What Is The Red Book for Analytical Psychology?

Murray Stein


In 2009, a remarkable and much belated addition to the oeuvre arrived at the field’s doorstep:The Red Book. For more than seventy years, this medieval-like illuminated calligraphic manuscript lay first on the shelves of Jung’s private library and then in a bank vault. Evidently, Jung himself was at least somewhat ambivalent about its place in his over-all oeuvre, since he kept it to himself and a very few close associates in his lifetime, and when he passed away he left behind no instructions concerning its publication posthumously. Moreover, it is an unfinished work, a fragment. Liber Novus (Jung’s title for this work) comes into the field somewhat like a long concealed illigitmate child into an established and distinguished family. This mystery member of the family may turn out to be be quite exceptional and display remarkable gifts, but there is also some trepidation concerning potential embarrassment. With its public appearance, The Red Bookmust now be considered as part and parcel of the field’s heritage, whether one likes it or not. What is The Red Book for analytical psychology? Does it belong to the body of seminal works beside Jung’s other major writings, or is it to be ranked as the equivalent of a writer’s personal diary and sketchbook, akin to Leonardo’s Notebooks, which shows the early workings of a brilliant mind as the creator prepares for his more serious later contributions to a scientific or cultural enterprise? Conversely, one can also wonder if all of Jung’s later writings were nothing more than an attempt to explicate this monumental foundational work and make its ideas and insights, which are here expressed in colorful image and high-flown rhetorical style, digestible for modern readers and thinkers.

Presentation video "The Bible as a Dream": https://vimeo.com/294438022/217d9bac9a  


Analytical Psychology; Jung; Imagination; Spirit; Tradition

Full Text:



1) Jung, C. G., & Jaffe, A. (1963). Memories, dreams. Reflections, 84.

2) Jung, C. G. (1895). The Zofingia Lectures. Collected Works.

3) Jung, C. G. (2014). Collected Works of CG Jung, Volume 20: General Index (Vol. 55). Princeton University Press.

4) Giegerich, W. (2010). Liber Novus, that is, the new bible: A first analysis of CG Jung’s Red Book. Spring: A Journal of Archetype and Culture, 83, 361-411.

5) Evans, K. L. (2011). Personal communication. See also International Association for Jungian Studies [Electronic mailing list message].

6) Jung, C. G., Shamdasani, S. E., Kyburz, M. T., & Peck, J. T. (2009). The red book: Liber novus. WW Norton & Co. 7) Jung, C. G. (2007). The Jung-White letters. Routledge.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.6092/2282-1619/2019.7.2059


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