Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung (1875–1961) created the Red Book, an account of what he called his “confrontation with the unconscious” in the first decades of the twentieth century. The Red Book contains the raw material from which Jung refined his distinctive theories and concepts. Until the publication of a facsimile edition of the Red Book, edited by Professor Sonu Shamdasani, in 2009, its remarkable contents were known to only a handful of Jung’s closest friends and family members.
For a brief time at the beginning of the twentieth century, Jung was a younger colleague of the analyst Sigmund Freud (1856–1939). After their break in 1912, Jung confronted what he called the “assaults of the unconscious” that flooded his imagination with strange and frightful fantasies and visions. By engaging them, he quieted their influence on his own mind and gained precious knowledge about the nature of the human mind and mental states. Jung described these experiences in his Red Book, which he composed in the style of an illuminated medieval manuscript with elegant calligraphy and vivid sketches.
This exhibition puts the Red Book in context by displaying it with a small sample of items related to Jung selected from the rich collections of the Library of Congress. Chosen to complement the Red Book, they reveal biographical information about Jung; the influences on him at the time of the book's creation and after; and his influence on twentieth-century art and culture.
"The years . . . when I pursued the inner images, were the most important time of my life. Everything else is to be derived from this. . . . Everything later was merely the outer classification, the scientific elaboration, and the integration into life. But the numinous beginning, which contained everything, was then."
C. G. Jung, “Protocols” for Memories, Dreams, Reflections, 1958