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Reading The Red Book: An Interpretive Guide to C.G. Jung's Liber Novus [Paperback]

Sanford L. Drob
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

19 Jun 2012
The long-awaited publication of C.G. Jung's Red Book in October, 2009 was a signal event in the history of analytical psychology. Hailed as the most important work in Jung's entire corpus, it is as enigmatic as it is profound. Reading The Red Book by Sanford L. Drob provides a clear and comprehensive guide to The Red Book's narrative and thematic content, and details The Red Book's significance, not only for psychology but for the history of ideas.

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Reading The Red Book: An Interpretive Guide to C.G. Jung's Liber Novus + The Red Book: A Reader's Edition (Philemon) + Lament of the Dead: Psychology After Jung's Red Book
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Product details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Spring Journal, Inc. (19 Jun 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935528378
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935528371
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 91,796 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent companion 8 Mar 2013
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For anyone who has a copy of Jung's remarkable Red Book, which is so large and heavy that any exploration of its inner meaning with reference to the text and illustrations is very problematic, this is a very penetrating study, with enough objectivity to mak it valuable and not "worshipping". It should be counted amogst the very valuable Jung studies.
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54 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent. A compensatory dream for contemporary psychology. 29 Sep 2012
By David H. Peterzell PhD PhD - Published on
I'm really enjoying this new book from my colleague at Fielding Graduate University. In the past, I've thumbed through the pages of Jung's Red Book and been both puzzled and amused by the tangled and oddly beautiful work that I found. Although I've dabbled a bit in Jung's work over the years, I don't think I understood much about the Red Book, from my perspectives as a clinical and cognitive-perceptual-developmental-neuro-scientist (puzzled), or as an integrative psychologist (amused).

Drob's book provides a schema for understanding and interpreting the Red Book, or at least the written part of the book. And while this schema links the Red Book to other works of Jung, Drob has shown that The Red Book may have considerable relevance for contemporary psychology. The book, according to the author, is psychology's "compensatory dream," ripe with important messages for contemporary psychologists. Our current field, with its focus not just on science but scientism, often ignores and even dismisses its philosophical, literary, spiritual origin. (Note: For other compelling challenges scientism, see the recent work of John Smythies, another author I recommend highly. See, e.g., Smythies' short essay The Fight For Truth.)

After reading the preface and introduction, I skipped to the last chapter, titled "The Red Book and Contemporary Psychology," and found gold. Now I'm gradually going through the Red Book again, with Drob's insightful Interpretive Guide in hand.

Here are a few essential quotes from the last chapter, which have helped motivate me to take a deeper look at Jung's Red Book, and Drob's Interpretive Guide:

"...Jung often spoke of dreams as compensating for a one-sided conscious standpoint... What conscious attitude on the part of psychology does The Red Book challenge or serve as a compensation for? To answer this question, we need to think in rather broad historical manner about the developments in psychology since Jung's death in 1961. In the past 50 years psychology has become increasingly scientized, far more so than in Jung's own time, and the practice of both psychiatric and psychotherapeutic treatment has become increasingly medicalized ... What Jung, in the Red Book, refered to as the "spirit of this time" (the scientific, hyper-rational mode of thinking) is, within the discipline of psychology, gaining a stranglehold on the academy and profession."

"The Red Book's compensatory message, however, is that while the pursuit of rational, scientific psychology is important and justified, it risks leaving out other of psyche's voices that must be heard. This point, made discursively in Psychological Types, is made narratively, artistically, and experientially in The Red Book. Jung's idea is that our quest to attain a full perspective on the psyche or soul must be initiatedd from positions that are not only rational and scientific, but also experiential, intuitive, and imaginative, and, in short, inclusive of the whole man. A psychologist, one might be inclined to say, must not only pursue psychological knowledge, but must also be open to the lived experience, imaginative possibilities, and artistic and spiritual pursuits that complement and give live to that knowledge. This not only means that psychology should reopen its boundaries to other disciplines, including those that are artistic and literary, but that it should also consider the possibility that things of great significance can be better or only expressed in modalities such as music, art, and literature that are neither scientific nor rational in the narrow sense of the term. Jung's use of mandalas and other paintings as a vehicle for achieving and expressing "wholeness" is a case in point."

"Indeed, Liber Novas might be a virtual nightmare for the new and growing field of "positive psychology."

"The Red Book, like some prehistoric insect preserved in amber, has the power to strike us as virtually "new," and perhaps for this reason, shake us from our routinized ways of thinking and living."


David Peterzell,
Fielding Graduate University, UC-San Diego, and Center for Integrative Psychology
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Explaining the excellent but complex Red Book 15 July 2013
By Roberto Lima Netto - Published on
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Jung's Red Book is a superb work of a genius. In it Jung records his discussions with the "daemons" that live inside his soul, inside his unconscious. But, as all his writings, it is complex. In fact, it is more that complex; it is extremely difficult to understand.
Sanford Drob does a magisterial work in explaining Jung's ideas. And he organize his work by discussing the pages of the book, and allowing us a glimpse of what was in Jung's mind at the time he wrote the book.
Drob starts with the prologue, goes through books Primus and Secundus, and finishes with a chapter discussing the impact of the Red Book Contemporary psychology.
If you want to understand the ideas Jung developed in the Red Book, I highly recommend you start reading Drob's book. It will allow you to understand Jung's powerful insights that was the germ of all his future work.

I'm Roberto Lima Netto, a Jungian. I write Jungian books - The Jungian Bible, The Little Prince for Grownups -- and Psychological thrillers - The Amazon Shaman, - In Search Of Happiness.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good discussion and interpretation 27 Jun 2014
By Ronald Richards - Published on
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Clear discussion and interpretative approach to Jung's writing. Having read others, I found this one to be superior due to a cleaner approach and dialogue which made it easier to follow and understand. Drob also proposes discussion questions based on Jung's positions, making this a valuable resource for discussion groups.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reading The Red Book 21 Mar 2014
By jay nefcy - Published on
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Jung's Red Book is difficult for a non German reader.
Drob's book helps a lot. Academic, heavy notation, but necessary to understand Jung's ideas.
9 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good analysis and opinions 24 Jan 2013
By seeker - Published on
Verified Purchase
allows one to go to main themes of the red book with a view of how one can begin to contemplate the psychological views of jung
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