The Red Book at the NY Times

C.G. Jung's Red Book

The Holy Grail of the Unconscious

By SARA CORBETT
Published: September 16, 2009
© New York Times 2009.

This is a story about a nearly 100-year-old book, bound in red leather, which has spent the last quarter century secreted away in a bank vault in Switzerland. The book is big and heavy and its spine is etched with gold letters that say “Liber Novus,” which is Latin for “New Book.” Its pages are made from thick cream-colored parchment and filled with paintings of otherworldly creatures and handwritten dialogues with gods and devils. If you didn’t know the book’s vintage, you might confuse it for a lost medieval tome.
. . . What he wrote did not belong to his previous canon of dispassionate, academic essays on psychiatry. Nor was it a straightforward diary. It did not mention his wife, or his children, or his colleagues, nor for that matter did it use any psychiatric language at all. Instead, the book was a kind of phantasmagoric morality play, driven by Jung’s own wish not just to chart a course out of the mangrove swamp of his inner world but also to take some of its riches with him. It was this last part — the idea that a person might move beneficially between the poles of the rational and irrational, the light and the dark, the conscious and the unconscious — that provided the germ for his later work and for what analytical psychology would become. . . .

Red Book Illustration
Photographs by Thomas Hannich.

The article, The Holy Grail of the Unconscious, appears in the New York Times Magazine, Sept. 16, 2009. The exact URL for the article and the illustrations is http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/20/magazine/20jung-t.html?ref=magazine