After being hidden for almost 100 years, Carl Gustav Jung’s illustrated masterpiece, “The Red Book,” will be on display at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., through Sept. 25.
Jung wrote the book between 1914 and 1930, while he was plagued with hallucinations and vivid dreams — the result, he thought, of a dialogue between his conscious and unconscious mind. Jung recorded, interpreted and illustrated his visions in a leather-bound, 205-page volume. He later said that work underpinned his most important ideas, including his theory of the collective unconscious and his description of mythological archetypes.
“‘The Red Book’ is the blueprint for all of Jung’s ideas,” says Eugene Taylor, PhD, an APA and Div. 26 Fellow (Society for the History of Psychology) and board member of the Philemon Foundation, which cosponsored the volume’s translation and exhibition. “Every biography that has been written about Jung now has to be rewritten.”
Perhaps out of concern for Jung’s privacy or the fear that “The Red Book” would undermine Jung’s scientific credibility, Jung’s heirs did not allow scholars to see the book after he died in 1961. “The Red Book” remained one of psychology’s most influential unpublished works until psychology historian Sonu Shamdasani, PhD, convinced the book’s caretakers to remove it from a Swiss vault and share it with the world. (Shamdasani later edited and co-translated the volume.)
In addition to “The Red Book,” the Library of Congress exhibit includes a first-edition print of Jung’s doctoral thesis on séances, a letter Jung wrote criticizing Sigmund Freud’s treatment of his patients and students, and the letter Freud wrote to Jung in 1913 terminating their professional and personal relationship. Also on display is a 1977 “Star Wars” poster that illustrates how director George Lucas used Jung’s theory of archetypes in constructing his characters.
“Our goal is to use ‘The Red Book’ to educate the public about Jung’s influence on psychology, on the arts and on popular culture,” says James Hutson, PhD, chief of the library’s manuscript division.
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