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Joseph Campbell: A Fire in the Mind Paperback – April 1, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Joseph Campbell was an amazing, abundant, humane man. This book, by incorporating his journals, letters, and a massive offering of his intellectual sources, helps us understand how, in this half-dead world, such a character comes to be." (Robert Bly, poet and mythologist)

"A marvelous account of the life of a man who fell in love with stories and became our greatest teller of timeless myths. A feast for the mind, the imagination, and the heart." (Sam Keen, author of Fire in the Belly)

"Joseph Campbell: A Fire in the Mind ignites the soul of the reader with immortal longings. To read it is to swim in a river of old with Joseph Campbell, whose capacity for knowledge was as vast as his passion for living. This potent telling of the quest of one who brought life to myth and myth to life is the book of the year." (Jean Houston, author of The Search for the Beloved)

From the Back Cover

MYTHOLOGY / BIOGRAPHY

“A marvelous account of the life of a man who fell in love with stories and became our greatest teller of timeless myths. A feast for the mind, the imagination, and the heart.”
--Sam Keen, author of Fire in the Belly

“Joseph Campbell was an amazing, abundant, humane man. This book, by incorporating his journals, letters, and a massive offering of his intellectual sources, helps us understand how, in this half-dead world, such a character comes to be.”
--Robert Bly, poet and author of Iron John: A Book About Men

Joseph Campbell: A Fire in the Mind ignites the soul of the reader with immortal longings. To read it is to swim in a river of old with Joseph Campbell, whose capacity for knowledge was as vast as his passion for living. [It is a] potent telling of the quest of one who brought life to myth and myth to life.”
--Jean Houston, author of The Search for the Beloved

Joseph Campbell forged an approach to the study of myth and legend that made ancient traditions and beliefs immediate, relevant, and universal. His teachings and literary works, including The Masks of God, have shown that beneath the apparent themes of world mythology lie patterns that reveal the ways in which we all may encounter the great mysteries of existence: birth, growth, soul development, and death. Biographers Stephen and Robin Larsen were students and friends of Campbell for more than twenty years. With exclusive access to his personal papers and journals, they weave a rich tapestry of stories and insights that catalogue both his personal and public triumphs.

STEPHEN LARSEN, Ph.D., is the author of The Shaman’s Doorway and The Mythic Imagination. He is a practicing psychotherapist and Professor Emeritus of Psychology at SUNY (Ulster). Robin Larsen, Ph.D., is an exhibiting artist and art historian. She is editor-in-chief of the tricentennial biography and anthology Emanuel Swedenborg: A Continuing Vision. The Larsens co-direct the Center for Symbolic Studies in New Paltz, New York.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Inner Traditions (April 30, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0892818735
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892818730
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,042,825 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
After viewing his lectures on video and watching the interviews with Bill Moyers I became increasing curious about Joseph Campbell, the man, not just the scholar and how one could devote his life to his work.
This authorized biography does not disappoint. It is a wealth of information from personal journals, letters, interviews with friends and family, most generously provided by his widow, Jean Erdman Campbell.
Yes, it is a lengthy tome since it is chronicaling the life and works of one of this centuries most prolific writers and original thinkers, well worth the time it's taken to read it.
Joseph Campbell, the eldest of three, had progressive parents who recognized their childrens natural talents and provided the best education to ameliorate their gifts. As I read, I was impressed how from a young age, Joseph Campbell viewed his world and continued to pursue answers to questions, and in turn, enlighten others through his lectures and writings.
His relationship with friends, colleagues, mentors and his wife is tightly woven into this biography, he was grateful for all the support he received from his "fans." I was constantly surprised with whom he met along his life's path, John Steinbeck, Carl G. Jung to name a few.
I am now embarking on reading Jung, influenced by Joseph Campbells admiration of his works and contributions to the study of the psyche. Hoping to open a new way of thinking myself.
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Format: Paperback
Since Joseph Campell was such a prolific writer of journals, letters, essays and books, this book was able to capture, in such detail, not only his life events but also the evolution of his studies and thoughts about myth, art, religion and the world. I originally checked this book out at the library but I am buying it as a reference guide because it touches on so many fascinating points about religion and the most prominent spiritual leaders in the last century.
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I had already borrowed this twice from our library but it has soooo much in it that I wanted to own it if possible.
Thanks to Amazon it has been possible.
This is a book that you have to commit yourself to in reading. There is so much beauty of thought and depth of philosophy that it is something one wants to return to over and over.
I am grateful to Amazon and the seller for making it possible for me to add it to my library.
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Joseph Campbell has been walking beside me since I read Hero with a Thousand Faces in the early 70s, which was then the bible for the yoga society I was initiated into. I met him at a small lecture in Cleveland sometime that decade, and bought and read his Mask of God books. But I didn't know Joseph Campbell the individual until I read this book, which is a master piece of weaving Campbell's early journals and correspondence into an necklace of jewels that now seem to hang around my neck like a mala. Campbell's life path and his writing are perfectly blended in this book so that his teaching of the underlying mythos that informs each of our lives is brought to the surface of consciousness and given to you as a gift from the Goddess Herself.

I cried when the hero dies at the end of this book, and even as I write these words my heart catches and holds this delicious sorrow. During this week as I finished the book I was also watching the DVD set of Mythos I got for Christmas. I recommend your doing this: invest in both the book and one of his DVD lectures. Reread Hero, if you have not already read it. Awaken the power of Mythos within you and as Campbell says: Follow your Bliss.
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Format: Paperback
Fans of Joseph Campbell may gain additional insight into how to live an authentic life by considering the chance occurrences in his life and the choices he made from an early age.

His anxiety regarding various life changing situations and the consequent choices offer a rare insight to those who enjoy (suffer?) the artist's temperament.

The Larsens have presented a satisfying panorama of Joseph Campbell's life. I wonder how they were able to choose from the wealth of information available, but am grateful for their work.
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I'm a devoted Campbell fan who has read many of his books (including the Masks of God series) over the years. But who was the man behind all these powerful ideas? What drove him to explore the power of myth? And given his remarkable insight into the universal nature of hero's journey, what did his own personal journey look like?

This book is a fascinating read that is well-written, comprehensive, and informative. Through understanding the life and experiences of Joseph Campbell, I've been able to contextualize his ideas and philosophy and gain a deeper insight into what drove him and how he understood the world.

It's a great read, and essential for any serious fan of his work.
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The book was thorough, incredibly well researched and annotated. Therefore, as a launching off place for someone doing research into Campbell's life and work, it is a great place to start. The whole sweep of this truly maverick thinker's life and career is here, who the major players were, where and when he traveled, wrote, etc. As thorough as the book is on the externals of Campbell's life, however, it was decidedly thin on insight as to the workings of the inner man. Perhaps this was done because the book was the "authorized autobiography" and whoever was doing the authorizing didn't want it, or perhaps it was done in deference to Campbell himself who, according to the authors, was vehemently opposed to speaking or writing about himself autobiographically. To Campbell, the work was all that mattered and he, the man, was of little to no significance. It's fine for Campbell to have taken that attitude, but not, in my opinion, for the authors. By failing to more thoroughly plumb the depths of Campbell's early life experiences, especially in regard to his fraught relationships with his parents and ne'er-do-well brother, the authors shortchange the reader of an essential aspect to understanding the life of their subject and the body of work he created. Campbell was a man of tremendous energy, discipline, imagination, ambition and drive. The body of mythological and religious study he created showed connection among humankind across time and cultures in a way that had never been done before. Campbell's capacity to do that, indeed, his need to do that, didn't come out of nothing.
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