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Brierley, M. (1956). The Origins and History of Consciousness: By Erich Neumann. With a Foreword by C. G. Jung. Translated from the German by R. F. C. Hull. (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1954. Pp. xxiv + 493. 30 s.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 37:499.

(1956). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 37:499

The Origins and History of Consciousness: By Erich Neumann. With a Foreword by C. G. Jung. Translated from the German by R. F. C. Hull. (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1954. Pp. xxiv + 493. 30 s.)

Review by:
Marjorie Brierley

The German original of this volume first appeared in 1949, and the present translation embodies corrections and revisions made by the author. In his Introduction the author writes: 'It is the task of this book to show that a series of archetypes is a main constituent of mythology, that they stand in an organic relation to one another, and that their stadial succession determines the growth of consciousness. In the course of its ontogenetic development, the individual ego consciousness has to pass through the same archetypal stages which determined the evolution of consciousness in the life of humanity' (p. xvi). 'The individualized conscious man of our era is a late man, whose structure is built on early, pre-individual human stages from which individual consciousness has only detached itself step by step' (p. xx). Hence, Part I deals with 'The Mythological Stages in the Evolution of Consciousness' in three sections: A, 'The Creation Myth'; B, 'The Hero Myth'; C, 'The Transformation Myth'; and Part II with 'The Psychological Stages in the Development of Personality' in four sections: A, 'The Original Unity'; B, 'The Separation of the Systems'; C, 'The Balance and Crisis of Consciousness'; D, 'Centroversion and the Stages of Life'. There are two appendices, a bibliography, an index, and thirty-one illustrations. Since it is essentially a book for what one might term 'advanced Jungians', Jung's own opinion of it may be of general interest. In an appreciative Foreword he says: '… the present work opens at the very place where I unwittingly made landfall on the new continent long ago, namely the realm of matriarchal symbolism; and, as a conceptual framework for his discoveries the author uses a symbol whose significance first dawned on me in my recent writings on the psychology of alchemy: the uroboros. Upon this foundation he has succeeded in constructing a unique history of the evolution of consciousness, and at the same time in representing the body of myths as the phenomenology of this same evolution. In this way he arrives at conclusions and insights which are among the most important ever to be reached in this field' (pp. xiii-xiv).

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