. to have an affair with Zionist Chaim Weizmann. Her attraction to future psychoanalyst Henry Murray led to a fiery passion when they went to Cambridge University to study, accompanied by their spouses. Jung's writings and Herman Melville's Pierre provided sustenance to feed the pair's infatuation, and when Murray and the Morgans traveled to Zurich in the mid-1920's to be analyzed, Christiana's beauty, along with her visions and drawings--rich in the archetypal imagery Jung was exploring--enchanted Jung as well. But Christiana returned to America with her self-doubts unresolved, and, though she became Murray's right hand in leading the Harvard Psychological Clinic, the couple's passion suffered from his infidelity, leading her to bouts of alcoholism and reclusion, and finally to suicide in the 1960's. Christiana's tragic life has little impact as presented here, however; Douglas's narrow focus on the Morgan/Murray love story leaves no room for a larger social and intellectual view, with the cloying intimacy of the prose, as well as extensive (and unjustified) excerpts from Morgan's correspondence and diaries, making the narrative tedious and turgid. The merits of what might have been a useful biography are squandered here in stylistic excess and single-minded scholarship.

Pub Date: Aug. 20th, 1993
ISBN: 0-671-70378-1
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1993