Memories, Dreams, Reflections

by Carl Jung
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What are the major themes of Memories, Dreams, Reflections?

The major themes of Memories, Dreams, Reflections are making sense of life in retrospect and the primacy of the interior life over the events that take place on the surface.

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Memories, Dreams, Reflections is the English title of a book that was a collaboration between Carl Gustav Jung and Aniela Jaffé, a Swiss analyst who worked closely with him over several years. The initial plan was that Jaffé would write the book, based on her interviews with Jung; but as...

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Memories, Dreams, Reflections is the English title of a book that was a collaboration between Carl Gustav Jung and Aniela Jaffé, a Swiss analyst who worked closely with him over several years. The initial plan was that Jaffé would write the book, based on her interviews with Jung; but as Jung became more interested in the project, he decided to contribute some of the writing himself.

The title of the book provides three clues to the themes. Jung recalls what he considers to be the most important details of his life, giving unusual prominence to dreams, and reflects on their significance. One of the themes, therefore, is that of making sense of human existence, particularly of a long life nearing its end, using all the tools at one's disposal. Throughout the book, Jung reevaluates his childhood experiences and his dreams in the light of his current religious and philosophical beliefs.

Another important theme of the memoir is demonstrated by the focus on Jung's interior life, at the cost of the type of details and anecdotes that are the staples of traditional autobiography. For instance, Jung talks about his travels in Africa, but his primary interest in travel is the intellectual development that it brings to his ideas about religion and myth.

For Jung, everything of real importance happens inside the mind. It is a trivial matter whether the thought in question happens to be generated by an incident in childhood or a book one reads as an adult; by a trip round the world or a vividly remembered dream.

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