The Hero With A Thousand Faces

The Hero With A Thousand Faces

Book - 1956 1949
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Publisher: New York : Meridian Books, 1956 [©1949]
Characteristics: xxiii, 416 pages : illustrations ; 19 cm


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Nov 12, 2018

The PBS series "The Power of Myth" brought Campbell's understanding of myths to a wider public audience. Forty years after he wrote "The Hero with a Thousand Faces", Campbell saw the contemporary mythology as global as, perhaps, exemplified by Superman and Luke Skywalker.

Aug 24, 2018

Very good

Aug 07, 2018

Unfortunately the library only has one copy of his book and this copy wasn’t available for some time. This is Joseph Campbell’s titular work regarding the hero motif that is found in most cultures and religious traditions. Hence, the title of the book, but what Campbell tried to understand is why humanity relies on heroes and craves heroes. This book is relavant today as we see so many nations want a hero to save them in some way.

May 07, 2018

Recommended by Ray Dalio in book Principles

May 06, 2016

Just what I was looking for!

Nov 20, 2014

A modern classic of scholarship, without resorting to obscurity. Provides a plausible theory to comprehend myths from all traditions.

Feb 11, 2012

Excellent. Unravels the real you behind the masks that you continuosly wear, consciously or unconsciously until it it is too late.

May 18, 2010

I cannot believe anyone would read this book, understand it, and rate it anything less than a 4.5 - it's absolutely fantastic.

The reader might take issue with the emphasis on psychoanalysis, since (as I understand it) that field of psychology has been discredited by now; the reader might also point out that Campbell makes a few logical leaps. A particularly knowledgeable reader might even point out that the structural similarities across global myths are more likely due to cross-cultural pollination rather than deep, latent dream-imagery residing within the human mind. But trust me, these criticisms do not affect the quality or the insight of this book one bit.

The point of the monomyth that Campbell sets out in this book is not to 'explain away' the powerful impact of myth, and his theory is not the endpoint of an examination of myth. It should not even be read as an interpretive framework for reading myths. Above all, the reader should not view the monomyth structure as a suggestion for future works - Star Wars and Harry Potter, as well as countless inferior works, all partake of Campbell's blueprint - because such a position is hopelessly reductive and won't get anyone anywhere.

Rather, the reader should appreciate this book for two reasons: as a general primer on comparative mythology that leads to some fascinating works, such as the Prose or Poetic Eddas or the Devi Mathatmyam, which are the fascinating and evocative epics of other cultures. The second and even more compelling reason to read this book is the quality of Campbell's prose itself; he really is a master. Read his work in the right spirit and you will feel an immense and delicious calm steal over you - one or two pages, if not paragraphs, are all that are required to feel deeply at peace. Campbell studied the holy books of various civilizations as well as their myths (if it is possible to separate the two - Campbell would say that both lead to the same profound lessons) and his style reflects that. Some passages are exciting, some inspiring, some restful.



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Nov 11, 2018

[Written shortly after the Second World War, Campbell says] " ... The community today is the planet, not the bounded nation ... The national idea, with the flag as totem ... the patriots whose ubiquitous photographs, draped with flags, serve as official icons - are precisely the local threshold guardians ... whom it is the first problem of the hero to surpass. (p. 359) ... a transmutation of the whole social order is necessary, so that through every detail and act of secular life the vitalizing image of the universal god-man who is actually immanent ... in all of us may be somehow made known to consciousness. (p. 360) ... "LIve,", Nietzsche says, "as though the day were here." It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse. ... everyone of us shares the supreme ordeal ... (p. 362).


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