Cover image for Jung : a biography
Jung : a biography
Bair, Deirdre.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Boston : Little, Brown, [2003]

Physical Description:
xiii, 881 pages, 32 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BF109.J8 B35 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Deirdre Bair has written about some of the most influential figures in 20th century culture-Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, and Anas Nin. Now she turns her expert eye to the one person whose teachings and writings are the most influential of all: psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung. The founder of analytical psychology, Jung became the first president of the International Psychoanalytic Association in 1910. Jung had a professional relationship with Sigmund Freud until he broke with the elder father of psychoanalysis over his emphasis on infantile sexuality and the Oedipus complex.As Freud's influence has waned over the years, Jung's ideas-the collective unconscious, the archetypal myths underpinning all societies, synchronicity, 'new age' spirituality, and much more-have achieved an overwhelming ascendancy.Bair addresses the myths about Jung-accusations that he was an anti-Semite and a misogynist, and that he falsified data-with evidence from his own writings and from those of his colleagues and former patients. The result is a groundbreaking and accessible work that promises to be the definitive life of Carl Jung.

Author Notes

Deirdre Bair received the National Book Award for Samuel Beckett: A Biography. She has been a literary journalist and university professor of comparative literature. Her biographies of Anais Nin and Simone de Beauvoir were also prize finalists, and she was awarded fellowships from (among others) the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations and the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College. She divides her time between New York and Connecticut

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Shortly after the death of Carl Jung in 1961, lightning struck a tree beneath which he had often practiced his analytical psychology. In a biography that maintains the excellence she has achieved in previous works on Beckett, Nin, and de Beauvoir, Bair recounts the life of the famous analyst whose career provoked so much controversy that one of his contemporaries regarded the lightning bolt as its only natural postscript. Predictably, Bair focuses on Jung's stormy parting from his famous mentor, Sigmund Freud, her detailed chronicle exposing the collision of two authoritarian personalities as well as the theoretical divergence of two speculative thinkers. Bair also probes Jung's much-disputed relationship with the Nazis, ultimately clearing Jung of the charge of anti-Semitism but documenting episodes of deplorable recklessness in the years Jung crusaded for a distinctly German psychotherapy. Deftly integrating her theoretical exposition into narrative glosses on Jung's motives, Bair shows how Jung projected his own gender ideals onto female patients; how he allowed his obsession with collective archetypes to smother his interest in individual patients; and how he first attracted, then alienated, disciples with his bizarre fusion of alchemy, religion, and psychology. A capacious portrait of an enigmatic pioneer. --Bryce Christensen Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Jung's shade would be content with Bair's biography, which in bulk and detail suggests that there is little more to say. Lucid and persuasive, the National Book Award-winning biographer of Beckett strikes a balance between damage control and deification, for Jung's ambition, arrogance and lack of generosity tend now to obscure his originality as a thinker and his impact on theories about why we dream and how we think. While Bair provides perhaps more about almost every aspect of his youth, maturity, rivalries, renown and old age than we care to know, it takes an author's note and two long endnotes to realize how much censorship the Jung heirs still insist upon. Bair was, for example, denied access to the diaries of Jung and his mother, which were deemed "too private," and to the thousand letters between Jung and his devoted (yet mistreated) wife. Even so, through interviews, published documentation and the papers released to her, Bair has evoked the man in all his cynical self-interest, opportunism, moral ambiguity, paradoxical insecurity and charismatic hold on decades of disciples. How much a purported Swiss temperament of suspicion, exclusiveness and obsession with ancestral status influenced Jung's development is a fascinating thread winding through Bair's narrative, affecting his personal and professional relations. Freud, father figure and then foe, comes off badly as ambitious, arrogant, single-minded and vengeful. Bair's Jung is no saint, but he is less unpleasant and exploitative here than as portrayed in Frank McLynn's 1997 biography. The large hole in this large book is not biographical. Jung's significance has much to do with his theories of archetypes and the related power of the collective unconscious. One finishes the book without much explanation of either. 32 pages of b&w photos. (Nov. 13) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

By their choice of occupation, psychologists become fair game for biographers, but not many subjects hold the fascination of Carl Jung. Bair (Samuel Beckett: A Biography, winner of the National Book Award) tackles the Swiss founder of analytical psychology who began as a Freud acolyte before breaking away and developing a professional and general audience for his work on psychological types, myth, symbols, and synchronicity, among other things. Her well-crafted narrative integrates life and work, though the latter predominates. Jung's following included celebrities and students, though he often behaved badly. Of course, he was brilliant, but he was also "half-mad," a virtual bigamist, an absentee father, and a hothead. His leadership of a Nazi-sponsored psychology group created a furor; those who fault Jung on this point-and on his womanizing and irregular modes of therapy-will consider Bair an apologist. To her, he was politically na?ve, culturally embedded, and prone to poor judgment. Her abundant and vivid detail (supplemented with 200 pages of notes) allows readers to appraise the force and foibles of a peculiar, phenomenal man. This massive and masterful treatment of Jung balances other, more contentious writing about him and will long be the definitive biography. For all libraries.-E. James Lieberman, George Washington Univ. Sch. of Medicine, Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Bair provides a compelling look at one of the most misunderstood and, perhaps, brilliant psychologists of all time. Not only did Jung capture the spirit of the time in which he developed his ideas, he also synthesized human culture and history and anticipated the future. Both of these emphases--the past and the future--are beautifully addressed by Bair. Jung's psychology, his life, and his place in history are mysterious and difficult to understand. Bair captures the Zeitgeist surrounding Jung, describes the multitude of influences that he integrated in his thinking, and articulates the many ways in which Jung's ideas are coming to be better understood and more fully appreciated. By helping readers understand the significant individuals in Jung's world, Bair provides insight to his theories and the personal and professional challenges that defined his life. Although enhancing understanding of Jung's theories was surely not Bair's primary goal, her articulation of the man's life succeeds in doing just that. ^BSumming Up: Essential. All collections serving readers who truly want to understand Jung and the eclectic nature of his ideas. R. E. Osborne Texas State University--San Marcos

Table of Contents

Author's Notep. ix
Introduction: Faint Clews and Indirectionsp. 3
1 How the Jungs Became Swissp. 7
2 "Pastor's Carl"p. 19
3 Unconventional Possibilitiesp. 39
4 Unadmitted Doubt, Unadmitted Worryp. 55
5 "Timidly Proper with Women"p. 70
6 "Something Unconsciously Fateful ... Was Bound to Happen"p. 84
7 "Who Is the Boss in This Hospital?"p. 96
8 Divorce/Force, Choice/Painp. 108
9 Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderitp. 124
10 "... Like My Twin Brother"p. 135
11 Poetryp. 145
12 Americap. 160
13 The Solar Phallus Manp. 171
14 "The Family Philosopher"p. 191
15 "Unsuited to the Position"p. 201
16 The Kreuzlingen Gesturep. 217
17 "My Self/Myself"p. 241
18 "Psychologically Minded" Personsp. 255
19 "The Work of a Snob and a Mystic"p. 274
20 A Prelude and Starting Pointsp. 290
21 The Second Half of Lifep. 298
22 Bollingenp. 316
23 "This Analytical Powder Magazine"p. 330
24 The Bugishu Psychological Expeditionp. 341
25 "Professor" Jungp. 358
26 Unconventional Analytic Hoursp. 376
27 "Dangerously Famous"p. 401
28 A "Pretty Grueling Time"p. 411
29 Falling Afoul of Historyp. 431
30 Rooted in Our Soilp. 464
31 Agent 488p. 481
32 The Visions of 1944p. 496
33 "Carl Jung, re: Subversive Activities"p. 503
34 The Jungian Universityp. 524
35 "Why Men Had to Quarrel and Leave"p. 535
36 "The Memory of a Vanishing World"p. 557
37 Gathering Jung for the Futurep. 575
38 "I Am as I Am, an Ungrateful Autobiographer!"p. 585
39 "The Icy Stillness of Death"p. 618
Epilogue: The "So-called Autobiography"p. 626
Appendix The Honegger Papersp. 641
Notesp. 649
Acknowledgmentsp. 853
Indexp. 857