- 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: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (461 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Hero with a Thousand Faces (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell) Third Edition
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Originally written by Campbell in the '40s-- in his pre-Bill Moyers days -- and famous as George Lucas' inspiration for "Star Wars," this book will likewise inspire any writer or reader in its well considered assertion that while all stories have already been told, this is *not* a bad thing, since the *retelling* is still necessary. And while our own life's journey must always be ended alone, the travel is undertaken in the company not only of immediate loved ones and primal passion, but of the heroes and heroines -- and myth-cycles -- that have preceded us.
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.”
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.”
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Top Customer Reviews
If you are a curious individual or student of history, then you'll find The Hero With A Thousand Faces to be a fascinating read as the author probes deeply into the origins and significance of mythology from epistemological, ontological, psychological, and teleological perspectives. Whether you are a student of the ancient Egyptians, ancient Greeks, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Karl Abraham or others, you're sure to find a wealth of valuable information and "perspective" in this book.
A happy outcome is that by reading this book you may glean a glimpse of your own heroes journey. That fact is worth the price of the book alone. It also makes a great gift for anyone who enjoys being reflective and is not fearful of diving into their own psyche and what they might find.
Robert "Bob" Wright, Jr., Ph.D., COFT
First, it’s important to recognize that the hero’s journey belongs to the greater fabric of mythology. In the book’s prologue, Campbell states without reservation that myth is the basic expression of all human culture: “It would not be too much to say that myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into the human cultural manifestation. Religions, philosophies, arts, the social forms of primitive and historic man, prime discoveries in science and technology, the very dreams that blister sleep, boil up from the basic, magic ring of myth.” With these words, Campbell gives the reader fair warning that this book is not a mere collection of fairy tales, nor is it an attempt to contain mythology as a separate discipline. Myth, according to the author, touches every part of the human experience. It is not meant to be contained.
The Hero with a Thousand Faces, therefore, is Campbell’s exploration of just one aspect of myth, the hero’s journey. In this “composite adventure,” as he calls it, the author relates “the tales of a number of the world’s symbolic carriers of the destiny of Everyman.” Even focusing on just one aspect of myth is a heavy undertaking, and Campbell acknowledges that he is only describing “a few striking examples from a number of widely scattered, representative traditions” to illustrate the common elements of the hero’s journey appearing in many cultures around the world. Part I, “The Adventure of the Hero,” delineates the hero’s journey in three basic phases: Departure, Initiation, and Return. Part 2, “The Cosmogonic Cycle,” explores myths about the world’s creation and destruction, a macrocosm of the hero’s journey.
Considering the extraordinary scope of material at hand, Campbell offers readers a well-curated overview of various traditional depictions of the quintessential hero. Some of the heroes described in the book are well-known cultural and religious icons, including Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Perseus, and Osiris. Many others, such as the Pueblo Water Jar Boy (one of the oddest and most humorous stories in my opinion), may be unfamiliar to readers.
This book is not only informative for mythology students and enthusiasts, but also very helpful for fiction writers. If you can understand what cultures all over the world have lauded as a hero for thousands of years, you can infuse your protagonist with some or all of these qualities and create an engaging story that touches on the deepest longings and fears of the human experience.
Note: If you've never read Joseph Campbell before, I recommend starting with The Power of Myth, based on a 1988 PBS miniseries in which Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell discuss applications of mythology to contemporary life. Because the text of the book is drawn from these Moyers' interviews with Campbell, reading it is like listening in on a conversation between friends, and it's a great way to ease into Campbell's work.
First, I had to pull out the dictionary a few times. It's been many a moon since I had to do that. Second, the elementary vocabulary I have to use to write this review pales in comparison to Campbell's vernacular.
With that being said, I putting this in my Reference Section in my personal library. What a great read!
Joseph Campbell is such a good resource to have, not only for his inspiration & insight into the human condition but also because of his expertise on mythology throughout time. This adds a scholarly profundity that too often alludes the self-help aisle.
Our culture will never embrace clear eyed reality based belief, the long road down monotheism has assured us of that. But through the small academic window of anthropology & mythology- we can regain the mystic awe necessary for fulfillment grounded in universal tradition-not by generalization but by specific cultural examples. Campbell provides these examples, and it will invigorate your spirit as he adapts them to our modern age.
Also recommended is "All Things Shining" by Hubert Dreyfus.