Jung and the Restless...

At last, the infamous The Red Book, or "Liber Novus", the personal diary/journal of Carl Jung, has been published for perusal by the public at large!

Jung began the book in 1914 after a falling out with his mentor and teacher Sigmund Freud. Jung's family denied scholars access to the book until 2001.

The book is written and illustrated entirely in Jung's own hand, with many shamanic and mandala-like images, meticulously detailed and vibrantly colored. This magnificent book, sized the same as the original at 11.57 inches by 15.35 inches, is a delight to hold and look at even if you know nothing of Jung's seminal work towards our understanding of what he called the "collective unconscious." Begun during a period of "creative illness", Jung viewed the writing as an experiment in which he confronted his own unconscious. He worked on the book for 16 years, which enabling him to develop his theories of archetypes, the collective unconscious, and individuation.

This astoundingly beautiful work offers a unique glimpse into the most intimate details of a troubled and highly creative man's search for his own soul. His visions are reminiscent of medieval illuminated manuscripts, richly colored and very detailed. The closer I looked, the extraordinary details in the illustrations inspired my own reveries.

Carl Jung took a much more spiritual approach to psychoanalysis than Freud. This work is not clinical, or even necessarily scholarly. This is the highly personal record of one man's intense inner journey. It is not always easily accessed or understood, perhaps even by Jung himself.

The central premise of the book, according to Sonu Shamdasani, Jung scholar and editor of the Red Book, is "Jung had become disillusioned with scientific rationalism - what he called “the spirit of the times” - and over the course of many quixotic encounters with his own soul and with other inner figures, he comes to know and appreciate “the spirit of the depths,” a field that makes room for magic, coincidence and the mythological metaphors delivered by dreams. [...]"

Jung's original text is in German, but there is a full English translation in the back. I didn't read much of the text, frankly. I'm familiar enough with his theories, but intend to go back when I'm finished looking at the wonderful illustrations!

Written by Jamie on April 27, 2010

Leave a comment