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Iron John: A Book About Men
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Iron John: A Book About Men

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  4,165 ratings  ·  385 reviews
In this deeply learned book, poet and translator Robert Bly offers nothing less than a new vision of what it is to be a man.Bly's vision is based on his ongoing work with men and reflections on his own life. He addresses the devastating effects of remote fathers and mourns the disappearance of male initiation rites in our culture. Finding rich meaning in ancient stories an ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published July 28th 2004 by Da Capo Press (first published 1984)
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3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,165 ratings  ·  385 reviews

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Jun 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 19, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
A big "poem" on masculinity, every man should read this book. I don't think I can emphasize this enough. And I guess conjoining the word "masculine" and the word "poem" here is "pregnant" with meaning; that is, so much can be induced here. I'm not saying that poetry is exclusively feminine. It's just that being masculine but lacking the ability to "shudder," as Robert Bly puts it, isn't the real thing—it's the masculine shadow, ungrounded, holding the sword, and swinging it sideways, aimlessly. ...more
Γιώργος Μπέλκος
Μετά το πέρας της τρίτης ανάγνωσης οφείλω να ομολογήσω πως είναι ένα από τα πιο δυνατά αναγνώσματα που έχω διαβάσει. Παρατηρώ πως η επιρροή του είναι πολύ μεγάλη σε θέματα που μέχρι χθες δεν είχα προσεγγίσει με αυτή την πολύ βαθιά ματιά. Πρόκειται για μια ανθρωπολογική μελέτη επάνω στην αρχετυπική μορφή του άρρενος. Χρησιμοποιώντας το παραμύθι του Σιδηρόγιαννου ο συγγραφέας κάνει μια αποσυμβολοποίηση και αποκαλύπτει κρυμμένη γνώση που εμφορούνται τα παραμύθια χιλιάδες χρονια. Κάθε άνδρας (και όχ ...more
Amin Dorosti
در کل کتاب خوبی بود، البته با توجه به تعریفهایی که از آن شنیده بودم، انتظار داشتم که کتاب بهتری باشد. نویسنده در پی تحلیل «مرد» و عناصر گوناگونی بود که در کنار هم یک «مرد» واقعی و درست و حسابی را میسازند، از عناصر اسطورهای و فرهنگی گرفته تا عناصر ژنتیکی و جسمانی. فارغ از مخالفت و موافقت با نظریههای نویسنده، نوع نگاه او و روش تجزیه و تحلیل او برایم جذاب و خواندنی بود و در برخی از بخشهای کتاب واقعا شور و شوق و اشتیاق مرا برمیانگیخت. کتاب خیلی قوی شروع شده و تا میانههای کار هم واقعا خواندنی و جذاب ...more
Feb 11, 2015 rated it did not like it
The promising start:

1. 'Modern men' are losing their identity
"...the images of adult manhood given by popular culture are worn out; a man can no longer depend on them". p.1/237

2. 'Feminised men' are unhappy
"[the soft male has] a gentle attitude toward life...but many of these men are not happy...women begand to desire softer isn't working out". p.3/237

3. 'Feminised men' arose from recent historical changes in parenting
"The Industrial Revolution...pulled fathers away from their sons a
Bart Breen
May 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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
May 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Nov 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Nuggets of wisdom scattered amid the psychobabble.
Ben De Bono
Dec 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 25, 2017 rated it did not like it
What misogynistic drivel. "Real men" are dying off. Shut the fuck up.
Hey boys (and yes I mean boys) and little girls who can't do things for yourself: Go live in a cave and draw on walls while your "aggressive and dangerous" man drags you by your hair and throws you on the bed because he doesn't respect you as a human being. After he's done banging on his chest you can watch him try to figure out how fire works.
I'll stay in the 21st century with ACTUAL REAL men who aren't threatened by a chang
Kevin Fuller
Sep 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
داستان محوری کتاب، داستان ساده ای بود اما تحلیل و توضیحی که نویسنده از اتفاقات بیان کرده بود بسیار زیبا و روشن کننده بود. میتوان گفت این کتاب به نوعی سفر خودشناسی برای مردان است و دانستن اطلاعات ارائه شده در آن برای خانمها هم مفید فایده است. اتفاق جالبی که در حین خواندن کتاب برایم افتاد این بود که با توجه به اینکه نویسنده آن یک آقا بود و طبعا دید حاکم بر کتاب دید مردانه بود، به دنبال کتابی مشابه با دیدگاهی زنانه میگشتم و به جای کتاب با انیمیشن موآنا که یک سفر خودشناسی زنانه ست روبه رو شدم. توصیه ...more
Jun 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
May 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mostafa Ghaemi
برای مردشدن، شروع خوبیه :)
Friedrich Haas
Jun 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
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
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Петър Стойков
През 70-те тази книга предизвиква малка революция, говорейки за мъжественост, корени, мъжки архетипи и мъжки традиции, които ние в съвремието сме загубили, забравили и забранили. На нейна база се създават "мъжки клубове" които са практически мъжки групи за психическа взаимопомощ.

Базира се на приказката за Железния Ханс (от братя Грим), която пък се базира на няколко легенди и приказки на различни народи със сходен сюжет - за дивия човек, целия покрит с козина с ръждив цвят, който прави от момче
Sep 03, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Mostafa Hadian
Nov 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
من ترجمه ی این کتاب را خواندم. کتاب عجیبی بود. پر از استعاره و نماد و اشارات غیرمستقیم. جالب بود که نویسنده ی آمریکایی کتاب از مولوی و حافظ نقل قول میکند.
چند نمونه از جمله هایی از کتاب که برای من الهام بخش بود:

"اکثر نظریه ها و یا روشهای روانشناختی عمیقا هیچ نمیخواند درباره ی شکوه روان عضلانی و مردانگی حرف بزنند. آنها متعقدند همه ی این حرفها راجع به شکوه و عزت بیشتر باد کردن خویش است و همه ی تاجها باید خاک بخورند."
"بعضی از سنت های قدیم میگویند که هیچ مردی بالغ و بزرگسال نمیشود مگر آنکه دنیای روح
Santino Maguire
Mar 28, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Too mystical, too much reliance on shaky metaphors and mythological reinterpretations of bullshit. Also, one gets the impression that Bly is absolutely in love with himself; he'll present poems written by himself as evidence for his point, which would be sketchy under the best circumstances, but when combined with terrible poetry, it becomes unforgivable. Save yourself some time and skip over this one.
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
Done in Robert's own special style. I could hear his voice as I read the book. An excellent book recommended for all guys and women if they want a glimpse into men's inner workings.
Jordan Bethea
This is what happens when a poet and literary critic fancies themselves a scientist and starts trying to extrapolate from myths to the real world. You end up with a load of gibberish. I'm giving it two stars instead of one because I feel like his heart is in the right place, and that there is an actual issue here that needs solving. I think he just completely fails to address anything reasonable at all.
Sep 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, půjčeno
Tato kniha nepochybně předestřela spoustu podnětů k sebezpytu. Někdy jsem ale pochyboval, zda opravdu míří k objevení podstaty muže a mužství - nebo jestli jde jen o exkurzi do literární teorie.
Nestor Leal
Jun 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Jungian analysis of manhood in Brothers Grimm's Iron John fairy tale. A bit elaborate but still interesting.
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
SO MUCH I disagree with, am concerned by, etc., but this book made me think more, take more notes, annotate harder, reach for other sources, consider my life more than any book I've read in I don't know how long. Dangerous, perhaps, but fascinating, and enlightening if read carefully, I think.
Qiaochu Yuan
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Ow.
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Iron John by Robert Bly 1 39 Apr 12, 2008 07:39PM  
  • Fire in the Belly: On Being a Man
  • He: Understanding Masculine Psychology
  • The Goddess Within: A Guide to the Eternal Myths that Shape Women's Lives
  • King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine
  • Gods in Everyman
  • The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Calling
  • Love and Awakening: Discovering the Sacred Path of Intimate Relationship
  • Descent to the Goddess: A Way of Initiation for Women (Studies in Jungian Psychology by Jungian Analysts, 6)
  • Spontaneous Awakening
  • The Cry for Myth
  • Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth and the Politics of the Body
  • Swamplands of the Soul: New Life in Dismal Places (Studies in Jungian Psychology by Jungian Analysts, 73)
  • Adam's Return: The Five Promises of Male Initiation
  • An Open Life: Joseph Campbell in Conversation with Michael Toms
  • Practicing Radical Honesty: How to Complete the Past, Live in the Present, and Build a Future with a Little Help from Your Friends
  • A Primer of Jungian Psychology
  • Peace, Love and Healing: Bodymind Communication  the Path to Self-Healing: An Exploration
  • Women's Ways of Knowing: The Development of Self, Voice, and Mind
Robert Bly is an American poet, author, activist and leader of the Mythopoetic Men's Movement.
Robert Bly was born in western Minnesota in 1926 to parents of Norwegian stock. He enlisted in the Navy in 1944 and spent two years there. After one year at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, he transferred to Harvard and thereby joined the famous group of writers who were undergraduates at that time, which i
“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.” 26 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.” 18 likes
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