Thursday, 24 October 2013

Accessing C. G. Jung 2. Jung's writing

On the Nature of the Psyche resting on The Red Book
I often take On the Nature of the Psyche to read on journeys, as it my favorite of all Jung's works, but I never take the The Red Book. In fact, the latter does not even fit on my desk and I have to read it at the kitchen table. If you order the latter, free shipping is an obvious bonus! It is the largest book that I own and I had to adjust the height of a bookshelf to accommodate it. The story of the publication of The Red Book makes fascinating reading, and you can also listen to a series of eighteen audio lectures on 'Jung and The Red Book: Liber Novus', presented by Lance Owens MD. and watch a four hour web seminar: "The Red Book of C. G. Jung - Its Meaning for Our Age" presented by Dr. Stephan A. Hoeller to a conference of the Theosophical Society in America on November 20th, 2010. This gives you an idea of the importance of this work.

However, I would not recommend either The Red Book or On the Nature of the Psyche as your first introduction to the writing of C. G. Jung. Instead, I have chosen two works that I feel are the perfect introduction to Jung's psychology. Which one you read first is up to you -- get them both and then decide.

The first is The Portable Jung (Portable Library). It is edited by Joseph Campbell, and his sixteen page Editor's Introduction is essential reading before you delve into its contents. He starts:
"The first task, on approaching such a mobile model of the living psyche as Carl G. Jung's, must be to become familiar as quickly as possible with its variables. To this end I have opened this anthology with papers introducing the elementary terms and themes of Jung's Psychology. Once acquainted with these, the reader will be prepared to range at will through The Collected Works; and my second aim, consequently, has been to provide a usable guide to that treasury of learning. For Jung was not only a medical man but a scholar in the grand style, whose researches, particularly in comparative mythology, alchemy, and the psychology of religion, have inspired and augmented the findings of an astonishing number of the leading creative scholars of our time."
For those of you who commonly skip introductions, I must say that Joseph Campbell's introduction, which includes a biography of Jung, is not only informative but is delightful reading. It could stand as a publication in its own right.

My second recommendation is Memories, Dreams, Reflections. The blurb at the link says it all.

One of the problems in buying Jung's works is that the papers selected by various editors for their volumes varies considerably so unless you only purchase his major works you will end up with a lot of duplication. Campbell's collection, with its introduction, is inexpensive and so well ordered that this should be of no concern in that respect, but the best way to avoid the problem for subsequent purchases is to focus on volumes of The Collected Works. Besides, they will look much more orderly on your bookshelves! The Wikipedia link also includes the other works that are not part of that series.

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