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The Power of Myth (Joseph Campbell and Power of Myth)

4.29  ·  Rating Details ·  32,160 Ratings  ·  1,189 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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Jun 25, 2007 Kelly rated it really liked it
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
Jason Koivu
The Power of Myth explores so much more than myth. It delves into the essence of life itself.

Joseph Campbell was mythologist, professor, writer, lecturer, historian...he was so much. His wealth of knowledge on faith, philosophy and humanity was astounding. He has left us, but he has left behind a body of work, a legacy of compassion and understanding for us and future generations. Thanks to this interview, conducted by journalist Bill Moyers, we have an encapsulated version of his teachings from
Jul 04, 2007 Colie! rated it it was amazing
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
Roy Lotz
Oct 22, 2016 Roy Lotz rated it really liked it
I have bought this wonderful machine—a computer. Now I am rather an authority on gods, so I identified the machine—it seems to me to be an Old Testament god with a lot of rules and no mercy.

Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces is a book that, for better or worse, will forever change how you see the world. Once you read his analysis of the monomyth, the basic outline of mythological stories, you find it everywhere. It’s maddening sometimes. Now I can’t watch certain movies without analy
Jun 11, 2016 Safat rated it it was amazing
There is something very fishy about our existence. We are unaware of it most of the time, but it tickles us all from time to time.

Suddenly we realize we 'are', we actually exist. That's a weird thing. One day we open our eyes, and there’s a world outside.

These things trouble me. Since when do I exist? How come I wasn’t here, then I suddenly came out of nowhere? How’s it possible that something as concrete as ‘I’ actually came out of nowhere? And exactly at what time did I come into being? At my
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
Malynda Alice
Dec 25, 2007 Malynda Alice rated it it was amazing
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
brian tanabe
Sep 04, 2008 brian tanabe rated it really liked it
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
Nov 05, 2009 Stephen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Arun Divakar
Feb 13, 2012 Arun Divakar rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Oct 23, 2011 Parvathy rated it it was amazing
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
Paula Cappa
Oct 31, 2013 Paula Cappa rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 09, 2010 Jafar rated it liked it
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
Bill Bowyer
Jan 06, 2016 Bill Bowyer rated it it was amazing
A great tool for any writer or aspiring novelist in the fundamental knowledge of myth and its interaction with religion and history. Joseph Campbell proves here that he is the master of mythology, and his wisdom oozes from the pages like honey. As a writer, the gift of such wisdom far exceeds most other resources that you have at your disposal.

Perhaps the most important teaching from Campbell is his insisting that constant reading is the prime path for one to acquire great amounts of knowledge.
Austin Kleon
Jan 06, 2010 Austin Kleon rated it really liked it
A series of interview with Campbell, accompanied by lots of images.

My notes:

Sep 12, 2016 tJacksonrichards rated it really liked it
Just as 'Public Communicators' like Cousteau, Sagan and deGrasse Tyson have translated sprawling, complex phenomena of the natural sciences into digestible, imperative docutainment, so did Joseph Campbell—with socratic cheerleading from interviewer Bill Moyers—distill leading mythological scholarship of the humanities and social sciences, including his own substantial work, into a kind of cultural and ecological advocacy intended for a late 1980s american television audience.

CAMPBELL: I think of
Jan 25, 2011 Sean rated it it was amazing
"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
Mischa Van Loder
May 19, 2013 Mischa Van Loder rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
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
Erika Schoeps
Aug 07, 2015 Erika Schoeps rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I actually never thought I'd be writing a review and typing out the sentence, "this book changed my life." But I can't really get around it. It feels dramatic and sweeping and ridiculous, but this book really changed my life. It was also a matter of good timing, and I was also given some thoughts from watching "The Wind Rises" at the same time as I was reading.

Joseph Campbell speaks about his knowledge as if it is unequivocal, unarguable truth. I was charmed and yet annoyed. I was firmly rooted
Ramona P.
Jun 08, 2008 Ramona P. rated it it was amazing
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
May 05, 2009 Katerina rated it it was ok
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
Sep 09, 2007 Huling rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 15, 2010 Pamela Lloyd rated it it was amazing
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
Daniel Villines
Dec 25, 2012 Daniel Villines rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 13, 2016 Kiarash rated it really liked it
من با یک بخش زیادی از نظراتش موافق نبودم ولی واقعا کتاب الهام بخش و هیجان انگیزی هست. مصاحبه با جوزف کمپبل به عنوان یکی از معروف ترین اسطوره شناس ها و ارائه چکیده نظراتش که به طور کامل تری در کتاب های قبلیش معرفی شده اند.

البته دلم میخواست توی کتاب در مورد اسطوره های ایرانی و زرتشتی بیشتر بخونم که به جز چهار پنج تا اشاره چیز دیگه ای نبود.
I think the only reason I decided to check this audiobook out from my library was because the title sounded vaguely familiar off Gilmore Girls. That one episode where Rory wanted to stay in and watch all seven hours of it. Plus, the title was catchy. The power of myth? Well, of course myths have power.... but why?

But, I did what Rory did... sort of. I would have listened to it in two days rather than three if I had been able to work yesterday. This audiobook is just the interview, complete with
Feb 22, 2010 Loyd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This conversation with Bill Moyers is something I re-read often. It's both inspiring and infuriating. Moyer's questions get pretty precious, almost sycophantic at times, and Campbell is perfectly capable of talking endlessly about mythology without much prompting.

I love the exploration into the stories and myths that make world cultures tick, but Campbell falls into a classic "can't see the forest for the trees" trap that is maddening to me. He believes that there is a great (as Jung put it) "c
Heidi The Hippie Librarian
Though a bit rambling at times, The Power of Myth is a great introductory text on archetypes found within all world mythologies from every time period. Campbell does a solid job explaining why the underlying stories are the same from all over the world and what they mean in both cultural, personal, and world contexts. He breaks down some of the major archetypes like the sacrificed god and resurrection, virgin births, goddesses, trees, snakes, and more.

I particularly liked the bits about the myth
Trenton Judson
Nov 12, 2011 Trenton Judson rated it it was amazing
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
Maryam Farhangi
Aug 12, 2016 Maryam Farhangi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
اگر انسان,دین ,اساطیر و رازهایش براتون معماست,
اگه دغدغه وجودی چگونه بودن,خوشبخت بودن و...هر چیزی مربوط به راه زندگی و دنیای عجیب و بزرگ انسان براتون مسءله است,لحظه ای درنگ نکنید و کتاب رو شروع کنید..بی نظیره..
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • The Age of Chivalry (Bulfinch's Medieval Mythology)
  • American Indian Myths and Legends (Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library)
  • A Short History of Myth
  • Parallel Myths
  • Gods and Myths of Northern Europe
  • The Portable Jung
  • The Hero Within: Six Archetypes We Live By
  • The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth
  • The Gnostic Gospels
  • Egyptian Religion: Egyptian Ideas of the Future Life
  • The Language of the Goddess
  • The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion
  • The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets
  • The Golden Bough
  • Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti
  • The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • The World's Religions: Our Great Wisdom Traditions
  • The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft
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...

Other Books in the Series

Joseph Campbell and Power of Myth (6 books)
  • The Hero's Adventure: Power of Myth 1
  • The Message of the Myth: Power of Myth 2
  • The First Storytellers: Power of Myth 3
  • Sacrifice and Bliss: Power of Myth 4
  • Love and the Goddess: Power of Myth 5
  • Masks of Eternity: Power of Myth 6

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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.” 669 likes
“Sit in a room and read--and read and read. And read the right books by the right people. Your mind is brought onto that level, and you have a nice, mild, slow-burning rapture all the time.” 497 likes
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