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The Hero with a Thousand Faces (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell) [Hardcover]

Joseph Campbell
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 28, 2008 1577315936 978-1577315933 Third
Since its release in 1949, The Hero with a Thousand Faces has influenced millions of readers by combining the insights of modern psychology with Joseph Campbell’s revolutionary understanding of comparative mythology. In these pages, Campbell outlines the Hero’s Journey, a universal motif of adventure and transformation that runs through virtually all of the world’s mythic traditions. He also explores the Cosmogonic Cycle, the mythic pattern of world creation and destruction.

As part of the Joseph Campbell Foundation’s Collected Works of Joseph Campbell, this third edition features expanded illustrations, a comprehensive bibliography, and more accessible sidebars.

As relevant today as when it was first published, The Hero with a Thousand Faces continues to find new audiences in fields ranging from religion and anthropology to literature and film studies. The book has also profoundly influenced creative artists—including authors, songwriters, game designers, and filmmakers—and continues to inspire all those interested in the inherent human need to tell stories.

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The Hero with a Thousand Faces (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell) + The Power of Myth + Pathways to Bliss: Mythology and Personal Transformation
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Editorial Reviews


“I have returned to no other book more often since leaving college than this one, and every time I discover new insight into the human journey. Every generation will find in Hero wisdom for the ages.”
— Bill Moyers

“In the three decades since I discovered The Hero with a Thousand Faces, it has continued to fascinate and inspire me. Joseph Campbell peers through centuries and shows us that we are all connected by a basic need to hear stories and understand ourselves. As a book, it is wonderful to read; as illumination into the human condition, it is a revelation.”
— George Lucas

“Campbell’s words carry extraordinary weight, not only among scholars but among a wide range of other people who find his search down mythological pathways relevant to their lives today....The book for which he is most famous, The Hero with a Thousand Faces [is] a brilliant examination, through ancient hero myths, of man’s eternal struggle for identity.”

“In the long run, the most influential book of the twentieth century may turn out to be Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces.”
— Christopher Vogler

Product Details

  • Series: The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: New World Library; Third edition (July 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1577315936
  • ISBN-13: 978-1577315933
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,157 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
53 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Humanities Scholar Writing for the Layperson January 10, 2010
By P.G.
So what is "Hero?" Campbell is a comparative mythologist, and the original title was "How to Read a Myth." While scholarly in nature, "Hero" is not a formal scholarly paper and should not be read as such. Instead, it falls in the realm of literature. Campbell was awarded the National Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Contributions to Creative Literature for "Hero." As a scholar, he was particularly proud of this fact. While the book is not necessarily an easy read, it was written for the general public. It's difficulty may account for the "snooze factor" some reviewers attribute to it. "Hero" is a broad survey of what is similar about the world's mythologies, remarkable in breadth for its length. Rather than focus on what makes us different, as most comparative religion scholars do, he chose to focus on what makes us similar. If this interests you I suggest you read it. If after you are finished you wish for more depth, I suggest you try his four volume series "Masks of God."

If you read some of the negative reviews you will get the impression Campbell tries to provide you with answers to life's great mysteries. This is false. Instead, he borrows vocabulary from a staggering variety of the world's mythologies to describe that mystery. You will also get the impression that Campbell thinks he found the one and only way to interpret mythology. This is also false. On page one of the epilogue he says, "There is no final system for the interpretation of myths, and there will never be any such thing." You may also get the impression that Campbell was a mystic or part of the New Age movement. Again, false. When asked what method of meditation he practices, he once responded, "I underline sentences." In other words, he is a scholar.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic May 9, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Ever wonder why Frodo and Harry Potter seem to have many of the same personality quirks, face similar self-doubts and challenges? Ever wonder why literally every civilizations has dragon myths? Joseph Campbell was the master of symbology and insight into mankind's quest to fashion for a road map through the journey of life on this planet.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Really? I have to say why I like this book and think it deserves five stars? Campbell spent a lifetime focused on mythology and shares his insights in language the rest of us can understand. This is the book that helped us awaken to our hard-wiring for story and how those stories are told. This is the book other how-to books are based on. This is the third time I've bought this book because someone either borrows it and doesn't return it, or I read the pages thin.

Highly recommended for anybody setting out on their own journey as a storyteller, those interested in mythology and comparative religion, and those curious about how the human condition expresses itself.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Campbell June 18, 2013
Campbell lived in another time, and so sometimes his vocabulary may not entirely translate. However the ideas and the careful, methodical thought he puts into his writing is priceless. It is clear that he wishes to help us all to "follow our bliss". Through the medium of mythology, Campbell truly explores the deepest need in us live a meaningful and love filled life. Genius.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gifted... April 24, 2009
By Moses
Joseph Campbell's insights and life testimonie's bring the human condition into absolute focus...truly a wise and kind teacher of the ages. Thanks!
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22 of 31 people found the following review helpful
As someone who loves reading and studying myths, folktales, sagas, epics, etc. from around the world (and as someone who enjoyed reading Campbell's thoughts regarding the "Sacred" and "Profane"), I expected that I would have little but high praise for this book; in fact, I was quite excited to begin reading it. However, having finished reading The Hero with a Thousand Faces, I find myself slightly confused at why the book is so highly regarded. I don't want to spend a lot of time writing this--my goal is not to "pick on" the text (although I will admit that I am highly critical of it), merely to prevent disappointment in readers with expectations like my own--so I will list things.

--As other reviewers have noted, Campbell relies heavily on Freud, Jung, etc. Even though I am not terribly fond of psychoanalytic readings (I respect literary psychoanalysis as a valid interpretive model, but have mixed feelings on its use), I actually thought that Campbell's relating myths/tales to dreams and everyday symbology was one of the highlights of the text and was indeed quite clever (although not wholly original). Nonetheless, I felt that Campbell too often adduces the arbitrary dreams of unknown, everyday people as evidence for his claims: firstly, there are millions upon millions of people experiencing dreams each day, so to support any argument based on a handful of dreams (even if they are in many ways archetypal) seems imprudent at best; secondly, his interpretations of the dreams are very monochromatic, i.e. he explains them as clear-cut, black-and-white representations of his expostulations. His symbols, I think, are too one-to-one and "clean" to be convincing.

--Many of Campbell's claims are not justified.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Hero's Journey May 25, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have wanted to read this book for a long time and I finished it in a day and a half. I've begun the second reading and will be more methodical on this read. The great thing about this book is that you don't read it once, it can read over and over again. Once you know that as a writer, that all stories have been written and re-written all you have to do is come up with new places and characters to create a new Hero's journey. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a writer or to someone just wanting to understand story telling in an in depth way.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars real
Published 3 days ago by Maryann Karaczun
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 5 days ago by Mahima Saigal
5.0 out of 5 stars It is a wonderful resource to assist him in understanding human nature...
Bought to support and encourage my son interest in writing. It is a wonderful resource to assist him in understanding human nature and the the structure of story design
Published 6 days ago by A. Morison
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a must read for anyone who wants to know more about the Hero's...
I had heard a lot about the Hero's Journey before I knew what it was or that I was having one myself. Joseph Campbell's words inspired me before I even read this book. Read more
Published 15 days ago by K. Williams
4.0 out of 5 stars A terrific insight into creating personalities for writing
An up-and-coming screenwriter must have everything soluble to assist in success. This is one of the essentials of becoming a screenwriter with sustenance.
Published 1 month ago by Michelle J. Brewer
4.0 out of 5 stars The Hero with a Thousand Faces (The Collected Works of Joseph...
Campbell's "Hero" book comunicates on a number of levels, Intellectual, spiritual and emotional. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Thomas P. Grady
5.0 out of 5 stars The Hero with a Thousand Faces
Who doesn't like Joseph Campbell? Anyone who says they don't, clearly have no clue of the contributions this man has made to society. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Laura A
5.0 out of 5 stars we are all the hero
"If no two hands are alike... then what is good for Harry is not good for Tom"

This book is not for everyone, but if you are a skilled reader, with an open mind,... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mike Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars The Hero with a Thousand Faces
This book was a gift. The rating is the recipient's evaluation. I defer to his evaluation of the contents of the book.
Published 3 months ago by Terri Rogers
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit disappointing
I had been wanting to read this for the longest time and I must've read other more interesting and updated books on the way here, because "Hero with a Thousand Faces"... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Elisa M. J. Garza
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Topic From this Discussion
How does this new version differ from earlier printings?
This edition includes additional (and improved) images, an annotated bibliography, and updated formatting that integrates Campbell's fascinating if discursive footnotes into the text, so that it is easier to catch some of the sidelights that he throws on his main thesis, while still following the... Read More
Aug 7, 2008 by David Kudler |  See all 3 posts
Needs An eBook Version
Seconded, don't know why some amazon pages for non e-books allow you to request/vote for an e-book copy.
Jul 16, 2013 by Wayne Pozzi |  See all 2 posts
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