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The Inner Reaches of Outer Space: Metaphor as Myth and as Religion (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell) Hardcover – January, 2002

4.6 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“In a time of felt mythlessness, when the culture suffers a crunching literalism in politics, in religion, and in everyday human relationships, Campbell’s little book on the metaphoric and mythic quality of life functions as a grand net of gems.”
David L. Miller, Watson-Ledden professor of religions, Syracuse University

“Campbell, who is known for speaking his mind, pulls no punches here. This book, more than any other, unambiguously delineates his basic understanding of mythology and religion....Inveterate underliners will be tempted to highlight things on virtually every page.”

“The wealth and breadth of reference in this small book is truly prodigious...as Campbell now soars like an eagle to a generalization about The Big Bang, now dives like a hawk to a precise description of the color and number of lotus petals in each of the seven centers of the chakra system, rendering both lucid in a single universe of discourse.”
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Joseph Campbell (1904–1987) is widely credited with bringing mythology to a mass audience. His works, including the four-volume The Masks of God and The Power of Myth (with Bill Moyers), rank among the classics in mythology and literature.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: New World Library; 2nd edition (January 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1577312090
  • ISBN-13: 978-1577312093
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #367,379 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) 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.

For more on Joseph Campbell and his work, visit the web site of Joseph Campbell Foundation at JCF.org.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In THE INNER REACHES OF OUTER SPACE Joseph Campbell repeats some of the familiar observations of his earlier works in which he shows how certain mythic motifs can be found buried in all of the world's religious traditions. The similarities may not be easily recognized because the same motifs are usually understood and developed in different ways because of cultural differences. These repetitive motifs are called elementary ideas and in the local forms where they appear in various religions they are known as ethnic or folk ideas. As examples of elementary ideas Campbell offers the concepts of the Promised Land and the Virgin Birth. In writing about the similarities of symbols found in ancient civilizations, Campbell mentions discoveries among such diverse societies as those that existed in the Indus Valley, Mesopotamia, Egypt, China and Ireland.
Because of the great advances in learning which have become accelerated and dramatized by space exploration, Campbell points out that our old gods are either already dead or dying. The big question now is what new mythology will emerge from a modern understanding of a unified planet amidst a vast universe.
The creation of any new mythology will certainly depend in part on the contributions of art because artists will be the ones who will produce the images of the future. Those images will come from our knowledge of a constantly changing and expanding universe. Campbell writes about the connection between art and mythology with conviction, no doubt due to the long-standing influence of his wife, Jean Erdman, a well-known dancer and choreographer.
The most remarkable feature evident in THE INNER REACHES OF OUTER SPACE is the breadth and depth of the author's knowledge and understanding of mythology. Joseph Campbell led an enviable life driven by a singular passion and his writings are the best reflection of that life.
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Format: Hardcover
This book was--the back cover says--Campbell's last. I can imagine Campbell working on the manuscript between conversations with Bill Moyers: it feels like this book works out some of the open questions raised in The Power of Myth.
What a brilliant book! By turns thought-provoking and breathtaking, I found myself rethinking many long-held ideas. And this for someone who has read and seen many Campbell works in the past.
The last chapter, The Way of Art, really flattened me. Campbell writes thoughout his work of the mythic role of the artist, but here is the clearest statement of the artist's power and responsibility.
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Format: Hardcover
Joseph Campbell introduces us to the world of mythology and reality making the case that for most of human history, they are one in the same.

I give this book 5 stars because it is the best presentation of this type of information for laymen I have found.

His writings have brought up the argument that what is lacking in America today is an education in mythology. This is something that would not only enhance an individuals life by adding value to our culture which is in my opinion too often dismissed as empty, but also would enhance our connection with our past and our future.

Joseph Campbell has influenced many people and many creative efforts. George Lucas credits Mr Campbell with making StarWars a better movie. In fact Mr Campbell's interviews with Bill Moyers (on many PBS stations) was taped at Skywalker Ranch. I found this link indranet.com/welcometoearth having searched for information about Mr Campbell.

In addition to those seeking anthropological or spiritual information, if you enjoy magical stories like Harry Potter or science fiction stories then you will enjoy The Inner Reaches of Outer Space.
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Format: Hardcover
THE INNER REACHES OF OUTER SPACE is one of the books being published by The Joseph Campbell Foundation as part of THE COLLECTED WORKS OF JOSEPH CAMPBELL. I agree with another reviewer that it makes sense to first read THOU ART THAT which is an earlier volume in this series.
Any book by Campbell will usually be loaded with insights. In THE INNER REACHES OF OUTER SPACE one of my favorite chapters deals partially with a discussion of the Infinite and in this segment the author's extensive knowledge of Eastern religions and mythology is most apparent.
After reading this book it is even easier than before to appreciate why Joseph Campbell has managed to acquire such a devoted following.
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Format: Hardcover
I know, I know, everyone will point to Campbell's astonishing Hero with a Thousand Faces, and his 4-part book series on different traditions, but I love this book. I think it's because it is Campbell in his later years, synthesizing all he has learned over decades of study, and applying it to the future. It also is one of the more accessible Campbell books in terms of folks who don't usually read high-end academic works being able to follow it without re-reading every other paragraph. (That is NOT a criticism -- Joseph Campbell packed a lot into each of his brilliant thoughts). Another book I'd recommend is the biography on him, "Fire in the Mind."
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Format: Hardcover
If you've never purchased a book by Joseph Campbell, please do yourself a favor and get this one. Yes, it's that important for you to read and understand. After this, read "Transformations of Myth and Time."
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