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The Hero with a Thousand Faces (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell) Hardcover – July 28, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-1577315933 ISBN-10: 1577315936 Edition: Third

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“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.”
Time

“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
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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: 1 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (283 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,270 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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

A complex book to read but very interesting and enlightening!!
Gerry
It's amazing how Joseph Campbell brings together stories from various cultures, all basically depicting the hero's journey in one shape or another.
Ramona B.
I have wanted to read this book for a long time and I finished it in a day and a half.
David M. Brown

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

521 of 550 people found the following review helpful By Will Errickson on April 27, 1998
Format: Paperback
Joseph Campbell was one of the great souls of our age. I've read this book twice, first on my own and the second for a class in "Myth, Religion & the Mythic Imagination." I read the paperack to tatters, literally, marking each illuminating, exhilirating insight. "Dry"? "Not a fun read"? What book did YOU read? Campbell is unlike other writers on myth; he looks not at an entire myth but at its parts. By the end of the book, he has essentially created the Ultimate Hero Myth, which takes bits of every hero myth from virtually every culture (heavy on Native Americans). Campbell was not a dispassionate academic--this was his gospel, and he lived by it. This book is alive and inspiring like no other book I know. One unique aspect of it at the time it was published was its approach to Christianity. For Campbell, Christ's life had to be seen as a myth. Before him, most Western scholars wouldn't have dare to say such a thing. Others had written on that, but in a skeptical manner. Campbell's view is that the Virgin Birth, miracles, Resurrection, etc have meaning only because they ARE myths. Look, there'd be no "Star Wars" without this. No "Sandman" comics from Neil Gaiman. No "Watership Down." This book is for the intellectual who wants to LIVE, not just to sit sterile at the desk. Recommended like mad.
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158 of 169 people found the following review helpful By OAKSHAMAN VINE VOICE on July 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
First of all, I feel inadequate and unworthy to review this book, but since Amazon has given me the chance, all I can say is that this is one of the greatest Books (with a capital "B") of my experience. I suspect that it shall be recognised as one of the single greatest products to come out of 20th century American letters.

No, I'm not setting Campbell up as a prophet or anything like that, indeed, I suspect that this book's greatness lies in the eternal truths that transcend Campbell's individual personality. He just managed to tap into them- thank God.

The entire book deals with the hero's journey. This is the Monomyth shared by all cultures- and indeed seems to be a direct inspiration from the cosmos itself by way of the collective unconscious. Here we have the eternal cycle of 1) the call to adventure; 2) the crossing of the threshold; 3) the tests, trials, and helpers; 4) the sacred marriage, apotheosis (becoming one with god), or elixir theft; 5)the flight 6) recrossing/ressurection; and 7) the return to society with hard won gifts. He examines all of these elements in depth with a wealth of cross-cultural examples. The first half of the book deals with this cycle on a more individual and personal level (the microcosm), while the second half deals with the greater cosmogonic importance (the macrocosm.)

Now, the really amazing part of all this is that virtually all of it comes across as meaningful, interesting, and totally nonacademic. That's why academic types hate Campbell, and his mentor Jung,- they know that Campbell's and Jung's works will endure and be read a thousand years from now, while their own monographs will be justly forgotten. There are a lot of mediocre Ph.
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246 of 274 people found the following review helpful By Robert Kall VINE VOICE on August 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
All may roads may lead to Rome, but for me, this year, all books seemed to lead to Joseph Campbell's Hero With 1000 Faces.
I have discovered that this book is probably one of the most influential, widely read books of the 20th century. It's no wonder the author, Joseph Campbell, was featured in a Bill Moyers special on The Power of Myth (with an accompanying book, as usual for Bill Moyer's specials.)
I was reading books on writing-- on story structure-- Particularly, Christopher Vogler's excellent Writer's Journey, and it was based on this book. Ironically, I was already reading another of Campbell's series of books on myth. But then I started looking deeper into this realm-- the idea of the Hero's journey, -- the call to adventure, refusing the call, finding a mentor, encountering threshold guardians, crossing the threshold, facing the worst evil, winning the elixir--- and I discovered that dozens of books have been written about the concepts Joseph Campbell first broached.
It's such a powerful idea, and so useful in conceptualizing life's changes. I used it as an element in a presentation I just gave this past weekend on how the art and science of story can be applied to healing and helping people grow. 80% of the people attending the lecture were familiar with the concept.
This is such powerful material, you might consider essential for helping you understand the way movies are made, and how the contemporary world has been affected by advertising and the loss of sacred rituals in everyday life.
One way I gauge a book is by how many marks I make in the margins, to indicate wise ideas or quotable material ( I collect quotes, and quotation books big-time, owning over 400 quotation books) and this book's margins are just packed.
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94 of 105 people found the following review helpful By P.G. on January 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
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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