Creation and Publication of the Red Book
When Jung began his explorations of his unconscious, he recorded his fantasies in a series of notebooks, (the “Black Books”) that formed the basis for the Red Book. Using the notebooks, Jung prepared a handwritten draft, had it typed, and edited it. He edited the material further while transcribing it into the Red Book with explanations and elaborations.
Jung created the first section on parchment pages later inserted into the bound book. He illustrated his calligraphic text in the style of a medieval manuscript with paintings, decorative initials, and ornamental borders. A surviving sketch shows that Jung composed the images carefully, starting with pencil drawings. Before beginning the second part of the Red Book, he obtained a large volume of more than 600 pages bound in red leather. Liber Novus (New Book) appears on the spine, and Jung sometimes used that name.
In 1959 Jung attempted to complete the work he had stopped in 1930. Unable or unwilling to finish, he wrote the epilogue, which breaks off in mid sentence on page 190.
As early as the 1920s, Jung considered publishing the Red Book but decided not to include it in the edition of his collected works because it was not scholarly. However, his use of “dear friends” in the text and his sharing parts of it with others indicates he intended the work for an audience.
After his death, Jung’s heirs, reluctant to bring it to the public, eventually locked the book away in a safe deposit box. However, some images were exhibited and published, sparking interest in the entire book.
In 2000, Jung’s descendents decided that the Red Book was central to his work and agreed to allow publication, edited by the distinguished Jung scholar Sonu Shamadasi. The 2009 publication by W.W. Norton and Company has excited great attention and opened the possibility of a new era in the study and understanding of Jung’s work. Read more about Creation and Publication of the Red Book »
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