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The Hero's Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell) Hardcover – August 27, 2003


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Product Details

  • Series: The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: New World Library; 3rd edition (August 27, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1577314042
  • ISBN-13: 978-1577314042
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 1 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #646,552 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The man behind the myth is lovingly revealed in this collection of interviews with the late Joseph Campbell. Using Campbell's format for the "hero's journey," editor Phil Cousineau organized these interviews so that they reflect Campbell's own chronological life quest. He begins with "The Call to Adventure," in which Campbell speaks to his fascination with Native American myth as a child, and moves through "The Road of Trials" (his years in college and as a young professor at Sarah Lawrence) and the "Meeting with the Goddess" (referring to meeting his wife of 50 years, the modern dancer Jean Erdman). Since most of the book is written in a question and answer format (with a few excerpts from lectures), much of the text is in Campbell's own words. It is a feast for any fan to hear Campbell speak so personally about his own life while also imparting his usual insight and wisdom on every topic he discusses.

A few morsels of this feast can be found in the following tidbits: for example, readers may be surprised to discover that Campbell considered his half-mile track races in college to be the "peak" experiences of his life. (Campbell was an esteemed track star at Columbia University in the mid-1920s.) Or that it was the famous Paris-dweller and bookseller Sylvia Beach who helped Campbell understand the meaning behind Ulysses in 1928 and was influential in steering Campbell into the realm of mythology and heroes. Or that Campbell believed that his uncanny ability to relate myths to contemporary life came from teaching female students at Sarah Lawrence. "They always wanted the material to relate to themselves, to life," he explained to interviewer Stuart Brown. "I attribute the popular aspects of my writing to the training I got from these students." Or that The Hero with a Thousand Faces inspired numerous artists, including George Lucas of Star Wars fame and Richard Adams, author of Watership Down.

This is also a generously illustrated book, with numerous photos of Campbell, many of which are shown in their authentic sepia tones. Numerous full-color images of famous artwork and images speak to each mythological theme in the book, such as the "Death of Socrates" (Jacques Louis David, 1787) and the painting of "Sacred and Profane" (Titan, circa 1514). --Gail Hudson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Fans of Joseph Campbell's books on comparative myth and religion will enjoy this amalgam of interviews, speeches and conversations, a spin-off of a film documentary of the same title produced by Cousineau. A spiritual autobiography of sorts, the book ranges widely, from Cro-Magnon art to Arthurian legend to marriage as a "sacrificial field," as it follows Campbell from his Catholic boyhood and early interest in American Indians to his years in Paris and Munich, through his travels and teaching at Sarah Lawrence. We watch as he discusses poetry with Robert Bly and meets Jung, who explains to him the meaning of the Hindu syllable "Om." Campbell's comments are quotable: "If marriage isn't a first priority in your life, you're not married." His prompting to "follow your bliss" here takes on the meaning of working out one's inner myths to gain a sense of direction. Photos.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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A good book to look back on!
Amazon Customer
In this delightful collection of archival interviews, Joseph Campbell's life is presented within the framework of his own creation - "The Hero's Journey."
Lauri Lumby
Also, it was surprisingly easy to read and was actually interesting!
Lauren

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Each chapter of this book begins with a biographical narrative, followed by excerpts from myriad interviews with Campbell, organized in such a way that the interview topics follow the biographical line of the book. Jean Erdman, Stuart Brown, Phil Cousineau, Robert Bly, John Densmore and many more appear in the interviews with Campbell. The book also contains a complete timeline of Campbell's life and a list of books written or edited by Campbell.
Note that this is a collection and is not as comprehensive a biography as 'A Fire In The Mind.' But what it misses in magnitude and detail, it makes up for in presentation. The book lends itself to both the page-through and in-depth readers. It is full of photographs (some full page)and highlights many of Campbell's memorable quotes.
In a beautifully written introduction, Phil Cousineau refers to Campbell as the "ecstatic scholar", an "animateur" who was capable of evoking "the telling shiver of truth about your own life." This book re-animates Campbell's work and he is capable as ever, through the interviews on these pages, of speaking to the heart of his listeners and reawakening the mysteries of life with enthusiasm and awe.
(I do also recommend 'A Fire In The Mind,' which contains details of Campbell's life and excerpts from his personal journals that are not included in this work.)
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By John McConnell on July 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
For those who once bemoaned there being no autobiography by (or biography of) Joseph Campbell this book fills a void. For those who have watched The Power of Myth videos, and read several Joseph Campbell books, this collection of high-power dialogues with Campbell is no disappointment. No intimate details are given of Campbell's life, however, When asked for autobiographical details during one session, Campbell responds (more or less): "That's biography, and I don't do biography".

Campbell relays several anecdotes of his friends Robinson and Zimmer, and gives honorable mention to the Bollingen Press and Sarah Lawrence College for crucial assistance in his career development. Particularly of interest are the frequent remarks concerning, and discussions with, his wife (and former student) Jean Erdman.

While many of Campbell's remarks are near-verbatim replies heard in The Power of Myth videos, some are unreleased gems: There are two kinds of people in this world - those who know their myth is a fact (the orthodox religious) and those who know their myth is a lie (the atheists)- both KNOW that their myth is most certainly NOT a metaphor. While insightful, Reader Be Warned that while Campbell is a magnificent Humanities guru he is an abysmal theologian - a Modernist who claimed God never spoke to man and that all religions are simply metaphors of a great unknown spiritual mystery.

Good book.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Rob Brennan on March 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I read this as one who was unfamiliar with Joseph Campbell and his remarkable insights into myths and their role in our lives.

The claim is made in the book that at some time in the 1980s, seven or eight of the top ten grossing films of all time were in some way based on material originating in Campbell's books. That makes Campbell a man whose thoughts are worth learning about.

The book is in general fairly easy reading, since much of it is transcribed from conversations involving Campbell. Quotable quotes abound: "myths have to do with how you live your life", "the young male is a compulsively violent piece of biology", "when people say they're looking for the meaning of life, what they're really looking for is a deep experience of it", "the best thing I can say is follow your bliss".

If you want to be inspired by a life lived thoughtfully and well, you should find this book rewarding.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Those are the only words I can think of to describe this fabulous book! Not only do you get a picture of Campbell the man in a way you can't elsewhere, except maybe in the diaries of his Asian trips, but you also get a wonderful insight into the mythology that was his life's work. It's like being able to look through both sides of a lens at once!
There are lovely pictures of Campbell, his friends and family that are literally breathtaking--they are part of that lens.
The book itself is made up of a series of conversations and panel discussions involving Campbell and a number of his friends and colleagues--including his wife, choreographer Jean Erdman and artists like George Lucas, Robert Bly and Richard Adams. It is structured so that it follows Campbell's life story in the shape of his Hero Journey, as laid out in Hero with a Thousand Faces.
The cover announces this as the Centennial Edition, which alerted me to the fact that Campbell would have been 100 this upcoming March. What a wonderful way to celebrate the life of a man whose joy (bliss) has inspired so many, and to take more inspiration from his ideas.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By KerrLaw on December 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Joseph Campbell was (and is) a great synthesizer; He connects the pieces of our world that we have disconnected with our thoughts and emotions. A profoundly needed, yet sadly elusive, understanding of the human condition.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Camelia S. Marvel on June 29, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Joseph Campbell personifies what it means to live as an integrated human being. In fact, he is unabashedly human.

While it may be tempting to read this brief introduction and summary of his life, philosophy,and work with a critical eye, it would be more growth-promoting to non-judgementally go for the ride. One may say he led a charmed life, but it was a life he chose and sacrificed for. By making the choices he made, he set in motion the theory which has come to personify his life: Follow your bliss and what you need will follow.

Nor does Campbell claim it will be a path strewn with roses. On the contrary, the task for each initiate is to maneuver the virign path, replete with challenges and rejection. A reductionistic position toward his life and work neglects the unknown day-to-day struggles we all confront. No one, but no one is able to avoid this one fact of life, regardless of socio-economic bracket or level of personal/professional success.

Would you like to read something new, something well-thought out? If yes, read this book. Do you want to take the easy road and criticize? If yes, good luck with that. This man spent five Great Depression years studying classical works within multiple genres. On a full-time basis. That would translate into twenty years of our current attention span. Crib notes will be useless - This is not a coctail party.

Criticism is easy. You need not agree. What is life but reveling in the differences? He who cannot draw on three thousand years is living from hand to mouth [Goethe]. Take a trip with Joseph Campbell. What's the worst that can happen?

CS Marvel
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