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The story of Emma and Carl Jung's highly unconventional marriage, their relationship with Freud, and their part in the early years of Psychoanalysis.
Emma Jung was clever, ambitious and immensely wealthy, one of the richest heiresses in Switzerland when, aged seventeen, she met and fell in love with Carl Jung, a handsome, penniless medical student. Determined to share his adventurous life, and to continue her own studies, she was too young to understand Carl’s complex personality or conceive the dramas that lay ahead.
Labyrinths tells the story of the Jungs’ unconventional marriage, their friendship and, following publication of Jung’s The Psychology of the Unconscious, subsequent rift with Freud. It traces Jung’s development of word association, notions of the archetype, the collective unconscious, the concepts of extraversion and introversion and the role played by both Carl and Emma in the early development of the scandalous new Psychoanalysis movement.
In its many twists and turns, the Jung marriage was indeed labyrinthine and Emma was forced to fight with everything she had to come to terms with Carl’s brilliant, complex character and to keep her husband close to her. His belief in polygamy led to many extra-marital affairs including a menage a trois with a former patient Toni Wolff that lasted some thirty years. But the marriage endured and Emma realised her ambition to become a noted analyst in her own right.
‘Clay navigates the maze-like story with perspicacity and ease … It's a gripping story of two talented individuals, their fascinating, often troubled, but ultimately enduring partnership, and how together they shaped the brave new world of psychoanalysis’ Observer
‘Clay remains a clear, unostentatious narrator … Emma's voice – as well as her insight and daring – is loud and clear … admirable’ Daily Telegraph
‘Clay's book is a warm-hearted tribute to Emma's wisdom and tenacity’ Sunday Times
‘Labyrinths finally gives a voice to Emma … Clay's story is riveting because the patients’ stories are so gripping … Clay creates a wonderful atmosphere in her writing and … negotiates the labyrinth with aplomb’ The Times
‘Catrine Clay's absorbing new biography charts the twists and turns in some of the key lives involved in that historical moment, in particular those of Emma Jung and her more famous husband Carl’ Financial Times
‘Engaging … acute … For Clay, Emma Jung's quiet growth to dominance over the psychoanalytic establishment her husband had constructed seems the more significant’ Literary Review
‘This book will fascinate you’ Psychologies magazine
About the author
Catrine Clay was a director and producer of documentaries at the BBC for 20 years, the last 10 years for Timewatch, the major BBC2 strand in the History Unit. She won the International Documentary Award, the Golden Spire for Best History Documentary, and was nominated for BAFTA. She is the author of ‘King Kaiser Tsar’ and ‘Trautmann’s Journey’, which won the Best Sports Biography of the Year in the William Hill Sports Book Prize.
This book takes as its starting point the observation that although Carl Jung's ideas did much to shape our understanding of all that is interpersonal, his own most significant relationship has remained largely unexamined. Clay (King, Kaiser, Tsar), a BBC director and producer, suggests that Jung's wife, Emma, was the driving force behind her husband's renowned insights. Clay's narrative displays expert scholarship in drawing on a variety of archival sources, some never used before in a published study. However, her writing is most infused with the spirit of a storyteller, weaving a tale of love, despair, and the psyche in which, predictably, Sigmund Freud makes regular appearances. Such prioritization of story over the intricacies of each source might leave historically inclined readers unsatisfied. And inevitably, this kind of biography will, in spite of its insistent focus on a wife, at times veer more towards the famous husband. Indeed, the survival of Jung's diary allows his own voice to be directly present while Emma's is drawn from hearsay. But with its imagery and dramatic tenor, this is a tale within which Jung himself would find many psychoanalytic riches, even as it places some of his greatest innovations at the feet of a fascinating woman.