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A LIFE OF JUNG by Ronald Hayman Kirkus Star


by Ronald Hayman

Pub Date: April 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-393-01967-5
Publisher: Norton

A polished, highly professional biography of Jung that covers all the personal and intellectual bases, as well as demystifying his more rarified theories, from Hayman (Thomas Mann, 1995, etc.).

Although this is very much a linear biography, the author works the neat trick of bringing the older Jung to bear as self-analyst on his youthful self. Working from both Jung’s bulky correspondence and his scholarly writings (particularly Memories, Dreams, and Reflections), Hayman works up through Jung’s difficult childhood years, his important association with Freud, and onward to his independent work on myth and the collective unconscious. Jung’s intellectual substance is ably conveyed and given new context, with his letters (many of them here published for the first time) used by the author to help reveal the genesis of Jung’s ideas. Certainly, Jung’s work on symbols and myth, the stories at the root of our consciousness, primordial images and archetypes, synchronicity, and the role of amplification in interpretation make fascinating reading, but what feels so vital here is the delineation of Jung’s milieu at home and abroad. There he is in Munich, squabbling over psychoanalytic bragging rights with the Viennese School as the National Socialists rise to power; there are his lovers, who somehow never compromised the rock of his domestic life; and there is his voracious appetite for theological discussion. It is a very well-choreographed piece, as Hayman sets the stage, dives into the fray (where colossal personalities were vying over the human psyche), then surfaces again to remind readers that Jung was a fellow with his own set of foibles, missteps, and crazy notions (check out some of Jung’s sentiments on Judaism).

Likely to become the standard biography of the revolutionary psychoanalyst. (16 pp. photos, not seen)