The Publication of Liber Novus:
While Jung had stopped working directly on Liber Novus, the question of what to do with it remained, and the issue of its
eventual publication remained open.
On April 10, 1942, Jung replied to Mary Mellon concerning a printing of the Sermones:
“Concerning the printing of the ‘Seven Sermones’ I should wish you to wait for a while. I had in mind to add certain material,
but I have hesitated for years to do it. But at such an occasion one might risk it.”
In 1944, he had a major heart attack and did not see this plan through. In 1952,
Lucy Heyer put forward a project for a biography of Jung.
At Olga Froebe’s suggestion and on Jung’s insistence, Cary Baynes began collaborating with Lucy Heyer on this project.
Cary Baynes considered writing a biography of Jung based on Liber Novus.
To Jung’s disappointment, she withdrew from the project.
After several years of interviews with Lucy Heyer, Jung terminated her biographical project in 1955, because he was dissatisfied with her progress.
In 1956, Kurt Wolff proposed another biographical project, which became Memories, Dreams, Reflections.
At some stage, Jung gave Aniela Jaffe a copy of the draft of Liber Novus, which had been made by Toni Wolff Jung authorized Jaffe to cite from Liber Novus and the Black Books in Memories, Dreams, Reflections.I
In his interviews with Aniela Jaffe, Jung discussed Liber Novus and his self-experimentation.
Unfortunately, she did not reproduce all his comments.
On October 31, 1957, she wrote to Jack Barrett of the Bollingen Foundation concerning Liber Novus, and informed him that Jung
had suggested that it and the Black Books be given to the library of the University of Basel with a restriction of 50 years, 80 years, or
longer, as “he hates the idea that anybody should read this material without knowing the relations to his life, etc.”
She added that she had decided not to use much of this material in Memories.
In one early manuscript of Memories, Jaffe had included a transcription of the draft typescript of most of Liber Primus.
But it was omitted from the final manuscript, and she did not cite from Liber Novus or the Black Books.
In the German edition of Memories, Jaffe included Jung’s epilogue to Liber Novus as an appendix.
Jung’s flexible date stipulations concerning access to Liber Novus were similar to that which he gave around the same time concerning
the publication of his correspondence with Freud.
On October 12, 1957, Jung told Jaffe that he had never finished the Red Book.
According to Jaffe, in the spring of the year 1959 Jung, after a time of lengthy ill-health, took up Liber Novus again, to complete the last remaining unfinished image.
Once again, he took up the transcription of the manuscript into the calligraphic volume.
Jaffe notes, “However, he still could not or would not, complete it. He told me that it had to do with death.”
The calligraphic transcription breaks off midsentence, and Jung added an afterword, which also broke off midsentence.
The postscript and Jung’s discussions of its donation to an archive suggest that Jung was aware that the work would eventually be studied at
After Jung’s death, Liber Novus remained with his family, in accordance with his will.
In her 1971 Eranos lecture, “The creative phases in Jung’s life,” Jaffe cited two passages from the draft of Liber Novus, noting that
“Jung placed a copy of the manuscript at my disposal with permission to quote from it as occasion arose.”
This was the only time she did so. Pictures from Liber Novus were also shown in a BBC documentary on Jung narrated by Laurens van der Post in 1972.
These created widespread interest in it.
In 1975, after the much acclaimed publication of the Freud/Jung Letters, William McGuire, representing Princeton University Press, wrote to the lawyer of the Jung estate, Hans Karrer, with a publication proposal for Liber Novus and a collection of photographs of Jung’s stone carvings, paintings, and the tower.
He proposed a facsimile edition, possibly without the text.
He wrote that “we are uninformed of the, number of its pages, the relative amount of text and pictures, and the content and interest of the text.”
No one in the press had actually seen or read the work or knew much about it.
This request was denied.
In 1975, some reproductions from the calligraphic volume of Liber Novus were displayed at an exhibition commemorating Jung’s centenary in Zurich.
In 1977, nine paintings from Liber Novus were published by Jaffe in C. G. Jung: Word and Image and in 1989 a few other related paintings were published by Gerhard Wehr in his illustrated biography of Jung.
In 1984, Liber Novus was professionally photographed, and five facsimile editions were prepared.
These were given to the five families directly descendent from Jung.
In 1992, Jung’s family, who had supported the publication of Jung’s Collected Works in German (completed in 1995), commenced an examination of Jung’s unpublished materials.
As a result of my researches, I found one transcription and a partial transcription of Liber Novus and presented them to the Jung heirs in 1997- Around the same time, another transcription was presented to the heirs by Marie-Louise von Franz.
I was invited to present reports on the subject and its suitability for publication, and made a presentation on the subject.
On the basis of these reports and discussions, the heirs decided in May 2000 to release the work for publication.
The work on Liber Novus was at the center of Jung’s self-experimentation.
It is nothing less than the central book in his oeuvre.
With its publication, one is now in a position to study what took place there on the basis of primary documentation as opposed to the fantasy, gossip, and speculation that makes up too much of what is written on Jung, and to grasp the genesis and constitution of Jung’s later work.
For nearly a century, such a reading has simply not been possible, and the vast literature on Jung’s life and work that has arisen has lacked access to the single most important documentary source.
This publication marks a caesura, and opens the possibility of a new era in the understanding of Jung’s work.
It provides a unique window into how he recovered his soul and, in so doing, constituted a psychology.
Thus this introduction does not end with a conclusion, but with the promise of a new beginning. ~The Red Book, Introduction, Publication of Liber Novus, Pages 220-221.