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

4.8 out of 5 stars 97 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jospeh Campbell was born on March 26th in 1904, in White Plains, NY. As a child in New York, Campbell became interested in Native Americans and mythology through books about American Indians and visits to the American Museum of Natural History. Campbell attended Iona, a private school in Westchester NY, before his mother enrolled him at Canterbury, a Catholic residential school in New Milford CT. He graduated from Canterbury in 1921, and the following September, entered Dartmouth College; he soon dropped out and transferred to Columbia University, where he excelled. While specializing in medieval literature, he played in a jazz band, and became a star runner. After earning a B.A. from Columbia in 1925, and receiving an M.A. in 1927 for his work in Arthurian Studies, Campbell was awarded a Proudfit Traveling Fellowship to continue his studies at the University of Paris, studying medieval French and Sanskrit in Paris and Germany. After he had received and rejected an offer to teach at his high school alma mater, his Fellowship was renewed, and he traveled to Germany to resume his studies at the University of Munich. After travelling for some time, seeing the world, he was offered a teaching position at the Canterbury School. He returned to the East Coast, where he endured an unhappy year as a Canterbury housemaster, but sold his first short story, Strictly Platonic, to Liberty magazine. Then, in 1933, he moved to Woodstock NY, where he spent a year reading and writing. In 1934, he was offered and accepted a position in the literature department at Sarah Lawrence College, a post he would retain for thirty-eight years. His first, full-length title, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, was published to acclaim and brought him numerous awards and honors, among them the National Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Contributions to Creative Literature. During the 1940s and 1950s he collaborated with Swami Nikhilananda on translations of the Upanishads and The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. Over the years, he edited The Portable Arabian Nights and was general editor of the series Man and Myth. In 1956, he was invited to speak at the State Departments Foreign Service Institute. His talks were so well-received, that he was invited back annually for the next seventeen years. In the mid-1950s, he also undertook a series of public lectures at Cooper Union in New York City; these talks drew an ever-larger, audience, and soon became a regular event. In 1985, Campbell was awarded the National Arts Club Gold Medal of Honor in Literature. Campbell wrote more than 40 books including The Hero with a Thousand Faces, The Mythic Image, and The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers, and is now considered one of the foremost interpreters of sacred tradition in modern time. Joseph Camppbell died in 1987 after a brief struggle with cancer.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (May 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060926171
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060926175
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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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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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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