Interview with Sonu Shamdasani, editor of The Red Book

Harper’s Weekly
October 19, 2009

What the text presents is a series of fantasies in which dramatic dialogues occur. Jung enters into discussion with the figures that emerge, and then attempts to draw lessons from their exchange. He viewed these characters as different aspects of his personality. The text describes his attempt to recognise and come to terms with these aspects through differentiating the voices, and eventually to integrate them…

Although he eventually decided not to publish it during his lifetime, the unfinished epilogue he added to it clearly indicates that he expected it to be read by others. In this, he wrote:

I worked on this book for 16 years. My acquaintance with alchemy in 1930 took me away from it. The beginning of the end came in 1928, when Wilhelm sent me the text of the “Golden Flower,” an alchemical treatise. There the contents of this book found their way into actuality and I could no longer continue working on it. To the superficial observer, it will appear like madness. It would also have developed into one, had I not been able to absorb the overpowering force of the original experiences. With the help of alchemy, I could finally arrange them into a whole. I always knew that these experiences contained something precious, and therefore I knew of nothing better than to write them down in a “precious,” that is to say costly book and to paint the images that emerged through reliving it all—as well as I could. I knew how frightfully inadequate this undertaking was, but despite much work and many distractions I remained true to it, even if another possibility never …(more)

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