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Carl Jung’s Red Book Published

December 14, 2009

From Wikipedia article on The Red Book:

The Red Book, also known as Liber Novus (The New Book), is a 205-page manuscript written and illustrated by Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung between approximately 1914 and 1930, which was not published or shown to the public until 2009. Until 2001, his heirs denied scholars access to the book, which he began after a falling-out with Sigmund Freud in 1913. The book is written in calligraphic text and contains many illuminations.

Jung was associated with Freud for a period of approximately five years, beginning in 1907. Their relationship became increasingly acrimonious. When the final break came in 1913, Jung retreated from many of his professional activities for a time to further develop his own theories. Biographers disagree as to whether this period represented a psychological breakdown.[1] Anthony Storr, reflecting on Jung’s own judgment that he was “menaced by a psychosis” during this time, concluded that the period represented a psychotic episode.[2]

Jung referred to the episode as a kind of experiment, a voluntary confrontation with the unconscious.[3] Biographer Barbara Hannah, who was close to Jung later in his life, compared Jung’s experiences to the encounter of Menelaus with Proteus in the Odyssey. Jung, she said, “made it a rule never to let a figure or figures that he encountered leave until they had told him why they had appeared to him.”[4]

About the Red Book, Jung said:

The years… when I pursued the inner images, were the most important time of my life. Everything else is to be derived from this. It began at that time, and the later details hardly matter anymore. My entire life consisted in elaborating what had burst forth from the unconscious and flooded me like an enigmatic stream and threatened to break me. That was the stuff and material for more than one life. Everything later was merely the outer classification, scientific elaboration, and the integration into life. But the numinous beginning, which contained everything, was then.[5]

There are some lovely large images on this page:

Carl Jung’s Red Book at the Rubin Museum of Art.

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