Recommended Books January 2018

Spirit Vine January 2018, Recommended Books

A Crime in the Family

by Sacha Batthany

A memoir of brutality, heroism and personal discovery from Europe’s dark heart, revealing one of the most extraordinary untold stories of the Second World War

In the spring of 1945, at Rechnitz on the Austrian-Hungarian border, not far from the front lines of the advancing Red Army, Countess Margit Batthyany gave a party in her mansion. The war was almost over, and the German aristocrats and SS officers dancing and drinking knew it was lost. Late that night, they walked down to the village, where 180 enslaved Jewish labourers waited, made them strip naked, and shot them all, before returning to the bright lights of the party. It remained a secret for decades, until Sacha Batthyany, who remembered his great-aunt Margit only vaguely from his childhood as a stern, distant woman, began to ask questions about it.

A Crime in the Family is Sacha Batthyany’s memoir of confronting these questions, and of the answers he found. It is one of the last untold stories of Europe’s nightmare century, spanning not just the massacre at Rechnitz, the inhumanity of Auschwitz, the chaos of wartime Budapest and the brutalities of Soviet occupation and Stalin’s gulags, but also the silent crimes of complicity and cover-up, and the damaged generations they leave behind.

Told partly through the surviving journals of others from the author’s family and the vanished world of Rechnitz, A Crime in the Family is a moving and revelatory memoir in the vein of The Hare with the Amber Eyes and The House by the Lake. It uncovers barbarity and tragedy but also a measure of peace and reconciliation. Ultimately, Batthyany discovers that although his inheritance might be that of monsters, he does not bear it alone.

Metaphor and Imaginal Psychology: A Hermetic Reflection

by Marc Slavin

Metaphor and Imaginal Psychology: A Hermetic Reflection provides the first full-length exploration of the significance of metaphor in post-Jungian psychology. Its portrayal of the mythological figure of Hermes as a personification of metaphor marks an original contribution to the field of metaphor studies.

After a 2,500-year exile from philosophy and related areas of study, beginning with Plato’s ejection of the poets from the ideal city-state, metaphor is today experiencing a season of renewal. Among the fields where its significance as a way of seeing, thinking, and feeling has been especially prominent is archetypal psychology, perhaps the most philosophically attuned of psychological disciplines.

Approaching the work of James Hillman and other key archetypal psychologists from a poststructuralist perspective, Metaphor and Imaginal Psychology draws insightful comparisons between archetypal psychology and the deconstructive philosophy of Jacques Derrida, a principle theorist of metaphor’s philosophical resurgence.

By linking two disciplines that might at first appear as strange bedfellows, Metaphor and Imaginal Psychology underscores the influence of metaphor in reason and emotion, and makes a compelling case for the Mercurial ethos of our postmodern world. Aside from representing essential reading for therapists and theorists working in post-Jungian studies, the book will appeal to readers, students and scholars of literary criticism, psychology, philosophy and mythology.

The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story

by Hyeonseo Lee

An extraordinary insight into life under one of the world’s most ruthless and secretive dictatorships – and the story of one woman’s terrifying struggle to avoid capture/repatriation and guide her family to freedom.

As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee was one of millions trapped by a secretive and brutal communist regime. Her home on the border with China gave her some exposure to the world beyond the confines of the Hermit Kingdom and, as the famine of the 1990s struck, she began to wonder, question and to realise that she had been brainwashed her entire life. Given the repression, poverty and starvation she witnessed surely her country could not be, as she had been told “the best on the planet”?

Aged seventeen, she decided to escape North Korea. She could not have imagined that it would be twelve years before she was reunited with her family.