An extraordinary book awaited for decades its importance cannot be overstated.
Between 1914 and 1930, Jung entered an extended visionary experience that he called his “confrontation with the unconscious.” Based on these visions, he subsequently developed his principal theories of the collective unconscious, the archetypes, psychological types and the process of individuation. Jung focused on transforming psychotherapy from a practice concerned with the treatment of pathology into a means for reconnection with the soul and the recovery of meaning in life. At the heart of this endeavor was his legendary Red Book, a large, leather bound, illuminated volume that he created between 1914 and 1930, which contained the substance of his visions. It became the nucleus of his later works. While Jung considered the Red Book, or Liber Novus (New Book) to be the central work in his oeuvre, it remained unpublished till and unavailable for study and unseen by the public at large.
The Red Book is best described as a visionary and prophetic work, and not simply as an imaginative literary or scientific document. It is possibly the most influential unpublished work in the history of psychology. Jung originally titled the manuscript Liber Novus (literally meaningA New Book in Latin), but it was informally known and published as The Red Book. The book is written in calligraphic text and contains many illuminations.
The Red Book – Liber Novus
As Jung stated:
“The years … when I pursued the inner images were the most important time of my life. Everything else is to be derived from this. It began at that time, and the later details hardly matter anymore. My entire life consisted in elaborating what had burst forth from the unconscious and flooded me like an enigmatic stream and threatened to break me. That was the stuff and material for more than only one life…. Everything later was merely the outer classification,the scientific elaboration, and the integration into life. But the numinous beginning, which contained everything, was then.”
Over a hundred-thousand copies have now been sold. It is available at Amazon.com at a great discount price (usually around $146). Buy the Book.
The New York Times Magazine (September 20, 2009 edition) offered a very interesting article about Jung and the Red Bookonline: The Holy Grail of the Unconscious.
An excellent introductory lecture by Dr. Hoeller on Jung’s vision of a coming new aeon of consciousness – a central theme of the Red Book– is available free at BC Recordings.