Spring: A Journal of Archetype and Culture and Spring Journal Books
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Reading Goethe at Midlife
Ancient Wisdom, German Classicism, and Jung

by Paul Bishop

ISBN: 978-1-935528-10-4
280 pp.

This book explores the history of the idea of the midlife crisis, using the writings of C.G. Jung and Goethe to investigate its relevance for today. Tracing how the "ages of humankind" became "the stages of life," in which the midlife crisis represents a pivotal moment, Paul Bishop offers a detailed analysis of a paper by Jung on this subject. He then shifts the focus to Goethe's interest in Orphic wisdom, and one of Goethe's major later poems, "Primal Words. Orphic" (Urworte. Orphisch). Using Jungian ideas to explore the psychological implications of this poem, Bishop draws on Goethe's own commentary, and other background material, to uncover its vital message.

Reading Goethe at Midlife reveals the remarkable symmetry between the ideas of Jung and Goethe. Jung's analysis of the stages of life, and his advice to heed the "call of the self," are brought into conjunction with Goethe's emphasis on the importance of hope, showing an underlying continuity of thought and relevance from ancient wisdom, via German classicism, to analytical psychology.
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Praise for Reading Goethe at Midlife
At a time when many Jungians are turning to neuroscience to provide an external underpinning for Analytical Psychology, this scholarly book is very welcome: it returns to psychology's home territory, placing Jung firmly in a long cultural tradition. Impressively well-read in many fields extending from literature and the history of ideas to psychoanalysis and Jungian studies, Paul Bishop allows a text by Jung and a late poem by Goethe to mirror and enhance each other, demonstrating Jung's intellectual proximity to the tradition of German classicism. The wealth of "amplifications" that Bishop brings to the many themes treated allows us to experience a living reality - a continuity of ideas across different times and cultures.
WOLFGANG GIEGERICH, AUTHOR OF THE SOUL'S LOGICAL LIFE
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PART ONE
Chapter 1: The Stages of Life and the Midlife Crisis: A Brief History of an Idea
Two Visual Starting Points – From the Ages of Humankind… – …to the Stages of Life – The Stages of Life: An Idea Comes of Age – The Midlife Crisis – Walter B. Pitkin and Edmund Bergler – Erik H. Erikson and Elliott Jaques – Gail Sheehy and Daniel J. Levinson – Other Approaches, Including the Return of the Noonday Demon – Jungian Approaches to Midlife – Literature of the Nineties – Recent French Approaches: Ιric Deschavanne and Pierre-Henri Tavoillot, Marie de Hennezel and Bertrand Vergely
Chapter 2: The Turning Point in Life: What Conflict the Sun Must Experience at Midday
PART TWO
Chapter 3: Goethe's Orphism
The Cult of Orpheus – Orpheus in the Age of Romanticism – Goethe's Relation to the Orphic Mysteries – Creuzer and Hermann, Zoega and Welcker – Faust as Orpheus – Orphism, and Primal Words
Chapter 4: Primal Words. Orphic
Daimon – Chance – Eros – The Necessity of Love; or, Erotic Necessity – The Necessity of Necessity; or, Necessary Necessity – Hope – Conclusion
About the Author:
Paul Bishop, B.A., D.Phil., studied at Oxford University and is Professor of German at the University of Glasgow. His research has focused on the intellectual background to analytical psychology. His books include Analytical Psychology and German Classical Aesthetics, Jung's "Answer to Job": A Commentary, and The Dionysian Self: C.G. Jung's Reception of Friedrich Nietzsche.
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About the Zurich Lecture Series in Analytical Psychology
The Zurich Lecture Series in Analytical Psychology has been established by the International School of Analytical Psychology Zurich (ISAPZURICH) and Spring Journal Books to present annually new work by a distinguished scholar who has previously offered innovative contributions to the field of Analytical Psychology by either:
  • bringing analytical psychology into meaningful dialogue with other scientific, artistic, and academic disciplines;
  • showing how analytical psychology can lead to a better understanding of contemporary global concerns relating to the environment, politics, religion; or
  • expanding the concepts of analytical psychology as they are applied clinically
Each year, the selected lecturer delivers 4 lectures over a 2-day period in Zurich based on a previously unpublished book-length work. This book is then published by Spring Journal Books. Murray Stein and Nancy Cater are the Series Editors.