New York Times book review, December 6, 2009
By KATHRYN HARRISON
THE RED BOOK
By C. G. Jung
Edited by Sonu Shamdasani
Translated by Mark Kyburz, John Peck and Sonu Shamdasani
Illustrated. 371 pp. W. W. Norton & Company. $195
From 1914 until 1930, C. G. Jung recorded, revised, rewrote, recopied and painstakingly illustrated what he considered “the numinous beginning” from which all the rest of his work derived. “The Red Book,” or as Jung called it, “Liber Novus,” consisted of some 200 parchment pages of meticulous calligraphy and visionary paintings collected into a huge folio bound in red leather. While its content, either whole or in part, was made available to a handful of colleagues and patients, its publication was postponed until now, nearly 50 years after his death, because Jung feared the book’s potential impact on his reputation. After all, anyone who read it might conclude what Jung himself first suspected: that the great doctor had lost his mind.
Jung began what would become “The Red Book” shortly after he had fallen out with Freud, each unable to accept the other’s understanding of the unconscious.