The Red Book
In The Library
In 1913, following his split from Freud and amidst personal turmoil, Jung had what he called a “confrontation with the unconscious”. It was as if “an incessant stream of fantasies had been released” (MDR 1983, p 200). It was an extremely difficult time for Jung, and he says, “Only by extreme effort was I finally able to escape from the labyrinth.” He knew this was the “same psychic material which is the stuff of psychosis.” “But it is also the matrix of a mythopoetic imagination which has vanished from our rational age.” (MDR, 1983, p 213)
Jung considered his descent a voluntary “experiment”, and recorded his fantasies. He transferred them to a red leather book using a highly structured literary form and language, writing in an elaborate Gothic Script and embellishing it with paintings and drawings. All of this is reproduced in the recent publication of The Red Book, along with the English translations. Until recently very few people had seen the book. Since 2001 historian Sonu Shamdasani has worked for Jung’s heirs to prepare the book for publication, with the support of the Philemon Foundation.
Many Jung Society members and friends will have seen some of the images and text from The Red Book on the Zurich exhibition panels which the Society displays from time to time. The publication of this book is an exciting event and you can see it in the library. Next semester the Jungian Analyst André de Koning will be speaking to the Society on Jung’s Red Book.