“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.”
~Protocols for “Memories, Dreams, Reflections” C.G. Jung, 1958
“The Red Book” by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) is the centerpiece of a new Library of Congress exhibition titled “The Red Book of Carl G. Jung: Its Origins and Influence,” on view June 17 through Sept. 25, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, in the Thomas Jefferson Building, located at 10 First Street, S.E., Washington, D.C., and online at myLOC.gov.
In conjunction with the exhibition, a public symposium was held at the Library of Congress on June 19, 2010, featuring top Jungian scholars. A webcast of the event is available at www.loc.gov/webcasts/.
The Library’s Jung exhibition and symposium were made possible by support from the James Madison Council, the Library’s private-sector advisory group; the Oswald Family Foundation; the honorable J. Richard Fredericks; the Embassy of Switzerland, Washington, D.C. ; the Jung Society of Washington; the Philemon Foundation; the Archives for Research in Archetypal Symbolism; the International Association for Analytical Psychology; the C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco; W.W. Norton and Company Inc.; the Hon. Joseph B. Gildenhorn; and the Jungian Analysts of Washington Association.
Nearly a century after its creation, Carl Jung’s “Red Book” has been brought from the Foundation of the Works of C.G. Jung to the United States to be displayed in New York, Los Angeles and at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
Created between 1914 and 1930, the 205-page richly illustrated manuscript—in the author’s own hand—had been locked in a vault after Jung’s death in 1961. It was displayed in the Rubin Museum of Art in New York last fall and winter, in the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles in the spring and is at the Library of Congress this summer in Washington, D.C.
“The Library’s ‘Red Book’ exhibition is quite different from the others,” said Exhibition Director Martha Hopkins of the Library’s Interpretive Programs Office. “With the exception of ‘The Red Book’ and one letter, all of the items are from the Library’s collections.”
“There are approximately 2,000 Jung-related items across the Library’s collections,” said James Hutson, chief of the Manuscript Division and curator of the exhibition.
“The Red Book” was the product of a technique developed by Jung, which he termed “active imagination.” Of the work, Jung said, “The years … when I pursued the inner images, were the most important time of my life … 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.”
The material in “The Red Book” came from Jung’s exploration of his unconscious and his encounters with the works of many cultural figures such as British poet and painter William Blake (1757-1827). Jung maintained that the experiences described in the book were the foundations of the distinctive theories of his analytic psychology, saying, “All of my works, all my creative activity, has come from those initial fantasies and dreams, which began in 1912.”
That year marked Jung’s professional break with psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), who had been his close collaborator. What followed was “a period of creative illness,” during which Jung made his most important contributions to psychology by putting forth his theories of archetypes, the collective unconscious common to all human beings and individuation (self-awareness).
The Library’s exhibition puts “The Red Book” in context by displaying with it selected items from the Library’s rich collections that complement the work. They reveal biographical information about Jung, the influences on him at the time of the book’s creation, and the influence on 20th-century culture of the theories Jung began to develop while writing the book.
Drawn from a number of Library divisions, items on display include first editions of many of Jung’s most important publications; page proofs, annotated by Jung, of the English edition of his autobiography; photographs of Jung at various ages; rare alchemy books that influenced Jung; a Tibetan mandala; and original hand-colored illustrations by William Blake.
Items on display from the Library’s papers of the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), include correspondence between Jung and Freud that reveals the differences that led to their estrangement. (The Freud papers were given to the Library of Congress by the Sigmund Freud Archives between 1952 and 2001.)
Jung’s influence on 20th-century art and culture is seen in the works of such artists as Italian film director Federico Fellini, Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges and American choreographer Martha Graham. Jung’s impact on popular culture, such as the film “Star Wars,” is seen through the archetypal characters of hero Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, wise man Obi-Wan Kenobi and antagonist Darth Vader, to name a few.
While the original “Red Book” is displayed under protective glass, facsimiles published by W.W. Norton in October 2009 with permission from Jung’s heirs can be perused by visitors to the exhibition. Edited by distinguished Jung scholar Sonu Shamdasani of the Wellcome Trust Centre of University College in London, the enormously popular facsimile of “The Red Book” is in its sixth printing.
“Jung was decidedly not psychotic,” said Shamdasani, who spoke at a symposium held at the Library on June 19 to explore “The Red Book” and its creator (see story on page 154).
According to Shamdasani, Jung lost his way at one point in his life but worked through it—in part through his creation of “The Red Book”—and in the process founded a method of psychoanalysis that could help others.