The Red Book

C. G. Jung

The Red Book © book cover courtesy

The Red Book is a first-person chronicle of Carl Jung’s imaginal journeys using the process he came to call active imagination. In some ways as readable as a novel, this log of Jung’s encounters opens an extraordinary window onto the workings of the inner world.

For those who have read Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections and want to learn more about his Confrontation with the Unconscious, this book is a great place to go next. (For those unfamiliar with Jung’s work, Memories, Dreams, Reflections may provide a helpful orientation before reading The Red Book).

Additionally, readers who practice active imagination — particularly at the intermediate and advanced levels — will find much here that is helpful and validating. Jung has blazed some arduous trails, and the ability to witness his process may be enlightening for those who follow in his footsteps.

To be clear, Jung describes some uncomfortable territories here. This stands to reason; our unconscious minds encompass the full range of human impulses and capacities, our shadow and our light. Jung’s ability to communicate these very personal, sometimes confusing encounters makes The Red Book all the more remarkable.

There are two editions of The Red Book: the full, hardcover edition and the Reader’s Edition. The full, hardcover edition of The Red Book contains all of Jung’s vibrant illustrations. It is a large book (approx. 12 x 16 inches), having the effect of a true deep dive into Jung’s experience — but it is not really convenient for reading on a bus or in bed. As an alternative to the larger, full edition, The Red Book: A Reader’s Edition is a convenient size for reading (approx. 5.5 x 8.5 inches). This soft-bound edition contains the full text of Jung’s Liber Novus/Red Book, but does not include Jung’s illustrations.