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on September 5, 2015
This book is for the serious reader who is looking to learn more about the origins and power of myths in their historical context and how timeless symbols including archetypes are being "rediscovered" from a psychological perspective. For the uninitiated, this is an eye opening book in that Joseph Campbell is able to demonstrate in a masterful way how many of "the patterns and logic of fairy tale and myth correspond to those of dream, [and how] the long discredited chimeras of archaic man have returned dramatically to the foreground of modern consciousness" [page 255].

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
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on June 7, 2015
If, like me, you’ve heard the term “hero’s journey” but didn’t really know what it was all about, this, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, is the definitive book by comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell. Although it’s by no means an easy read, it is well worth the investment of time and study if you want to learn the expanded definition of a hero according to a general consensus of world cultures.

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.
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on July 21, 2016
This is an amazing book filled to the brim with information. If you are a writer, then this is a must have. The hardback is worth the price, effort, and wait time (hard backs do not, unfortunately arrive in your kindle or kindle app within a minute or two). It is dense and not for those lacking in perseverance, but such a treasure trove of material is packed into one book. Joseph Campbell has scoured the world and time to put together such a complex book of ideas about stories. His writing style is quite dense and reminds me of Jung's writing style or Rand's style a bit. You need to invest some time to get accustomed to his style, but the time and effort will be worth it.
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on September 12, 2014
This book is The Bible for story structure. But you probably already knew that. Everybody in the world gives this book five stars and raves about how it changed their lives. I gave it four stars because, while it is unquestionably a great book, it can be very dry reading. I like the book, but I can't say that I love it, and I don't know that it is one that I will pull off the shelf on a regular basis. Even so, if you aspire to be a professional storyteller, or you just like to spin yarns, this is one of the books you should read, if for no other reason, so that you can checkmark it off your list.
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on November 3, 2013
Joseph Campbell's seminal work which outlines his monomyth theory- where he states all stories follow a central patterns.

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.
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on January 7, 2017
Joseph Campbell discovered that running through all the mythologies of all the world, there is a Monomyth--a pattern that shows up again and again. Sometimes it is understood as mythology and sometimes it becomes literalized as a belief system. Campbell demonstrated how looking at this Monomyth *as* mythology gives us insight into our lives as individuals and as part of the whole human race.

This book is basically an intro to and brief summary of Joseph Campbell, the Monomyth and the Hero's Journey. It also explains why "Star Wars" is so popular.
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on February 23, 2016
I wish i had known about this book years ago. I consider it a profound work that i hold to the esteem of a 'sacred' text. Campbell not only demonstrates the commonality of many myths and stories, but also provides the typical progression of the 'hero'. This is a must read for any seeker of expanded awareness. When i began this book i expected a dull look at the commonalities of the world's myths and epic stories. What i found was a map of the path of the embodied soul. Truly a magnificent book.
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Campbell's writing, though less genial, can be more persuasive than his spoken discourse. First, he doe not succumb to the need to give something to everyone, the assurance that every story is worthy of inclusion in the "monomyth." Instead, he frequently assumes the mantle of cultural critic, like T. S. Eliot dismissing the fragmented "stories" of a society that has lost touch with its authentic ritualist traditions. Second, he writes in the form of paradox and metaphor not easily reduced to the formulaic schemes his popularizers and followers seem so anxious to apply to pop-culture texts and pet projects.
Perhaps the reader's greatest challenge in understanding Campbell's archetypal scheme, not to mention his own odyssey, is comprehending the difference between the "innocence" the child emerges from in his circular journey and that to which he returns. Apparently each of us must break free of an infantile egotism and selfishness, continue to struggle against the regressive cathexes that bind us to it, but then seek to return to the same place with a heightened consciousness uniting us to our first god minus the selfish impulses. Campbell's explanation is both Jungian and Freudian, mystical and rational, logical yet paradoxical--never as "tidy" or accessible as his popularizers suggest.
Somewhat disappointing is the relatively little attention Campbell gives to Western myth and literary archetypes. But 50 years ago the author's emphasis on Hindu and Buddhist traditions may have seemed more conclusive evidence of his positions--at least to readers for whom Western traditions were not as unfamiliar as Eastern. Regarded dismissively by many modern academics as a sponsor of mushy, "new-age" thinking, Campbell is best seen as a unique, courageous and compelling voice among the numerous Marxist, post-structural, post-colonial critical voices that emerged with Barthes, Derrida, Foucault, making deconstructionist thought the academic rage of the 1970s and 80s. His identification of universal myths and his rhetorical representations of them were reactionary reassurances in the midst of much skepticism and intellectual arrogance.
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on October 20, 2016
Classic but dated. Freud and Jung analysis are an essential part of the book. He uses their approach to analyzing mythology. Given that they both have been debunked by new psychological theory, this imparts an obsolete aspect. But otherwise, totally worth a read, particularly if you are a writer and looking for something about the Hero's journey which is still a major influence on films and novels. It's lost some of its relevance given new theory. It's a difficult read when you know that much of the theory behind it is now obsolete.
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on January 29, 2016
..to write this review.

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!
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