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Iron John
Robert Bly
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Iron John

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  2,593 ratings  ·  237 reviews
The renowned poet and author of A Gathering of Men helps men identify with their masculinity through a positive and supportive format for today's world of role conflicts.
Published November 28th 1994 by Planeta Publishing Corporation (first published 1984)
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Having just pushed through the deep lakes of thought Bly makes us dwell in, and having exhausted a lot of energy traveling miles and miles of metaphor I feel short of power to describe this book.

I can say that I am, and few would disagree, the least among you to be found in a drum circle, or even drinking starbuck's. Which is not to say that I am better, only more stubborn about these things. And now further admitting my manhood is not at all comfortable with the idea of needing a "men's moveme
Oh, man. We all know how it's said that we can't judge books by their covers, or at least that we shouldn't...but this book can be judged easily with a quick glance at the back cover. Here is the author.

Note the "ethnic" vest over the button-up shirt and velvet ascot. This sums up, metaphorically, my experience of the contents of the book. A little bit hippie, a little bit new-age fetishist, a little bit ladies-man-of-the-1970's...and a little bit straightlaced and conservative underneath it al
Jack Donovan
Iron John is peppered with meaningful insights, but it is also insufferably fruity.

Bly frames Iron John as a book primarily for men ready to do this kind of “inner work;” men around the age of 35. If you’re going to really change manhood, you have to reach out to young men, too. A movement for 35 year old men has no future. Group therapy culture can’t replace authentic, organic masculine experience. That’s a problem I still see with the men’s movement, though I think this is changing. A transfo
Bart Breen
One of the Best Books I have ever Read ....

Truly one of the best books I have ever read, and I have read many.

Robert Bly is a Poet and the founder of a Man's Movement. In Iron John he brings both elements to bear in a way that will only truly be understood by men.

That's right. I said it. This book requires a man to truly understand it. Women are welcome. I suppose a man can read Cosmo and come away with something too. You may find that sexist. You may find that unfair. Tough. That's the way it i
A book about perspectives on the "wildness" of men throughout history, with emphasis on the need for a return to the rites of passage laid out metaphorically in the "Iron John" tale as told by the Brothers Grimm, which likely dates back to ancient times. Sounds interesting, right? Except that it turns into a disconnected ramble that assumes anything "ancient" is automatically better than anything contemporary. This is a logical fallacy that makes me more angry every time I come across it. The re ...more
Kevin Fuller
Bly is sly. He talks about men without isolating women, without excluding the Divine Feminine from the male experience.
In a day and age where the alpha male has been replaced by the only rational option, the beta male, Bly offers a third way, the nurturing Father.
I really like the way Bly brings in fairy tale, mysticism, some gnosticism, and paganism, and um, even mythicism and also um the kitchen sink to describe the male ego in all of it's complexity.
The most telling, for me, is the chapter on
My boyfriend gave this to me and said "Please read this, I think it will help you understand me." So, with grim determination, and a not all too pleasant mindset, I began to read Iron John. Robert Bly is a respected poet and a "leader of men" or, a man who thinks he knows how to make men better men by teaching them to find the wild man inside of them and showing them when and how to make use of his characteristics. I'm not really a fan of the book. I couldn't finish it. This could be because I'm ...more
A cross between Jungian psychology, Poetry, and Fairy Tales, this book neatly intersects many of my primary interests. Written by the poet Robert Bly, it's an odd journey through the archetypal psychic development of men in western culture, focusing on the uses of and need for initiation rites and spiritual life, and a Jungian interpretation of the fairy tale "Iron John". There are some remarkable insights here, though also some pretty specious claims.
This book is why I love Robert Bly. The modern man is lost, disheveled, and more broken everyday because there is no guidance to lead him into maturity, and through self-discovery. Utilizing the myth of Iron John, Robert Bly offers some answer to the wounds we receive in life, and how those too are means for us to grow well.
Dylan Grant
This book is absolutely loaded with psychological insight. Reading this book felt almost surreal at times because of how it brought together so many different things that I have read into a cohesive whole. Robert Bly discusses the importance of male initiation rituals on a male's psychological in theself-development in ancient societies. I had first become aware of the existence of these male initiation rituals through reading Joseph Campbell's Primitive Mythology. When I first read that book I ...more
Ben De Bono
Iron John is commonly regarded as one of the major men's books written over the past few decades. In many ways it functions as a secular Wild at Heart. It's an easy read that covers a lot of deep issues relating to masculinity.

There's a lot to like about this book, as well as a few problems. I'll start with the good stuff. First, I love the mythological approach Bly takes to masculinity. He's considered one of the foremost figures in the Mythopoetic Men's Movement, and for good reason. He not o
Nuggets of wisdom scattered amid the psychobabble.
Filled with wisdom, myth, and poetic beauty on every page, this book is about the complex dynamics of growing up and coming into your own as a fully actualized human being. Yes, of course its focus is on masculinity and men but this book is equally relevant to women and useful for women trying to understand men. Myth with its resistance to simple answers or endings and its embrace of opposites and complexity, is wonderful to "think with" as Bly shows again and again. Myth by definition is a tool ...more
Claire Doran
It's hard to believe that this was first published in 1984 (30 years ago! What?!), because the problems it attempts to address are just as relevant today, if not more so. Debates about gender politics are so inflammatory and so complex that it's refreshing to read something thoughtful, emotional, and occasionally silly about what it means to be a man.

Like many other Goodreads reviewers, I agreed with many of Bly's key points, but found his writing to be a slog. Many of his references were incred
Miloš Vukotić
I'm not a book critic nor do I feel that my opinion matters, but I do feel obliged to say something about this book (mainly because I read the comments below). This book covers one of those subjects which give a lot of space for 'selective perception' - depending on your previous convictions (and prejudices) you may find "Iron John" either disgusting or wonderful, foolish or wise. A true example of a cognitive bias of which one may read at websites like YouAreNotSoSmart dot com.
Anyway, try to un
I really don't like to give a book only three stars, especially when it's obvious the author worked so hard researching and writing. But, this book really only deserves three stars, in my opinion.

Robert Bly really did his homework when he researced the myth of Iron John. He has an historical illustration for almost every word of the story. It's very impressive.

But, for some reason I can't explain, Bly's writing is difficult for me to understand. I read most of his paragraphs over and over again
This is the first book I have read in what I think will be a shift to non-fiction for a little while. It was recommended to me by a person that I think my be considered a "mentor" in the book itself. I am not exactly sure on what scale I will rate this book and the ones that I anticipate reading after it. However, I am going to attempt to write about each of them in some way. Here goes.

This was the most frightening book I think I have ever read - it hit close to home. It discusses the process b
How did this book become a bestseller? I was undecided as to whether it should be a one star rating or not. Iron John is a book about the mythopoetic movement where men are told to embrace their inner masculinity. Bly used an analogy of a fable to discuss the psychology and history of masculinity across cultures. Fairytales, mythology, poetries and classical literatures were explored to accompany his analysis.

I found the story to be straneous, the analogies were far fetched and the analysis were
I liked this book a great deal. The author basically goes at great length over the symbolism of all the details of the tale of "Iron John". Bly regards it as a metaphor for the process of initiation of boys to manhood that got lost in the last couple of centuries. He presents the relevant mythological, historical and cultural backgrounds and goes from there, drawing conclusions what for instance "the golden ball" stands for, and then attempts to look at the contemporary world through this perspe ...more
Matthew Brooks
This is far and away my favorite book. A must read for men and women who want to better understand their son, husband, brother, etc. I have read this over and over and every time a new insight is revealed, you grow up a little with each it.
Friedrich Haas
There was a literal moment when my thinking shifted from hating my father to understanding how his life had broken him. In understanding and forgiving him, I also can do so for myself, and some others. I see how people get broken like bones, and heal with limps, and restrictions, and anger that they can not be who they wanted to be, and they might not realize it within themselves. My father never would have. People never thought that way then. I miss my father now, knowing we could have finally ...more
Shane Woolf
Modern feminist thinking has placed significant emphasis on "the inadequacy of men, and on the evils of the patriarchal system, [and] encourages mothers to discount grown men." The preface articulates that the images of adult manhood given by popular culture are tired and worn out; they are unreliable. Bly taps into older, more ancient imagery to uncover how boys can mature into strong, confident men. This book is deep, mentally exhausting, and at times difficult to follow.

Worth reading. I reco
This "book about men" is so insightful, a revelation for the confused man in a post industrial world. Bly, the author, dissects the struggles men face breaking away from motherly bonds while being inhibited by underdeveloped relationships with their fathers and other influential men in their lives. Bly's assertions made perfect sense to me.
This book, however, isn't only confined to a male audience, but could be read by females to help promote a sense of empathy and understanding. Also, the boo
Iron John focuses on the role of initiation in the lives of men. It pulls insights from many mythic systems and cultural world veiws in a fascinating way. I’d say that its just a beginning, showing the way in to a very valid point of veiw, but the book has some areas of inquiry that it passes over. But I’m giving it 4 stars for the gentle and insistant way it brings the topic up and makes a good case for the necessity of initiation for men. Basically, Iron John is about the need for men to have ...more
Rob Lipovsky
Wild man archtype.

Iron John is based on the Germanic fairy-tale about Iron John (aka the Wild Man). The Wild Man is a hairy beast who values bravery, openness, adventurousness; he has a certain disregard for etiquette, not at the expense of it, but rather to embrace his more primitive side. Men in tune with their "wild man" side are hard to tame, hard to defeat, but also hard walk away from.

In less poetic terms the book is essentially about the need for men to re-claim their deep masculine side
"Iron John" is one of the 236 Grimm Brothers fairy tales published in 1812 and Robert Bly uses the 'metaphorical information' in it to help the reader understand 'what it is to live on a deeper level'. I wish I could say I did understand, but most of the time I didn't, even though some understanding came through almost by some osmosis effect. Iron John was a parable about a boy maturing into adulthood with the help of a Wild Man. Bly's book uses "Jungian psychology, various myths, legends, folkl ...more
I vaguely remember when this was published and skimming a review of it in the local paper. I also remember reading (or more likely skimming, again), articles about a 'men's movement', that had sprung up around Bly and this book. Martin Amis wrote a pretty scathing review of it at the time, but in the parlance of a Brit goofing on 'those wacky Americans'.

I found a used copy in a charity shop a short time ago and bought it, mainly to see what kicked up all the fuss in the early 90s. Essentially, B
Ladan Sz
از دسته کتابهاییه که ریسک اینکه مخاطب ازش خوشش نیاد خیلی زیاده، اما خوشبختانه من خوشم اومد، اما احساس میکنم نویسنده مرز رو رعایت نکرده، مرز مابین روانشناسی و عرفان رو، یعنی اگه کسی از من بپرسه این کتاب در چه حوزه ای صحبت میکنه واقعا جوابی ندارم چون برای خودم هم نامشخصه. اشکال دیگه ارجاعات زیاد به مفاهیم گوناگونیه که کمی گیج کنندست، اما در مجموع اگه به کهن الگوها علاقه دارین، به اسطوره شناسی و روانشناسی هم علاقه مندین فک میکنم ارزش خوندن داره.
Gina Briganti
This book was recommended to me ten years ago by a Feng shui consultant we hired to help us improve the energy flow in our home. I didn’t have any resistance to reading the book, or buying the book, yet it took nine years before I owned a copy and another year before I read it.

Robert Bly has taken a story I never heard of, “Iron John”, and turned it into an education about the way men have been raised in different times and places. Not only have I now read the story of Iron John, but I understa
Grant Patten
I think it's an important book and yet I'm only giving it 2 stars. Important because it's the first book (that I know of) to directly address these issues plaguing modern man. Many of us are losing much of our masculinity in this 21st Century world, with its knowledge economies, and comfortable day-to-day existences. Men must work harder to exert their masculinity now. To find ways of exerting it, in a positive manner. The book is not an attack on women, as others have stated. But it acknowledge ...more
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Iron John by Robert Bly 1 33 Apr 12, 2008 07:39PM  
  • Fire in the Belly: On Being a Man
  • King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine
  • He: Understanding Masculine Psychology
  • Gods in Everyman
  • Journey Of The Adopted Self: A Quest For Wholeness
  • The Goddess Within: A Guide to the Eternal Myths that Shape Women's Lives
  • The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Calling
  • Meeting the Shadow: The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature (New Consciousness Reader)
  • Japan: A Reinterpretation
  • How Can I Help? Stories and Reflection on Service
  • The Sacred Prostitute: Eternal Aspect of the Feminine (Studies in Jungian Psychology by Jungian Analysts, 32)
  • Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth and the Politics of the Body
  • An Introduction to Japanese Society
  • The Hero Within: Six Archetypes We Live By
  • Myths to Live By
  • Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession
  • Spontaneous Awakening
  • The Myth of Male Power
Robert Bly is an American poet, author, activist and leader of the Mythopoetic Men's Movement.
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“What does it mean when a man falls in love with a radiant face across the room? It may mean that he has some soul work to do. His soul is the issue. Instead of pursuing the woman and trying to get her alone, away from her husband, he needs to go alone himself, perhaps to a mountain cabin, for three months, write poetry, canoe down a river, and dream. That would save some women a lot of trouble.” 17 likes
“The inner boy in a messed-up family may keep on being shamed, invaded, disappointed, and paralyzed for years and years. "I am a victim," he says, over and over; and he is. But that very identification with victimhood keeps the soul house open and available for still more invasions. Most American men today do not have enough awakened or living warriors inside to defend their soul houses. And most people, men or women, do not know what genuine outward or inward warriors would look like, or feel like.” 15 likes
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