The Red Book by Carl Jung


This month is a major one in book publishing as Carl Jung’s magnum opus The Red Book, or Liber Novus, which has remained unpublished for 80 years, is issued in a facsimile edition. Selections of pages have been turning up in reviews and online previews which easily whet the appetite.

In his late 30s, Jung started writing a book called The Red Book. The Red Book is part journal, part mythological novel that takes the reader through Jung’s fantasies — hallucinations he self-induced to try and get to the core of his unconscious. … The book detailed an unabashedly psychedelic voyage through his own mind, a vaguely Homeric progression of encounters with strange people taking place in a curious, shifting dreamscape. Writing in German, he filled 205 oversize pages with elaborate calligraphy and with richly hued, staggeringly detailed paintings. (More.)

Jung maintained a lifelong fascination with alchemical symbolism and many of these pages resemble the kind of plates one finds in alchemical treatises such as the Splendor Solis, if that book had also contained additions from William Blake and Hildegard von Bingen. The only drawback is the price: at £120 this isn’t a casual purchase, but then this is over 400 pages of full-colour at a big size, 45.7 x 30.5 x 5.1 cm. Time to start petitioning rich relatives for Christmas.

The Holy Grail of the Unconscious

Previously on { feuilleton }
The art of Julien Champagne, 1877–1932
Digital alchemy
In the Shadow of the Sun by Derek Jarman

7 thoughts on “The Red Book by Carl Jung”

  1. Perhaps, as it’s the same numerical price on the american amazon (?!), it would be most effective to petition one’s yankee relations.

  2. ****! I’d been looking forward to this, but at that price – forget it. I’ll wait a few years for the inevitable ‘cheap’ softcover.

  3. Yes, same here, why decent books covering mystical themes always seem to be published with outlandish monetary gain in mind, seems somewhat contradictary to me.

    My favorite of the paintings so far, was on the NYtimes article, regarding a warrior fighting a dragon-like beast with 20 or so arms.
    I’ve greatly liked what little I’ve read of Jung, so it saddens me greatly that this book will be so damn expensive.

  4. Wiley, I’m not sure how you expect them to get a facsimile edition – reproducing multi-color paintings and handwritten calligraphy – without paying the artists? The book had to be scanned by hand.

  5. The price will be determined by basic production costs before anything. This is a big book with colour reproduction on what I’d guess would be quality paper stock, similar to those deluxe Taschen volumes and the Lovecraft art book which published my work last year. Even if you get the printing done in China–which is where most colour books are now printed–it’s a considerable expense. Jung is world famous but not everyone who knows his name wants a book as esoteric as this so Norton wouldn’t have the option of a big print run which can be sold at a reasonable price. Norton generally produce books at the academic end of the publishing spectrum and I imagine most of the initial run of this will be sold to university libraries. I’d also imagine they’ll be doing a paperback version at some point. This is an important work, it’ll be in print for a long time.

  6. Thank you John. While it still doesn’t make me happy, the price makes a bit more sense to me now.

  7. Got it, love it! Currently reading. Thank you to his family for allowing publication of The Red Book. :-)

Comments are closed.

Discover more from { feuilleton }

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading