In November of 1913 C. G. Jung embarked upon an extraordinary imaginative journey; in later life he called it his “confrontation with the unconscious”.
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.
And yet between the book’s heavy covers, a very modern story unfolds. It goes as follows: Man skids into midlife and loses his soul. Man goes looking for soul. After a lot of instructive hardship and adventure — taking place entirely in his head — he finds it again.
For nearly a century the Red Book, Liber Novus, remained Jung’s hidden treasure. Only a handful of Jung’s most trusted students and colleagues were allowed to see it during his life; after his death in 1961, all requests for access to the volume were refused by his family. But now, after decades veiled in mystery, the Red Book has finally been released to the world in a magnificent facsimile edition. This singular visionary volume – a book that defies category or comparison – is the crux for any developed understanding of Jung’s psychological work.