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von der Heydt, V. (1977). Van Der Post, L. Jung and the story of our time. New York.. J. Anal. Psychol., 22(1):79-80.

(1977). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 22(1):79-80

Van Der Post, L. Jung and the story of our time. New York.

Review by:
V. von der Heydt

Edited by:
Kenneth Lambert

Pantheon Books. 1975. Laurens van der Post's book is interesting because it is written by someone who was a personal friend of Jung, and who was neither a colleague nor a patient. Returning from one of his trips to Africa, the author went to Zürich, where his wife was in analysis with Toni Wolff. He met Jung at a luncheon party and, at one point, told him about a primitive way of making fire. Jung was fascinated, and when the lunch was over asked him to accompany him home. This was the beginning of the friendship. Jung was stirred by the many tales and myths from Africa told to him by Van der Post, and was also thrilled to have found a good listener to whom he could talk freely.

Jung talked about his relationships, his work, his dreams; he told Van der Post things he had refrained from mentioning in Memories, dreams, reflections, or added details which make some of his reminiscences even more meaningful. Van der Post interprets these disclosures with intuitive insight and great understanding; in some instances further information about events or circumstances was imparted to him by members of Jung's intimate circle, all of whom were, or are, on friendly terms with the author.

In the first autobiographical chapter, Van der Post, in a very restrained manner, writes about his Puritan background and the nightmare of being a Japanese prisoner of war. There is no doubt that in an obscure way he felt akin to Jung through the extent and depth of his own suffering. This lies behind Van der Post's attitude to Jung whom he considers to have been the only truly great man he has ever met.

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