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The Power of Myth (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell)

4.28 of 5 stars 4.28  ·  rating details  ·  26,253 ratings  ·  872 reviews
Campbell's most impressive gift was his ability to take a contemporary situation, such as the murder & funeral of President John F. Kennedy, & help us understand its impact in the context of ancient mythology. Herein lies the power of The Power of Myth, showing how humans are apt to create & live out the themes of mythology. Based on a six-part PBS tv series ho ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published May 18th 2011 by Anchor Doubleday (first published 1988)
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Kelly
Jun 25, 2007 Kelly rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone- though you have to be a bit idealistic
I really do think that this should be required reading in high school, everywhere. Or beyond. Just in general. I read it in preperation for my AP year, and it really helps you to open your eyes quite a bit. Does Joe Campbell like to stretch his points? Yes. Are some of his ideas and allusions a little far fetched? Absolutely. Will you roll your eyes a few times? Of course! Unless you are more starry eyed than even I was.

However. What he says on the subject of myth and our current culture is so t
...more
Elliot
We'd be better off with transcripts of the PBS series as aired. Chatting with Bill Moyers, Campbell appears just as grand as he must have before his students at Sarah Lawrence: effortlessly dancing from comparative mythology to practical philosophy, seemingly in awe of the universe and his ability to live and learn in it. Campbell tells us of the similar stories that our ancestors shared -- evidence, in his eyes, of universal ways of telling tales, myths which, if we allow ourselves to follow th ...more
Colie!
Jul 04, 2007 Colie! rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone remotely human
Joseph Campbell is seriously incredible. Read this, listen to the PBS audio tapes, read anything he writes... he's just brilliant, erudite, illuminating, fascinating, lovable, enlightening... he reveals things articulately that you always sensed in the shadowy regions of your instinct, and having them so clearly identified has a revelatory and refreshing effect. It makes you pensive and hopeful. It makes you feel good about being human, part of this thing we do called life. I don't know, I think ...more
Malynda Alice
I don't know how he does it, but every time I read/hear/stumble upon some vague quotation of Joseph Campbell's work, my day gets better. The sensation I get when reading his work is of relief, that all the seemingly static and infallible truths of the world stem from very simple needs. Somehow knowing that frees me to pursue the quenching of the needs, rather than the physical trappings we have set up around that need. It is very interesting.
This book is a sort of revised and embellished versio
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brian tanabe
I started reading the hardcover version of this and immediately realized it is a companion to a PBS series between Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell. So I decided to switch to the audio version – highly, highly recommended over the book.

I found myself connecting with a lot of the passages, but one passage in particular definitely stands out, tackling the meaning of life. While I have a great amount of respect for Moyers, I was slightly annoyed at times with his attempts to assert his equanimity to
...more
Stephen
My 100th book for goodreads should be a memorable one.

TRUE STORY: I was facing one of those milestone birthdays where you find yourself asking the big questions like, “What the heck am I doing?” “Am I on the right course?” "Who am I?"

I wandered into a local bookstore thinking “Surely there’s a book in here with some answers for me.” I walked out with “The Power of Myth” by Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers, the companion book for their PBS series of the same name.

A few pages into their dialog, I
...more
Parvathy
Oct 23, 2011 Parvathy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Philosophy & Comapritive Mythology lovers
Recommended to Parvathy by: goodreads
Myths are often stories that explain how the world and human kind came to be in their present form. I have always been inexplicable drawn to these stories and often felt that they have a quality beyond what they seem to be. The undeniable pull of myths have in the human psyche and the society that surrounds them are often met with scrutiny and criticism. When you say that you are interested in mythology the question naturally comes as to why this particular subject is of interest? What role does ...more
James Williams
This is my first first-person experience with Campbell. And I find it an incredibly frustrating book.

There are parts that are wonderful: when Campbell takes a few moments to tell some of the myths that have been floating around for years. Or when he compares the motifs in multiple myths from different cultures in different parts of the world. Campbell was clearly a master story-teller, and even in just a couple of sentences, he really makes these ancient stories come alive.

Similarly, the compa
...more
Paula Cappa
This book is full of wisdom. I read it slowly, kept it on my night table and read a page or two a night. Of course, Joseph Campbell is brilliant. I ended up underlining because so much is profound and so much goes deep into not only the world we live in but the personal soul. He talks a lot about going inward and finding your own harmony. The Great Silence! The silence beyond sound. Myth and storytellers, the hero's adventures, gift of the goddess, and the female principle all lead up to, not so ...more
Arun Divakar
In my part of the world, the gods live everywhere. Every automobile you get into has an image of an elephant headed god or a crucified christ & if the owner is a very fervent believer you will have incense burning inside the vehicle. Such beliefs according to them keeps mishaps at bay. Calendars & walls are adorned with such images and even movies begin with chants evoking the celestial ones.Growing up in such a society my mind kept wavering between comfort & confusion on what it all ...more
Cheryl
"Nobody on their death bed says, I wish I had spent more time at the office. Take off your mask. Live for today." Joseph Campbell

Ancient myths in today's globalized world, transcending borders to highlight similarities rather than differences...Campbell's profound message for today.

Highly Recommended!
Michellina Van Loder
After reading Joseph Campbell's work 'The Power of Myth' and 'The Hero's Journey', I'm now noticing the symbols of mythology and legends in nearly every movie I see and every book I read; even in the non-fiction, true articles of my favourite newspaper, 'The Age', the are apparent. I can't believe how Campbell's philosophies touch on everything we believe about our earth, religion, marriage, births--absolutely everything!

Using the example of religion and the stories of the bible, Joseph Campbel
...more
Jafar
It can be joy to read this book which is entirely a conversation between the mythologist Joseph Campbell and the PBS journalist Bill Moyers – both being uber-erudite. Whether the joy turns into boredom and annoyance or continues to the end depends on your mindset. For Campbell myths are what we humans conceive to make sense of the world and our lives and our relation with the world. All stories and rites and traditions should be looked at in this perspective. Myth are not things of the antiquity ...more
Ramona P.
This book changed my life. Joseph Campbell opened the world of Mythology to me and introduced a new way for me to relate to my life journey. His insights and ideas about the power of myth help us understand how important it is to be aware of the traditions inherent in our cultures and how they play out personally and collectively.

I am able to look for the "soul-story" resonating in diverse cultures and know that I am looking at the myth that is informing their values, ideas, ideals, religion, e
...more
Sean
"The Power of Myth" by Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers is one of the most amazing books you will ever read or experience. Campbell, the late professor of Comparative Mythology at Sarah Lawrence University, wrote on ideas touching upon every facet of life and his ideas have inspired all types of artistic and creative expression. It would be impossible to write about every idea that Campbell discusses in this book but it suffices to say that his work touches upon many profound aspects of what it ...more
Huling
Sep 09, 2007 Huling rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those who want to be challenged and provoked to view their world a little differently
Joseph Campbell was the foremost authority on comparative religious studies in America. Though he is no longer with us in body his legacy lives on with the profound books he left behind and a series of interviews with Bill Moyer that aired on PBS in the late 80's. Campbell's contribution to the world of myths and rituals is incomparable. And in the Power of Myth (which is basically a transcript of the fascinating interviews with Moyer) Campbell essentially summarizes his life's work and provokes ...more
Pamela Lloyd
An amazing book. Despite the obvious level of intelligence and knowledge demonstrated by Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell, it's very readable and made me feel that I was witness to a conversation--as, in many ways, I was, since the book is based upon their taped interviews.

While there were points that I felt Campbell spoke with too much certainty, it's difficult to criticize him due to the extraordinary breadth and depth of his knowledge, which certainly outstrips mine. Far more often, however, m
...more
Katerina
Apparently everyone loves this book, which shocks me. I found a lot of his references very interesting but I really despised a lot of the author's commentary on them (as well as the hundreds of times the author contradicts himself). Yes, he did come up with some pretty deep conclusions, but at other times I found his ideas to be so infuriatingly ridiculous that I, in fact, threw the book at the car window at one point when I read a particularly infuriating nugget of absurdity (I believe it was s ...more
Trenton Judson
I feel like any review of this book would be a gross undersell of its value. I have had this book for a number of years but I only would read bits and pieces and then lose interest and then come back and do the same thing, but I might have just not been ready to read it until now. Campbell unlocks this unity of humanity by simply saying that cross culturally we have been telling the same stories since the history of humanity's inception and to me that's simple, but it is pure genius. In the book ...more
Amanda
"The inner world is thet world of your requirements and your energies and your structure and your possibilities that meets the outer world. And the outer world is the field of your incarnation. That's where you are. You've got to keep both going. As Novalis said, "The seat of the soul is there where the inner and outer worlds meet." (57)
"It suggests that you are more than you think you are. There are dimensions of your being and a potential for realization and consciousness that are not included
...more
Shirley
Follow your bliss? You bet! And thank the "realm which we call 'God/god' because language is limited" that Joseph Campbell decided to study world mythlogies after a visit to the Museum on Natural History in NYC as a young boy. His command of this subject is breathtaking, and his ability to take deep, esoteric ideas and communicate that in everday language makes for compelling reading. I went back over passages many times to reflect on what was being said, because there was so much packed into th ...more
Dann McKeegan
Oct 03, 2011 Dann McKeegan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone. seriously.
Campbell and Moyers are equally fascinating, and reading this interview was an absolute breeze as far as philosophy and myth go. I couldn't put it down over the couple days it took me to get through it. While I have collected 1st editions of all four volumes of The Masks of God and have most of his other works on either my actual or mental to-read pile, I wanted to dig into something I knew would be informative but accessible in small chunks.

I love when a book forces me to take my index card boo
...more
Daniel Villines
I’ve been struggling with this review for some time and yet I keep going back to it time and time again. There is no physical science associated with Campbell’s assertions but they are based on an understanding of multiple cultures spanning millennia. And his conclusions are based on points in common between humans that lived in relative isolation from one another in terms of both time and geography.

The result of Campbell's approach is a book filled with lessons of life that speak to some sort o
...more
Cara
I'm nearly done with this book, but I might as well put in my 2 cents now. As the end of a good book approaches, I tend to slow my reading down exponentially to avoid the moment of loss I feel upon hitting the last page! Ridiculous, but true.

I believe Campbell has an important message on the relevance of mythology, the importance of metaphor, and the role of religion in today's world. This message is made very accessible in the interviews transcribed in The Power of Myth. In it, he occasionally
...more
Benjamin Champagne
A lot of books in this genre are produced like this. The recorded conversation format. I know many christian authors turn sermons into books, Wayne Dyer translates seminars. Those are all fine. This has the upperhand in that Joseph Campbell is learned of the old-school variation. He can quote the masters with ease. He has studied all forms of classical education and it drips out of him. I don't think that it overhauled my thinking at all, but that is simply because I have already been introduced ...more
Matt Mayhall
I would recommend this book to anyone who feels like they need some kind of answer to life's bigger questions. I learned so much from J.C. He is truly one of the good guys... Although I have to say to those of you who haven't read this: This book is basically just a transcription of an interview that Bill Moyers conducted with Joseph Campbell. This interview was filmed and PBS did a 4 or 5-part special and you can get the DVDs from Netflix. The book is great and you should read it, but I would a ...more
Sam
Jesus Christ does old Professor Joe Campbell knead and massage his precious little thesis until it is a pile of steaming crap sitting in front of me. How many different ways can you boil a potato. Yes, OK, myth, storytelling, wow amazing. NEXT.
Bob Nichols
This is a conversation between Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers that extended the 1980s PPS presentation of Campbell's thoughts about myth. There's something frustrating about this book that is hard to nail down.

The conversation moves across a wide swath of contemporary and historical human expression, which Campbell stamps as myth or as relevant to myth. In the introduction, Campbell talks about the country's focus on Kennedy's assassination in November 1963 as the nation's "compensatory rite to
...more
Charles
This is basically an interview that Bill Moyers conducted with Joseph Campbell. They touch on many of the basic elements of Campbell's ideas. I enjoyed reading it and did obtain some interesting insights, particularly into religion. There is also plenty of stuff, though, that sounds rather fancy but really says nothing at the core of it. That may be partially due to the nature of the interview format. Probably a pretty good introduction to Campbell but to really understand his views will call fo ...more
Sarah
Apr 23, 2007 Sarah is currently reading it
I've read sections of this so far only, but whatever I've come across so far is packed with wisdom. It makes great connections between the narratives that we read (and grew up on) and our lives. I've presented excerpts of this to my AP Literature students, and many of them have been intrigued by the notion of the hero's journey. If my high school students liked this stuff, then this is definitely a good read for veteran readers.
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  • Myth and Meaning
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  • The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers
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  • Shadow and Evil in Fairy Tales (C.G. Jung Foundation Book)
  • Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America
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Joseph John Campbell was an American mythology professor, writer, and orator best known for his work in the fields of comparative mythology and comparative religion.
More about Joseph Campbell...
The Hero With a Thousand Faces Myths to Live By Primitive Mythology (The Masks of God, #1) Oriental Mythology (The Masks of God, #2) Pathways to Bliss: Mythology and Personal Transformation

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“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” 464 likes
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