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Emma Rauschenbach, a very wealthy Swiss heiress, was only 17 when Carl Jung, a far from well-off doctor of the insane from a peasant background, first proposed to her. Emma's father was suffering hideously from the syphilis which would eventually kill him, and her mother, ashamed of this dark family secret, encouraged her in the match. Their truly labyrinthine marriage lasted 52 years and weathered Carl's many affairs as well as a 30-year menage-a-trois with the overbearing Toni Wolff who was required by Jung as his 'anima' and suffered by Emma for his sake. Emma bore five children and then retired to another bedroom dreading yet another 'little blessing'; pursued her own research on The Holy Grail in particular; maintained her friendship with Sigmund Freud after he and Jung fell out, and eventually became a highly respected psychoanalyst in her own right. That's some achievement!
Carl Jung was not the easiest of men, apart from his need for other women and his habit of going off on long travels on his own leaving Emma alone with her new-borns. Jung was two personalities. There was the kind, tender Carl whom Emma had grown to love, and there was 'personality number 2' who was rude, neurotic and callous. Personality 1 could tell delightful funny stories to his children; personality 2 could flip in a moment into a destructive and hurtful rage. In truth, Jung was no less disturbed than his patients, but this enabled him to pursue the psychoanalysis.
The strength of Catrine Clay's book is that she explores Emma and Carl as individual private people as well as the main tenets of Jung's theories on the interpretation of dreams, the subconscious and the animus and so on - all those elements which formed the bed rock of the new science of psychoanalysis. The whole is full of detail written with admirable clarity and apparent simplicity. The relationship between the two in all its complexities is fascinating, and Jung's despair at her death deeply moving.
The narrator has a very pleasant voice and the depths of Emma's feelings are conveyed with sensitivity. I gave her 4 instead of 5 only because when she quotes from letters or lectures of men, she adopts a 'male' voice which can sound merely like a woman trying to sound like a man. It would be better not to try!
This is a fascinating study and makes a very interesting companion to Jung's 'Memories, Dreams and Reflections' which I reviewed in June of this year.
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A great book that is abundant in information about the great relationships going on in the Jungian world at this time.
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