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Reflections on the Art of Living: A Joseph Campbell Companion Paperback – May 12, 1995


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Reflections on the Art of Living: A Joseph Campbell Companion + The Hero with a Thousand Faces (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell) + The Power of Myth
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (May 12, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060926171
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060926175
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 4.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joseph Campbell was an American author and teacher best known for his work in the field of comparative mythology. He was born in New York City in 1904, and from early childhood he became interested in mythology. He loved to read books about American Indian cultures, and frequently visited the American Museum of Natural History in New York, where he was fascinated by the museum's collection of totem poles. Campbell was educated at Columbia University, where he specialized in medieval literature, and continued his studies at universities in Paris and Munich. While abroad he was influenced by the art of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, the novels of James Joyce and Thomas Mann, and the psychological studies of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. These encounters led to Campbell's theory that all myths and epics are linked in the human psyche, and that they are cultural manifestations of the universal need to explain social, cosmological, and spiritual realities.
After a period in California, where he encountered John Steinbeck and the biologist Ed Ricketts, he taught at the Canterbury School, and then, in 1934, joined the literature department at Sarah Lawrence College, a post he retained for many years. During the 40s and '50s, he helped Swami Nikhilananda to translate the Upanishads and The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. He also edited works by the German scholar Heinrich Zimmer on Indian art, myths, and philosophy. In 1944, with Henry Morton Robinson, Campbell published A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake. His first original work, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, came out in 1949 and was immediately well received; in time, it became acclaimed as a classic. In this study of the "myth of the hero," Campbell asserted that there is a single pattern of heroic journey and that all cultures share this essential pattern in their various heroic myths. In his book he also outlined the basic conditions, stages, and results of the archetypal hero's journey.
Throughout his life, he traveled extensively and wrote prolifically, authoring many books, including the four-volume series The Masks of God, Myths to Live By, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space and The Historical Atlas of World Mythology. Joseph Campbell died in 1987. In 1988, a series of television interviews with Bill Moyers, The Power of Myth, introduced Campbell's views to millions of people.

Customer Reviews

Joseph Campbell's life is an excellent example of the true art of living.
E. Kane
It's the kind of book that you can open to any page, read only a few lines, and be pulled into a thought that will chase you the whole day.
E. E. Suranie
I have been a fan of J. Campbell since seeing his PBS interview with Bill Moyer.
SLB

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

139 of 141 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 16, 1998
Format: Paperback
I was hooked after the first sentence: "The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are". Campbell talks to us about work and love and the meaning of life with such clarity that we can't argue, or say "Yes, but..." When Campbell is just talking (and not in college professor lecture mode) he gives tidbits that are reminiscent of Lindbergh's "Gift From The Sea". "Let the world be as it is and learn to rock with the waves." And maybe you can learn something about people in your life. "In choosing your god, you choose your way of looking at the universe. There are plenty of gods...The god you worship is the god you deserve." This is definitely a book to keep and re-read. My favorite thing about it is that you can flip through it, or let it fall open, and you'll find something worthwhile. You don't have to read the whole book all at once to 'get it'.
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97 of 101 people found the following review helpful By E. E. Suranie on March 7, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the most challenging, thought provoking, mind bending, and soul calling books I have ever read. Campbell is so entertaining in his ability to simplify complex religious and social structures that it is not important to already know about the Far East, the Near East, or your local Baptist church, he brings it all into focus on a common human level. I found this book disturbing in it's ability to draw me into the wonder of being human and how utterly connected we all are. It's the kind of book that you can open to any page, read only a few lines, and be pulled into a thought that will chase you the whole day. Campbell is pithy, humorous, practical, fact filled, and inspiring. If you enjoy thinking about God, the nature of being human, or politics, BUY THIS BOOK!!!! You won't be sorry.
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147 of 160 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 10, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is a great introduction to, or summation of, Campbell's works. Most of his works are extreemly deep and can be difficult to reach but well worth the effort. If you really want to probe the deapths of Campbell's work but are intimidated by his other books, this will give you a great overview and fire your desire to dig deeper.
I have read all of Campbell's books. The amount and breadth of the information and thier implications is staggering. The most amazing thing about this book is that I would have chosen almost exactly the same summative material for this type of book as did Osborn. My background is steeped in science--Osborn's in poetry. Yet we found the same "song of the universe" within Campbell's works.
Why? Because the song is transparent to the transendent and there for the everyone.
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Donald F. Lessnau on October 5, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Outstanding. This is my Bible. Unbelievable wealth of things to read and re-read for the rest of your life. His best work by far. Almost as good is his 5-tape series hosted by Susan Sarandon and much, much better than his 6-tape set with Bill Moyers which is an elementary introduction to Campbell. Moyers tried hard but couldn't seem to get his brain around Campbell's message. Anyone who wants to be fully engrossed in Campbell can do so with the Sarandon tape series and this book. A rare jewel.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By John Patrick Morgan on February 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I was first introduced to this book after I had knee surgery and was forced to lay on my butt and keep relatively inactive. I have to admit, I was feeling a little sorry for myself thinking and feeling that somehow I was being cheated by the universe in some way. So my friend comes over with this book and starts reading me sections out of it...
He reads outloud, "The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are..."
Immediately my consciousness elevated. I said, "What did you just say?"
He repeated, "The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are..."
"Oh, my...that's an amazing thought...oh, I really like that..."
And even though he continued to read on, my mind and my heart stayed with that one nugget of pure gold. I let this idea permeate my whole being. It was just what I needed to hear. My surgery was not about punishment, it was about using it in a way that would/could serve me in greater ways than I was able to forsee at the time.
My friend left and I immediately hobbled over to the computer and ordered this book. In about three days (interesting symbology itself) it arrived and I began to not just read this book but devour it with all of my heart, mind, and soul. I really feel that the essence behind the words contributed greatly to my healing...not just with my knee, but in other areas that I might have previously let go unaddressed.
I give copies of this book to people for their birthdays and I always inscribe this message, "....because the privilege of a lifetime is being exactly who and what you are!"
Let this and the other wondrous truths that can be discovered in this beautiful book sink into your mind, your heart, and soul.Remind yourself that it is a privilege of a lifetime to be who you are and then attempt to realize with real eyes that this is the truth of everyone and everything despite what the appearances may look like! Facts change but the Truth lives on forever...
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By H. Rose on March 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
After my mom died I needed something. I KNEW inately that this was the way of the world, the way of life but I needed someone to confirm that for me. I knew it was 'fair' and that life is what it is and that we have to be who we are as we move through it. (Maybe I got all that kind of thing from the many many times I watched the interview of JC with Bill Moyers many years ago.) Someone on a book group mentioned this book to me so I ordered it, and I read it. And it helped me to accept the world when it is painful. "... participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world."

Thanks for this book. It's a keeper.

I also want to say that while everyone here seems to mention how good the book is in distilling his work with myths and religion and whatnot, no one seems to mention that it's a darn good book to read when you needed something life affirming.

The world is perfect. It's a mess. It's always been a mess and that's perfect.
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