Heinrich Zimmer: Coming Into His Own

Front Cover
Margaret H. Case
Princeton University Press, 1994 - India - 148 pages
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Heinrich Zimmer (1890-1943) is best known in the English-speaking world for the four posthumous books edited by Joseph Campbell and published in the Bollingen Series: Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization, Philosophies of India, The Art of Indian Asia, and The King and the Corpse. These works have inspired several generations of students of Indian religion and culture. Zimmer wrote about Indian art and culture with a feeling and an understanding unique among Western scholars, qualities that have kept his work alive even when subsequent scholars have quarreled with his interpretations. Until 1938 Zimmer worked in Germany, meeting C. G. Jung and finding inspiration and support in the Jungian circle at the Eranos conferences in Ascona. In spite of increasing Nazi repression, he produced during these years a large number of books and articles on Indian tantric texts, yoga, and Indian art and religion - works that remain largely unknown to English speakers. Fleeing the Third Reich in 1938, he moved to New Rochelle, New York in 1940. He was just beginning to establish himself at Columbia University and among the New York Jungians when he died of pneumonia. The posthumous works in English were assembled by Joseph Campbell from lecture notes and scattered papers. This volume opens with an introduction by Margaret Case, contrasting Zimmer's approach to India with that of Jung. There follow two recollections of Zimmer, one by his daughter Maya Rauch, the other by a close friend and supporter in Germany, Herbert Nette. Then William McGuire describes Zimmer's connections with Mary and Paul Mellon and with the Jungian circles in Switzerland and New York. A brief talk by Zimmer, previouslyunpublished, describes his admiration for Jung. Wendy Doniger picks up the question of Zimmer's intellectual legacy, especially in the light of Campbell's editorial work on his English publications. Gerald Chapple raises another question about how his influence was felt: the division between what is known of his work in the German- and the English-speaking worlds. Kenneth Zysk then summarizes and analyzes his contribution to Western knowledge of Hindu medicine; Matthew Kapstein evaluates his place in the West's appreciation of Indian philosophy; and Mary Linda discusses his contributions to the study of Indian art in the light of A. K. Coomaraswamy's work and more recent research. All the papers in this volume testify to Zimmer's originality and to his rightful place in that small group of great scholars - which includes Coomaraswamy and Stella Kramrisch - who were part of the first generation to confront the end of European empires in India and the rest of Asia. Among the first thinkers to try to decolonize the European mind, they offer insights still vital in the contemporary world.

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User Review  - JayLivernois - LibraryThing

A revealing collection of essays on a thinker and cultural worker who had an underated influence on the intellectual and cultural history of the 20th century. Read full review

About the author (1994)

Margaret H. Case has a Ph.D. in Indian history from the University of Chicago, and was for many years Asian Studies editor at Princeton University Press.

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