The most influential unpublished work in the history of psychology. When Carl Jung embarked on an extended self-exploration he called his confrontation with the unconscious, the heart of it was The Red Book, a large, illuminated volume he created between 1914 and 1930. Here he developed his principle theoriesof the archetypes, the collective unconscious, and the process of individuationthat transformed psychotherapy from a practice concerned with treatment of the sick into a means for higher development of the personality.
While Jung considered The Red Book to be his most important work, only a handful of people have ever seen it. Now, in a complete facsimile and translation, it is available to scholars and the general public. It is an astonishing example of calligraphy and art on a par with The Book of Kells and the illuminated manuscripts of William Blake. This publication of The Red Book is a watershed that will cast new light on the making of modern psychology.
212 color illustrations.
- Amazon Sales Rank: #1320 in Books
- Published on: 2009-10-19
- Original language: English
- Number of items: 1
- Binding: Hardcover
- 416 pages
In short, this is a volume that will be treasured by the confirmed Jungian or by admirers of beautifully made books or by those with a taste for philosophical allegory. (Michael Dirda - Washington Post )
About the Author
Sonu Shamdasani, a preeminent Jung historian, is Reader in Jung History at Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at University College London. He lives in London, England.
From The Washington Post
From The Washington Post's Book World/washingtonpost.com Reviewed by by Michael Dirda Starting in 1912, Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), a specialist in the treatment of schizophrenia, began to experience strange dreams and frightening visions. Once when returning home on a train, the 38-year-old Swiss psychologist hallucinated that everywhere he looked he could see nothing but "rivers of blood." In one enigmatic dream a bird-girl hauntingly announced, "Only in the first hour of the night can I become human, while the male dove is busy with the twelve dead"; in another he encountered a wise old man, with wings, holding four keys. After a while, Jung began to carry on conversations with the winged "Philemon" during his daytime walks. Was he going mad? After World War I broke out in 1914, Jung decided with relief that his disturbed imagination had actually been sensing the coming conflict. He also concluded that he had entered what we would now call a midlife crisis, a period in which he was being compelled to reexamine his life and explore his deepest self. To do this, he recorded some of his dreams and visions in what were later called his "Black Books" (which have been available for some while). But he also began a remarkable visionary text, illustrated with his own bizarre paintings: "The Red Book" or "Liber Novus." This he composed during a state of "active imagination" -- that is, of reverie or waking dream. As he said, he wanted to see what would happen when he "switched off consciousness." To the modern reader, the result recalls an allegorical-mythological amalgam of Nietzsche's "Also Sprach Zarathustra," Blake's illuminated poems, Renaissance Neoplatonic dialogue, Eastern scripture, Dante's "Inferno," Yeats's "A Vision" and even the biblical book of Revelation. Jung's pictures sometimes resemble simplified versions of Georgia O'Keeffe's flower paintings and sometimes the symbol-laden images in treatises about alchemy (a subject that Jung was soon to study intently). Throughout, one finds illuminated capitals, interlaced roundels that call to mind stained-glass windows, stars, half moons, swords, crosses, dying animals. Jung also drew circular patterns that he later recognized as versions of the mystical shape called the mandala. "The Red Book" was never published during the psychologist's lifetime, though a few friends and disciples were allowed to examine it. Apparently Jung felt it was not only too personal and quirky for publication, but also that he had already mined the text for the insights set forth in his later writings. As editor Sonu Shamdasani stresses, "The overall theme of the book is how Jung regains his soul and overcomes the contemporary malaise of spiritual alienation. This is ultimately achieved through enabling the rebirth of a new image of God in his soul and developing a new worldview in the form of a psychological and theological cosmogony." After Jung's death, "The Red Book," was safely locked away in a bank deposit box. But, as happens, Jung's heirs and disciples have now decided to bring out this facsimile edition (with English translation), as well as mount an exhibition about "The Red Book" at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York (through January). The resulting volume is certainly one of the most distinctive gift books of the upcoming holiday season. With a rich crimson dust jacket, thick cream-colored paper and calligraphied pages, this huge tome is the size of a lectern Bible and looks like the kind of spell book a wizard might consult. During the initial period covered by "The Red Book" -- mainly 1913 through the 1920s -- Jung broke permanently with the founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, and resigned from his teaching position at the University of Zurich. When Jung emerged from this period of crisis, he brought with him the first inklings of his most important contributions to psychology -- positing the existence of a collective unconscious common to all human beings. This primordial ocean within us affects our lives through various universal "archetypes" -- forces or situations that represent our inmost needs, desires and fears. To the most common archetypes, Jung assigned names: anima and animus, the wise old man, the shadow. The anima, for instance, represents the feminine side of a man, his idealized woman, his fatal type. The shadow embodies everyone's dark side, the impulses we suppress, the immoral and evil aspects of our personality. The good Dr. Jekyll's "shadow" was the wicked Mr. Hyde. Gradually, Jung also shifted the focus of psychoanalytic therapy. Early on he had speculated that our libidinal energies are either outer-directed or inner-directed, i.e., people are primarily extroverts or introverts. But this was just a beginning. Where Freud emphasized early childhood and sexuality in his explanation of human neuroses, and Alfred Adler focused on the drive to be superior to others, Jung soon directed his clinical attention to the second half of life and to the process he called individuation. According to editor Shamdasani, "The Red Book" presents "the prototype of Jung's conception of the individuation process." In Jung's view a successful life was all about balance, wholeness. If our lives erred too much in one direction, our unconscious would compensate for the inequality. Thus, in the film "The Blue Angel," the ultra-rationalist professor played by Emil Jannings readily succumbs to naughty Lola, the showgirl played by Marlene Dietrich. Above all, in midlife, a person is called upon to achieve an authentic and balanced self, one that acknowledges every aspect of his or her character. By the age of 40 or 50, one has established a career and nurtured a family, and it is time to turn from the external public life to the needs of the inner man or woman. The process of individuation is essentially the psychological harmonizing of all aspects of the self. When successful, the result is an inner concord, the achievement of a personal serenity that prepares us to accept aging and death. Symbolically, Jung said, the outline of our lives may be glimpsed in the so-called "hero's journey" -- birth in obscurity, various ordeals, confrontation with and defeat of a dragon or similar monster, return home, happy marriage, sacrificial death. This now famous mythic pattern was later elaborated by such Jung-inspired scholars as Otto Rank ("The Myth of the Birth of the Hero"), Lord Raglan ("The Hero") and Joseph Campbell ("The Hero With a Thousand Faces"). As it happens, one must be something of a hero to actually read all of "The Red Book." At times, Jung sounds spiritually anguished: "I am weary, my soul, my wandering has lasted too long, my search for myself outside of myself." At other times, his writing resembles the directions in some fantasy video game: "I am standing in a high hall. Before me I see a green curtain between two columns. The curtain parts easily. . . . In the rear wall, I see a door right and left. . . . I choose the right." At still other times, there are philosophical and religious dialogues of self and soul, or conversations with various mythic characters like Philemon. In short, this is a volume that will be treasured by the confirmed Jungian or by admirers of beautifully made books or by those with a taste for philosophical allegory. Anyone merely interested in Jung's ideas would do better to start with one of the several anthologies of his writings now available. The one compiled by Anthony Storr is particularly good, as is Storr's concise "Modern Masters" guide to the psychologist's thought. firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2009, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.
In 1913, a 40 year old world renowned psychologist suffers recurring dreams and visions of world catastrophe. His expertise as a psychiatrist working with incurable psychotics forces him to conclude that he is on a course to madness. His training as a scientist compels him to meticulously document what he imagines will be his unavoidable decline into insanity. With the outbreak of World War I, he experiences relief in the realization that the images that have haunted him over the prior ten months pictured not his own undoing, but that of the world. As the outer conflict unfolds, he continues to record the process unfolding within his own psyche, which is reflective of the events in the larger collective. He continues the process until near the War's end, and then spends more than a decade devotedly elaborating, amplifying and illustrating the material that burst upon him during that time in order to render it comprehensible.
The Red Book is not "personal" as we use that word now. It is "personal" in the sense that it details one individual's very unique experience of coming into relationship with what Jung termed the Self, and in prior times was referred to as God, but it is at the same time very impersonal, and actually universal, in cataloguing the drama inherent in any person's formation of that relationship. The book is at home with The Odyssey, The Divine Comedy, Goethe's Faust, and, as much as anything, The Red Book is Jung's response to Thus Spoke Zarathustra and to Nietzsche's proposition that for modern man, God is dead. The response is that God is neither dead nor to be found in outer religious, national or political containers, but is to be discovered and struggled with in the living of each individual life.
A not uncommon dream is of stumbling upon a previously unknown addition or wing of one's dwelling, which addition is found to be many, many times the size of the existing structure, and to contain objects and treasures of previously unimaginable value, interest and numinousity. One is filled with awe and wonder at the new found wealth and possibilities. The experience of encountering The Red Book after spending 30 years in Jung's existing body of work is equally stupefying. That there could be so much more that Jung had to share and communicate about the human soul seems not just improbable, but impossible. Yet The Red Book is that much, much larger, more nuanced and tremendously numinous structure that is behind, under, around and the foundation for all of Jung's subsequent ideas, theories, publications and works. Extraordinary.
I HAVE the Red Book and am in the process of reading it. It is beyond description! This truly unique book represents the personal journal one courageous man took into the dangerous realm of the unconscious in search of an understanding of himself and the structure of the human personality in general. In the process, Jung regained his soul which was lost in the contemporary malaise of spiritual alienation. Liber Novus, as the book is called, represents a prototype of the individuation process, which is seen as the universal form of individual development. Jung was a psychiatrist who worked with schizophrenics. He intuited that their fantasies held meaning important for their healing and saw that some of the fantasies corresponded to mythological motifs. This curiosity lead Jung to his own decision to drop beneath consciousness to explore the realm of these fantasies, the realm of the "dead". He did this without chemicals or inducers but through a process he called active imagination. An inner world opened up to him to explore, which he documented in his writings and paintings. The book itself is like a medieval manuscript created with great care. He worked on the book for 16 years, giving it to others to read and edit with the intention of it one day being published. Liber Novus is a book of wisdom and deserves to be studied. It invites the reader into the world of imagination--like the dream world. I have studied my dreams for years and the language is similar. It shows what we have to learn when we slow down and listen to the inner voices. I thank Jung for giving me a guide to the soul, or human personality--which ever language one prefers.
Believe the Hype
This book is glorious. I hardly need to comment on the content, as Jung's magnum opus is clearly of mythical proportions. And reality certainly matches the myth. Aside from the content, the presentation is outstanding. High quality color copies of his journal entries are provided in original form throughout the first half of the book, and translations and editor commentary are provided in the second half. The binding, printing and color quality are all museum grade, and I consider this an investment-quality purchase. This is by far one of the most important pieces of psychological thought, and offers a rare glimpse into a brilliant man's thinking on a highly abstruse concept.