Jung’s Lecture on Gérard de Nerval

Jung’s 1945 lecture on Aurélia by the French Romantic poet, Gérard de Nerval, published for the first time, here with a translation of the text of Aurélia and with notes and annotations.

Gerard de Nerval

Nerval, portrait by Nadar, 1855

Gérard de Nerval explored the irrational with lucidity and exquisite craft. Like Novalis and Goethe, he rejected the rationalist universalism of the philosophes and privileged instead the individual subjective imagination as a way of descending in order to fathom the divine and to reconnect with what the Romantics called the life principle. During the period of his greatest creativity, he suffered from madness and was institutionalized eight times. He wrote Aurélia at the request of Dr. Emile Blanche, in an ambivalent attempt to emerge from these psychotic episodes.

In his lecture, delivered at the Psychological Club of Zürich at the end of the war in 1945 and after a long personal illness, Jung introduced his listeners to the extraordinary importance of Nerval’s text. Contrasting a psychoanalytic interpretation with his synthetic approach to the unconscious, Jung explained why Nerval was not able to make use of his visionary experiences in his own life. At the same time, he emphasized the validity of Nerval’s visions, differentiating a psychology of a work of art separate from the psychology of the artist.

This first publication of Jung’s lecture on Nerval will provide historians, psychologists, and readers of The Red Book with a new key for understanding Jung’s argument about the importance of symbolism in modern thought. The volume includes Richard Sieburth’s award-winning translation of Nerval’s Aurélia and Alfred Kubin’s illustrations to the 1910 Müller edition of Aurélia in German.

Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford
Hardcover, publication date: November 2015

Translated by Gottwalt Pankow. Nerval’s Aurélia translated and annotated by Richard Siebirth. Jung’s lecture edited with an introduction by Craig E. Stephenson.

Gottwalt Pankow is a translator, the editor of Quod Libet editions (with texts by Doris Lessing, Gabriele Wohmann, Alberto Manguel, Luciano Canfora, Jan Philipp Reemtsma, and Georg Eyring), and an antiquarian book expert. Richard Sieburth teaches French and Comparative Literature at New York University. He has translated Friedrich Hölderlin, Walter Benjamin, Michel Leris, Antonin Artaud, and Maurice Scève.

A percentage of anything you purchase through the link below is donated back to the Philemon Foundation, at no additional cost to you.