DATE December 1, 2003 ACCOUNT NUMBER N/A
TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/A
PROGRAM Fresh Air
Interview: Deirdre Bair discusses her new biography of Carl Jung
TERRY GROSS, host:
This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.
My guest, Deirdre Bair, has written a new biography of one of the most
important and controversial figures in the history of psychoanalysis, Carl
Jung. He gave us the concepts of the archetype, the unconscious, the
collective unconscious, the extrovert and introvert. Her new biography
examines how Jung developed his theories and investigates the truth behind the
controversy surrounding his life and his research. She's the first Jung
biographer to conduct interviews with his family. She also gained access to
the diaries, documents and letters of co-workers, patients and his mistress.
Bair received a National Book Award for her biography of Samuel Beckett.
She's also written biographies of Anais Nin and Simone de Beauvoir.
Welcome back to FRESH AIR.
Ms. DEIRDRE BAIR (Biographer): Thank you.
GROSS: Some of the concepts that Jung is best known for are archetypes, the
collective unconscious, anima and animus. Would you choose a couple of those
and talk about what they are?
Ms. BAIR: Well, let's start with the collective unconscious, which I think
is the cornerstone of his psychology. This is information or knowledge that
is common to all people no matter what your race, class, ethnic background,
where you live in the world. There are certain myths, for example, that
pertain to everyone. Everyone has a version of a myth of an evil spirit, a
devil, a princess being rescued, that sort of thing. One in particular,
probably the most important, was the myth of the solar phallus. Jung had a
patient who believed that he could create the weather by looking at the sun
and making little tails that emerged from the sun move. And this was a myth
that is found in about seven or eight or 10 different cultures.
Anima and animus. The anima is the female component that every male has
within him. And the animus is the masculine component that every female has
within her. And frequently, you will hear, `Well, her animus is out of
control,' meaning she's a very, very aggressive female, or `His anima is
predominant,' meaning that he's kind of a wimpy fellow and probably should do
more to express his masculinity.
GROSS: Jung also coined the expressions `New Age' and `Age of Aquarius.' How
would you describe his place in, quote, "New Age thinking"?
Ms. BAIR: Well, he's terribly important. You can't pick up a New Age
publication without finding the adjective Jungian either preceding the phrase
or somewhere very prominent in the subtitle. His philosophy seems to
resonate, particularly as we move into the 21st century. The New Age, I
think, is a way of combining--This, of course, is my own capsule simplistic
definition--a way of combining religion, philosophy, a way of being in the
world. And Jung seemed to have a great many qualities and characteristics in
his psychology that, really, people who espoused New Age ways of thinking tend
to believe in.
GROSS: And how would you describe Jung's place now in mainstream psychology?
Ms. BAIR: This is very curious. It depends, really, on what philosophy,
what particular leader within the field of psychology one follows. The
Freudians, for the most part, do indeed have the knives out for anything
Jungian. The Jungians seem to be all-inclusive. They'll take anything, from
group therapy to transpersonal analysis, and they will incorporate what's
useful within their system. So it's a very troubled position that Jung holds,
and the reason I say that is because when he broke with Freud in 1913, Freud
defined the terms of their breakup, of their split. Jung never really said
anything about it. He continued to speak respectfully of Freud for the rest
of his life. And so therefore, Jung was seen as the ingrate, the usurper, the
power-hungry, power-mad crazy person, isolated in neutral Switzerland, that
sort of thing. So he got a very bad rap from the beginning, and it tends to
have stuck to him.
GROSS: Well, this is one of the very controversial parts of his life and
career. What were the disagreements about between Freud and Jung? Freud had
been Jung's mentor.
Ms. BAIR: Freud had been Jung's mentor. Jung read "The Interpretation of
Dreams" and discovered that there was very, very much in this book that he
could relate to. And so he went to Vienna to see Freud, to sit at Freud's
feet, and Freud immediately said, `Oh, you are my crown prince. You are my
heir.' And to his other followers in Vienna, Freud said, `We need Jung,
because he's Christian, and psychology, psychoanalysis is in danger of
becoming known as the Jewish science, because we are all Jewish, so we need
this Christian to be a part of our emerging discipline.' Jung was very, very
happy to be Freud's follower, Freud's colleague. But Jung was not happy to
accept the sexual basis of all behavior as the only governing, dominating
facet of psychology. So eventually, it was over the question of the libido,
the sexual drive, that Jung and Freud fell out.
GROSS: Because Freud felt that so much of human behavior comes from the
sexual drive or the thwarting of the sexual drive, and Jung disagreed about
Ms. BAIR: Yes. Jung said that there were other things. Jung gave a nod
toward Adler by saying, `Power is important. People have a power drive.' And
Jung said, `People are hungry. The need for food, the need for the basic
aspects of life--food, shelter, water, those sorts of things--they matter,
too. Human relationships matter that are not sexual. These all influence a
person's character and behavior.' And Freud insisted that, really, the sexual
drive was the all-important drive, and that Jung had to embrace this entirely.
And of course, by 1912, when he published the book "Symbols of
Transformation," he was simply unable to follow Freud down that path.
GROSS: Well, when Freud and Jung split in 1913, it was a pretty bitter split,
and I believe they never spoke again afterwards. How much of the split and
the bitterness behind it had to do with differences in their beliefs of the
underlying psychological principles that motivate men and women? How much of
it was personal?
Ms. BAIR: Oh, you know, I have this absolutely enormous chapter with several
hundred footnotes taking it step by step along the way, so it's hard to say
it's half personal, it's half professional, because the two were so
intertwined and so mixed up. But there's no question that Freud engineered
the split, and Freud just kept accusing Jung of treachery and wanting to
abandon him and wanting to usurp Freud's position and so on and so forth. And
so Jung was silent. Jung never talked about it. But Freud immediately rushed
into print his version of the history of psychoanalysis, claiming everything
for himself and denigrating and denouncing Jung. And by this time, World War
I had broken out, Jung was isolated in Switzerland, and there you have it.
The break became solidified in stone, if you will. And each of the two held
fast to a position that each held for the rest of their lives.
GROSS: Of all the information that you were able to get about the
relationship between Freud and Jung, is there any other, you know, anecdote or
detail that you think would be really useful for us in understanding what was
really behind their split?
Ms. BAIR: Well, I'll talk about that in terms of Dr. Kurt Eissler, the late
Kurt Eissler, who was the dean and, some would say, the dragon who guarded
Freud's gates. And in the last years of Dr. Eissler's life, I had the
privilege of interviewing him here in New York. And I would talk to him, and
actually, I would argue with him. I would contradict him. I would present
evidence to show that perhaps a view that he held about the Freud-Jung split
really wasn't entirely accurate. And one day, I was sitting at home, and my
telephone rang, and it was Dr. Eissler. And he said, `You know, I had an
interview with Jung in 1953, and I put it into the Library of Congress, and I
restricted it until the year 2005. But I think of all the people who have
written about the Freud-Jung split, you're telling the most truthful version
we have to date, so I've just told the librarian at the Library of Congress to
send you that interview.' And I was absolutely stunned by this generosity.
I'd never hoped to see this interview.
GROSS: What did he say in that interview?
Ms. BAIR: Well, he talked about Freud from the beginning. He talked about
how he first went to see him and how, from the beginning, he was aware that he
was probably not going to be able to follow Freud, even though he wanted to,
that he could not call the sex drive, the libido the cornerstone of his own
way of approaching psychoanalysis. He talked about conversations that he had
with Freud over various other points at issue. He discussed Freud's personal
habits, Freud's way of being in the world, of relating to people. So from
that perspective, it just gave me such depth and dimension to put the
relationship into a very human perspective.
GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is Deirdre Bair, and she's the
author of a new biography of Carl Jung.
An earlier book from the 1990s about Jung claimed that Jung had stolen the
concept of the collective unconscious, one of the cornerstones of his theory
of psychology, that he'd stolen it from one of his medical students. What did
you find about that?
Ms. BAIR: Well, I found a great deal about that, starting around 1901, when
Jung went to work at the Burgholzli, that he had identified this patient as
someone whose delusions were worth recording, worth following, worth writing
down. Every medical student in Switzerland cannot become a practicing doctor
until he or she writes a dissertation. And Jung, as the second in command at
this Burgholzli, was in charge of assigning the various under-doctors topics
for them to write their dissertation on. So he selected Hanni Jaeger, who was
extremely bright, very charismatic man, and he asked Hanni Jaeger to follow
the patient Amel Schweitzer(ph). Hanni Jaeger was in the midst of a psychotic
breakdown. Indeed, at the end of 1910, he killed himself. He committed
suicide. So Hanni Jaeger followed the patient for a very brief time. So the
question then arises of who wrote the papers, who compiled them, who put them
together, who first identified the concept and so on and so forth. And I
simply followed the evidence. I followed the Hanni Jaeger papers and a lot of
other related documents.
GROSS: So what did you conclude?
Ms. BAIR: Well, my conclusion was that Jung identified the myth of the
collective unconscious. Jung identified the solar phallus theory, which
became the cornerstone. In 1901, he had no time to do the work himself.
There are allusions to it in his letters to Freud as early as 1903, 1904.
He's chafing that he can't do this work. He needs to find somebody to do it
for him. And then he found Hanni Jaeger, and he thought that everything would
go to a very smooth conclusion, but Hanni Jaeger had his psychotic breakdown
and killed himself. So really, you know, there's no absolutely definite
answer, but common sense really should make one conclude that this was Jung's
theory from the very beginning.
GROSS: My guest is Deirdre Bair. She's written a new biography of Carl Jung.
We'll talk more after a break. This is FRESH AIR.
(Soundbite of music)
GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is Deirdre Bair, and we're talking
about her new biography of Carl Jung.
One of the interesting things about Carl Jung's personal life is that,
although he was married and had several children, he had a mistress most of
his life, and his wife knew about it. How did Jung justify that to himself
and to his wife?
Ms. BAIR: You know, it was a very troubled, very dramatic situation for all
three who formed this curious triangle. Emma Rauschenbach-Jung was the second
richest woman in Switzerland. Her family had a great, great fortune.
GROSS: This was his wife?
Ms. BAIR: This was his wife. And indeed, much of the work that Jung was
able to do really was because, in the beginning, at any rate, Emma's great
fortune gave him the freedom and the possibility to do the kind of work that
he wanted to do.
Toni Wolff, the mistress, came to him when she was a very young woman, 19
going on 20. She was brought to him by her mother. She was the eldest of
three daughters and she had been very close to her father, who had just died.
And she was deeply troubled, deeply depressed and Jung found that in the
analytic sessions he had with her, the way to get a response, the way to get
her to communicate was to talk to her about mythology, to talk to her about
comparative religion, all the things that he was interested in, it turned out
that she was interested in, too. So her therapy progressed as an intellectual
experience that they shared. Indeed, he took her to the Wymar Analytic
Conference(ph) in 1913 as a very young protege. He and his wife were her
chaperones. Toni's family was present at the incorporation of the Swiss
democracy in the 12th century. They were among the highest, highest social
class in Zurich. There was no way in the world that Jung could dishonor Toni
by having her proclaimed as his mistress openly. And the two of them, they
really fought the attraction for a number of years.
Emma knew about it. She was deeply, deeply upset. Toni's mother colluded in
the lifelong relationship that Jung had with Toni to the world at large and to
most of Zurich, which is a very small and very gossipy town even today.
People didn't know that Jung and Toni had a physical relationship. They all
thought that she was just his colleague. And this was because Toni's mother
recognized the need for this relationship in her daughter and provided a
screen. Jung was invited as a family friend to family lunches and dinners and
this sort of thing.
It was extraordinarily painful for the three of them and there were various
times throughout the 40 or so years that they had this relationship that the
three of them would be in a lot of trouble in how they related to each other.
But ultimately, to sum it up, I think Jung was one of the very few men in the
world who was able to take two women and treat them as two wives separately
GROSS: I know that Jung's wife considered divorce several times. Did Jung
ever consider divorcing his wife and marrying his mistress?
Ms. BAIR: No, never. The only thing that Jung considered was suicide. He
told a very, very trusted colleague of his that one day he was swimming in the
lake. He lived on the lakeshore in the little town of Kusnacht just outside
Zurich, and he was swimming and he thought to himself, `The best thing for me
to do would be to let go and drown because I'm causing so much unhappiness to
the two people I love, and I see no way out.' But, of course, he didn't. He
swam back to shore, and he was just persuaded to muddle through. He really
was not--you know, a lot of people consider him such a bully and such a
misogynist and so unfeeling and uncaring about his wife and his mistress'
attitudes or positions in life, and I didn't find that. I found a man who
knew that he was hurting these two women and who cared deeply for each of them
but just couldn't see his way clear to choose one or the other.
GROSS: What about his thoughts about women in general? You know, I should
mention to our listeners that one of your books is a biography of the great
feminist writer Simone de Beauvoir. So what did you think of what Jung had to
say about women and the role of women and the psychology of women?
Ms. BAIR: I came of age in the generation of the '70s with that generation
of feminists, and most of us rejected Freud, or at least if we didn't reject
him outright, we found fault with him because we felt that he ignored our half
of the human race. And I think that many feminist women were initially more
comfortable with Jung. At least I know that I was because he did talk about
women. He wrote about women. Again, the concepts of anima and animus, the
idea of the shadow which is the darker, unpleasant part of the self. Women
were using those concepts when they thought about their own personal
psychology. So I found myself, I should say, much more comfortable thinking
and writing about Jung than about Freud when I wrote about Simone de Beauvoir.
And, of course, when I wrote about Anais Nin, it was the same sort of thing.
She had been in psychology, in psychoanalysis for over 40 years, and in the
end, she gravitated to Jungian analysts who gave her the most comfort and the
GROSS: Deirdre Bair is the author of a new biography of Carl Jung. She'll be
back in the second half of the show. I'm Terry Gross and this is FRESH AIR.
(Soundbite of music)
GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross back with Deirdre Bair. She's
written a new biography of Carl Jung. He and Sigmund Freud were the two most
important figures in the development of psychoanalysis. Freud was Jung's
mentor, but after a falling out in 1914, Jung developed his own system of
analytical psychology. In the new biography Bair examines Jung's theories and
the controversies surrounding his life and work.
Let me ask you about your investigation into another claim about Carl Jung,
which is that he was a Nazi sympathizer. And this is based, in part, on the
fact that he accepted the presidency of a professional society in Germany
during the Nazi regime, and he didn't resign from that position until World
War II was well under way. What did you find about the claim that he was a
Ms. BAIR: Well, to cut to the chase, that was unfounded. I don't believe
it's true. What is true is that he was incredibly naive. He made many silly,
stupid decisions in connection with this International Society. His bottom
line was that he was helping to save his Jewish colleagues. Very early on
Hitler decreed that anything pertaining to the Jewish science had to be
`gleichlautened,' which is the word for `conformed,' which means that
psychology had to be subverted into Nazi ideology. And the way they did this
was they just totally tried to do away with Freud. They had to invent new
words for Freudian concepts. And they disqualified Jews from being able to
practice professionally in any of the clinical sciences in Germany.
So Jung was the vice president of this organization in 1933. And the
president, a man named Ernst Kretchmer, resigned because he was a German;
Kretchmer was a German, and he decided that he couldn't go along with Nazi
doctrine, Nazi ideology. So Jung, as the vice president, immediately became
the president. Now Jung could have resigned, and probably, in retrospect,
with perfect hindsight, he should have resigned. But he didn't. He stayed
president of this organization.
And, incidentally, this is the longest chapter of my book; it's over 100
pages, and it has, I think, close to 200 footnotes. I got all of the original
correspondence between Jung and the Nazis. I got all the government documents
in Berlin, in Bern and all these other places, and I just went through them,
you know, step by step day by day, more or less.
And the conclusion is that Jung did a great deal to help individual Jews. He
made it possible for them to become members of foreign chapters of this
international society, so that, in effect, they had a lifeline to their
profession. When some of them found their way into Switzerland--and this was
very few because Switzerland closed the doors very early to refugees. But if
any of them came to Switzerland, Jung signed what is known as an `attest' that
he would be financially responsible for these people if they couldn't support
themselves. He also gave every single one of them free analysis; he didn't
charge them any money. So individually he did a great deal.
GROSS: Now you...
Ms. BAIR: Collectively...
Ms. BAIR: ...he didn't.
GROSS: What do you mean?
Ms. BAIR: Well, collectively he went on German radio, he gave interviews to
German publications. They were able to take snippets from these convoluted
essays that he wrote and make them say whatever they wanted. And he kept
writing about the difference of the Jewish character. It is unfortunate that
he chose Jewish character and culture at such a troubled time in our history.
He used the Jew as an example of one who is not rooted in land or in the soil,
and therefore the Jew in Germany could never become a true German, could never
assimilate. And, of course, he started saying this sort of thing in 1918 at
the same time as he warned that the German collective unconscious was forging
itself into a fearsome being that the rest of the world was going to have
trouble with in very short time period in years to comes. So the fact that he
continued to make these remarks is very, very damaging, and it's just really
stupid. And it's not silly, it's not naive. It's just stupid that he did it.
GROSS: Now you also found that during World War II, the United States
intelligence enlisted Jung to work with it. What work did the OSS ask Carl
Jung to do during World War II?
Ms. BAIR: Well, Carl Jung was Agent 488. And Allen Dulles, who was the
director of intelligence in Central Europe, used to send Agent 488's analyses
and dispatches to David Bruce in London, Allen Dulles' superior. Primarily
what Jung did--they would ask Jung to pass on any information that he got from
his German clients, patients, whatever one wants to call them. If Hitler gave
a speech, for example, or Goebbels or any of the other prominent German
officials, they would ask Jung to analyze it, to tell them what was going on.
Jung had a patient who was in the Abwehr, the German intelligence, and he was
actually a double agent working with Dulles. So Jung was the go-between
And then, I think the most important thing of all, in the last desperate
months of the war, when Eisenhower wanted the civilian populations of German
cities to surrender, he wanted to drop leaflets from airplanes. And he asked
Jung to read what he wrote and to make sure that the propaganda, for that's
what it was, would appeal to the German mentality; that they would understand
what it was that the allies were asking them to do. So Eisenhower wrote in
several letters that he really, really valued Jung's contribution to getting
the war to end.
GROSS: Is there an example of something that Jung either signed off on or
said, `No, this isn't going to work. You have to change. I suggest this'?
Ms. BAIR: Yes, he did that also. I have a couple of those in the book,
where he said, `You have to appeal to the goodness in the German character.
There is a big hole in how they think and how they feel at this particular
time, and you have to fill that hole with goodness. You have to appeal to
what is best in the German civilian mentality at this time.'
GROSS: So how did that translate into the propaganda?
Ms. BAIR: Well, it was just the sentences, you know, `If you surrender, the
following will happen, and this is what we will expect of you. We will enlist
you, the German populace, to help us in all these ways to rebuild your very
troubled and destroyed country.'
GROSS: My guest is Deirdre Bair. She's written a new biography of Carl Jung.
We'll talk more after a break. This is FRESH AIR.
(Soundbite of music)
GROSS: Deirdre Bair is my guest. She's the author of a new biography of Carl
Jung. Her previous books are biographies of Samuel Beckett, Simone de
Beauvoir and Anais Nin.
Did you find that Carl Jung lived by the principles he wrote about? Now
you've said that those principles are pretty contradictory. But when you look
at his life, do you walk away thinking that he was a hypocrite or a man of
Ms. BAIR: Oh, he was absolutely a man of principle. I mean, starting with
the Freud business, the break with Freud, he was absolutely principled. He
said, `Well, if I'm not going to follow Freud anymore, I can't practice his
psychology. I have to find my own. I can't use his terms and his
definitions. I have to come up with my own. I can't do analysis the way he
does. I have to find my own way of relating to the individual patient.' And
so, you know, starting with that all the way through the rest of his life,
particularly the relationship with Toni Wolff, the mistress, and Emma Jung,
his wife, `I have to honor both these women. I have created a situation where
I have two women in my life. I have to honor them, and I have to give them
both the same privilege.' And he did that.
And, for example, when he was writing about the difference in the Jewish
character and culture, he said, `This is a cornerstone of my philosophy, my
psychology. I could take just as easily the Chinese character and culture as
I could the Jewish, but the Jewish is more immediate and germane to who I am
and where I live,' and just on and on. When he was writing his memoir
"Memories, Dreams, Reflections" and people wanted him to sanitize it, to clean
up what he said, he said, `Well, I'm earthy, I'm vulgar. I'm a man of the
soil. This is how I think, and this is what I'm going to say.' And he did.
GROSS: Jung's family, who controls the Jung estate, is known for being very
protective of his journals and letters. What kind of access did you get?
What do you wish you had access to but did not?
Ms. BAIR: Well, I had access to everything but the private correspondence
between Carl and Emma Jung, and this is very interesting. The concept of
privacy in Switzerland is so intense and so different, say, from an American,
who, you know--there's nothing private in the United States. Everything is
grist for the gossip mill here. But everything is terribly, terribly private
in Switzerland. The family gave me absolutely unprecedented cooperation, and
I'm very grateful to them. They let me see every archive, every
correspondence, anything I wanted to see, except the letters that Jung and
Emma wrote to each other. And these were mostly letters when he was away; he
traveled a great deal, and she stayed mostly at home.
And I said to one of the grandsons, who's a man in his late 60s, early 70s
now, `Well, if you're not going to let me read the letters, could you at least
just go and check to make sure when I say that Jung was in a certain place on
a certain date, he really was?' And the man said, `Oh, I couldn't possibly do
that.' He said, `We, of course, have saved the letters, but no one will ever
read them. Why, we would blush with shame to think that we would be reading
the private correspondence of our grandmother and grandfather.' So that's the
only thing I didn't see, and, of course, I really do think it would be
wonderful to have seen it.
GROSS: Are any of the children still alive?
Ms. BAIR: There's one, the last daughter, Emma Helene(ph), who was born in
1914. She's still alive. I talked to--let's see, there were four surviving
children when I started the work. Maryanne(ph) had died of cancer in the
1960s. So I interviewed Franz Jung, the only son, and Agatha, the eldest
daughter, and Gret, very famous astrologer daughter. And I talked to Helene
through her son, who was my major contact, but I never spoke to Helene
personally. So of the four surviving children, I interviewed three
GROSS: Did you talk to any of the children about what their reaction was to
their father's almost lifelong affair with his mistress?
Ms. BAIR: At great, great length, and I've written about it extensively
throughout the text at the various ages of the children when they were young,
when they were older. They really despised her. They were trained to call
her Tante Toni, Aunt Toni, by their parents. And when they became older, they
used this as a derision; they didn't do it with respect. They played terrible
tricks on her, practical jokes. They insulted her. They were not nice to her
as they grew up. They resented her. They hated the fact that she came to
Sunday lunch, which was the sacrosanct family occasion, and after Sunday
lunch, Toni Wolff and Carl Jung would go off somewhere privately and talk;
that he wouldn't be with the family. So the children really did not like her
GROSS: How did he explain his relationship with Toni Wolff to the children?
Ms. BAIR: Well, he never did. That's the thing about the Swiss people--is
they don't talk about things. You're just expected to know about them. And,
you know, they are, as we now say, the elephant in the room that no one talks
about, and so that's really how the relationship evolved. It stayed constant
until about the 1940s when he decided that he wanted to pursue research in
alchemy, and she said, `I'm not going to follow you there. If you go into
alchemical reading and writing, people are going to say, "Ah-ha, here's proof
that he was the charlatan we always thought he was."' And so she said, `You
can't do this.' You know, `You come from a Christian tradition.' She had no
understanding of what he wanted to do with alchemy, and she had no desire to
follow him. And so that's really what caused the break between them. After
about 1944 he was terribly cordial, civil, polite to her, but the personal
relationship and the professional relationship, both, were finished.
GROSS: Did writing this biography of Jung change your opinion of him in any
Ms. BAIR: It answered a lot of questions for me. As I said, I had always
been more sympathetic to Jungian psychology than I was to Freudian psychology,
and, again, that's because I was a feminist of the generation of the 1970s.
But I start this book with one question in mind. There had been about four or
five biographies before mine, and every one of them was so negative. None of
these writers went to Zurich to do the research. Only one of them, Richard
Noll, knew the German language, could read German. They hadn't interviewed
the family, they hadn't looked at any of the archives. It was sort of as if
they sent a researcher into the library, and all the gossip and the innuendo,
they put it together in a hit-and-run, cut-and-paste kind of book. And I
thought to myself, `This must be a man of some sort of extraordinary charisma
or power if so many people have such strong opinions about him. I'd better
try to find out what's right, what's true.' And so that was my purpose in
writing this book. I wanted to find out the real reality, if you will, and I
think I came pretty close.
There was a lot about Jung that was not pleasant, unsavory. He was, in many
ways, a bully. His nickname was `the barrel.' He would bulldoze, steamroll
anybody who was in his way. But on the other hand, he was a man of such
personal integrity. He did what he thought was right, no matter how it put
him at odds with the rest of the world. So I should say I ended up having a
great deal of respect for him.
GROSS: How much did you care about Jung before starting this book?
Ms. BAIR: He was sort of on the periphery of my consciousness. Beckett had
been taken by his analyst to go to hear Jung deliver The Tavistock Lectures in
1935, and I really wish I had made more of that in the biography of Samuel
Beckett because it was very clear that the Jungian idea of the complex, the
question of, you know, we have many little different selves within ourselves,
this became so major in Beckett's writing. I wish I'd known more about it at
the time. And even when I wrote about Simone de Beauvoir, when she was
rejecting Freud, she was rejecting psychoanalysis because she couldn't accept
Freudian doctrines and dictates. What she was really saying, to me, was, `If
I had to accept psychoanalysis, it probably would be from a Jungian
perspective.' And, again, writing about Anais Nin, "40 Years: An Analysis,"
Jung was always there in the background.
And Jung talked about synchronicity. `When things happen and there's no clear
connecting cause to make these things happen, but eventually they all add up
into a single thing,' he called that synchronicity. And I think perhaps I can
use that word, `synchronicity,' to say that's how I came to write this book.
GROSS: This final question is more personal, so feel free to not answer it if
it's too personal. Have you ever been in psychoanalysis yourself, and has,
you know, this Jungian research affected your thoughts about any analysis
you'd been in or any interest you might have in doing that in the future?
Ms. BAIR: Well, I never had a full, formal analysis, but I talked to two
different Jungian analysts. The first came when I was having a lot of trouble
finishing the Beckett book, and this was at a time when all the goals and the
roles for women were in question. And I was married, and I had children, and
all of my friends around me were taking off to find themselves and so on and
so forth. And one of my neighbors said, `Well, why don't you come with me? I
don't to this analyst down in Westport'--I was living in Connecticut then.
And I said, `Yeah, that sounds like a good idea.' And my friend said, `Oh, but
I have to warn you, she's a Jungian.' And I said, `Well, why do you say it
that way?' And she said, `Well, you know, a lot of people don't really like
So, anyway, I went to this wonderful woman for two or three months, and in the
process of going to her, I was able to conclude the Beckett book and get it
ready for publication.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Ms. BAIR: I stayed married and dealt with my teen-aged kids and so on and so
forth. And so I said to her, `Wow, this was fantastic. Why don't I go into a
full-blown, full-scale analysis with you?' And she said, `Honey, I'm getting
tired of the rich women of Fairfield County. I'm on my way to North Carolina,
where I can work with the mountain people and collect some myths.' So, no, I
never had an analysis. That's as close as I came.
GROSS: Well, Deirdre Bair, thank you so much for talking with us.
Ms. BAIR: Thank you.
GROSS: Deirdre Bair is the author of a new biography of Carl Jung.
Coming up, book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews new reprints of long-lost
detective and pulp fiction written by women. This is FRESH AIR.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Review: Collection of novels reprinted by two academic presses
TERRY GROSS, host:
`Women's stories' is a term that brings to mind the melodramatic weepies of
the 1930s and, even earlier, the sentimental domestic novels of the 19th
century that centered on home and hearth. But a collection of novels that
have just been reprinted by two academic presses brings to light other kinds
of hugely popular women's stories that seethe with intrigue, forbidden erotic
desires and murderous passions. Book critic Maureen Corrigan has a review.
MAUREEN CORRIGAN reporting:
In the 1970s the first generation of feminist literary scholars exhumed the
work of women writers and thus liberated the boys' club that was then the
Western canon. Those heady days of discovery are now pretty much, but not
completely, past. Two academic presses have recently republished some
long-lost, popular fiction by women, some of it startling, that gives readers
that old feminist thrill of uncovering literary curios and even a genuine
treasure or two.
Edgar Allan Poe passes the magnifying glass to Dashiell Hammett, who then lobs
it at Raymond Chandler. That's how the evolution of the American detective
tale is commonly understood, and it's a crime because two best-selling
American women of mystery, Anna Katherine Green and Metta Fuller Victor, are
missing from that lineup. To rectify the offense, Duke University Press has
just brought out two thick paperbacks, each containing novels by each of these
women as well as smart, introductory essays about their work.
The name Anna Katherine Green is hardly unknown to detective fiction
aficionados. Her best-selling, 1878, locked-room mystery "The Leavenworth
Case" has been kept in print erratically. But the two novels Duke has
reprinted, "That Affair Next Door" and "Lost Man's Lane," are real eye-openers
because of the radically new type of detective they introduce. In "That
Affair Next Door," which Green wrote in 1897, the character of the old maid
snoop was born in the shape of New York City spinster Amelia Butterworth.
More egotistical than her famous successor, Agatha Christie's Miss Marple,
Butterworth is always congratulating herself on her `nerves of iron' and on
noticing clues that `only a lady of quality would catch,' like the department
store origins of a dress on a corpse. Butterworth is meant to be funny, and
she is but in a Falstaffian kind of way.
So to my taste, the greater find here is Metta Victor Fuller and particularly
her first novel, "The Dead Letter." "The Dead Letter" was published in 1868,
and the introduction claims it's the first American detective novel, not the
first written by a woman, just `the.' Remember, Poe, the father of the form,
wrote only detective fiction short stories. "The Dead Letter" is soaked in
gothic atmosphere. It opens on a dark and stormy night in a house in the
farmlands outside New York City, where a young woman waits for her fiance, who
never arrives alive. Post-Civil War politics come into play in references to
the recent annexation of California and the possibility of annexing Cuba. But
domestic geography is what really distinguishes "The Dead Letter,"
particularly the hemmed in rooms and the constrained possibilities that mark
the female characters' lives.
Now on to some real genre slumming. The Feminist Press has just inaugurated a
new reprint series called "Femme Fatales: Women Write Pulp." The first three
novels to appear give readers a good, rancid taste of pulp categories. "In A
Lonely Place" was the 1947 noire novel by Dorothy B. Hughes that inspired the
classic film noire of the same name starring Humphrey Bogart. But Bogart's
Dix Steele is a far more redeemable creature than Hughes' monster.
In Faith Baldwin's 1930s romance "Skyscraper," a young woman exalts in the
autonomy that her job as a clerk in Manhattan grants her. But she also itches
for the safety of marriage. Charting its heroine's adventures as what was
then called a bachelor maid, "Skyscraper" also takes a gritty look at low-wage
jobs during the Depression.
And Valerie Taylor's 1950s pot boiler, "The Girls in 3-B," which went on to
have a second life as a cleaned up comic strip, tells the tale of three
country gals who each make their way to Chicago. Two settle into marriages
after brushes with lecherous bosses and beastly beatniks. But the third finds
fulfillment in a lesbian relationship. Taylor's is one of the few
pre-Stonewall novels, pulp or otherwise, where the sapphic heroines don't kill
themselves or grimly resolve to go straight.
I can't make claims of great literary value for any of these pulps, but
they're certainly a lot of fun to read as well as illuminating sociologically.
The thoughtful afterwords to all these novels will supply readers with
excellent defenses against those critics who dismiss pulps as pure trash.
Nothing's pure. That's what these fascinating pulp and detective fiction
reprints show us. Literary history is speckled with shadowy outsiders, and
even some of the greatest books have their origins in the foul rag-and-bone
shop of popular art.
GROSS: Maureen Corrigan teaches literature at Georgetown University. A
complete list of the books she just reviewed can be found at our Web site,
GROSS: I'm Terry Gross.
GROSS: On the next FRESH AIR, the rising costs of health care and health
insurance. We talk with Chris Butler of Independence Blue Cross; Art Caplan,
chair of the Medical Ethics Department at the University of Pennsylvania; and
Sherry Glied, chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management at
Columbia University. I'm Terry Gross. Join us for the next FRESH AIR.
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