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The Hero with a Thousand Faces

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“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won”

Since its release in 1949, The Hero with a Thousand Faces has influenced millions of readers by combining the insights of modern psychology with Joseph Campbell’s revolutionary understanding of comparative mythology. In these pages, Campbell outlines the Hero’s Journey, a universal motif of adventure and transformation that runs through virtually all of the world’s mythic traditions. He also explores the Cosmogonic Cycle, the mythic pattern of world creation and destruction.

As part of the Joseph Campbell Foundation’s Collected Works of Joseph Campbell, this third edition features expanded illustrations, a comprehensive bibliography, and more accessible sidebars.

As relevant today as when it was first published, The Hero with a Thousand Faces continues to find new audiences in fields ranging from religion and anthropology to literature and film studies. The book has also profoundly influenced creative artists — including authors, songwriters, game designers, and filmmakers — and continues to inspire all those interested in the inherent human need to tell stories.

418 pages, Hardcover

First published June 10, 1949

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About the author

Joseph Campbell

326 books5,172 followers
Joseph Campbell was an American author and teacher best known for his work in the field of comparative mythology. He was born in New York City in 1904, and from early childhood he became interested in mythology. He loved to read books about American Indian cultures, and frequently visited the American Museum of Natural History in New York, where he was fascinated by the museum's collection of totem poles.

Campbell was educated at Columbia University, where he specialized in medieval literature, and continued his studies at universities in Paris and Munich. While abroad he was influenced by the art of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, the novels of James Joyce and Thomas Mann, and the psychological studies of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. These encounters led to Campbell's theory that all myths and epics are linked in the human psyche, and that they are cultural manifestations of the universal need to explain social, cosmological, and spiritual realities. 

After a period in California, where he encountered John Steinbeck and the biologist Ed Ricketts, he taught at the Canterbury School, and then, in 1934, joined the literature department at Sarah Lawrence College, a post he retained for many years. During the 40s and '50s, he helped Swami Nikhilananda to translate the Upanishads and The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. He also edited works by the German scholar Heinrich Zimmer on Indian art, myths, and philosophy. In 1944, with Henry Morton Robinson, Campbell published A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake. His first original work, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, came out in 1949 and was immediately well received; in time, it became acclaimed as a classic. In this study of the "myth of the hero," Campbell asserted that there is a single pattern of heroic journey and that all cultures share this essential pattern in their various heroic myths. In his book he also outlined the basic conditions, stages, and results of the archetypal hero's journey.

Throughout his life, he traveled extensively and wrote prolifically, authoring many books, including the four-volume series The Masks of God, Myths to Live By, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space and The Historical Atlas of World Mythology. Joseph Campbell died in 1987. In 1988, a series of television interviews with Bill Moyers, The Power of Myth, introduced Campbell's views to millions of people.

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Profile Image for BlackOxford.
1,085 reviews68.4k followers
September 27, 2021
The Divine Aesthetic of Hope

Written in 1948, Hero With A Thousand Faces is only slightly younger than I am. I was introduced to it in my mid-twenties, almost half a century ago. But upon re-reading it I find it as revelatory as it was then. By avoiding the idea of faith entirely, Campbell keeps alive a religion of hope. Hero With A Thousand Faces is a theology of the God of hope. It is a description of this God as a way of perceiving both the world and oneself. It presents, therefore, not an aesthetic idea of God, but God as an aesthetic, the Divine Aesthetic.

Campbell’s Divine Aesthetic is divine because it is “the one, shape-shifting yet marvelously constant story that we find, together with a challengingly persistent suggestion of more remaining to be experienced than will ever be known or told.” It is both universal and infinite. It applies in every culture and in every age. It is constantly the same and yet manifests itself in uncountably many ways, in art, music, dance, science, technology, literature, and of course religion. Its scripture includes fairy tales and learned treatises. Its followers are everyone who can speak, and even infants and the infirm who can’t.

We live in a world of symbols and complex arrangements of symbols we call stories. Some we create for ourselves, some that others create we are born into, and some are essentially eternal. These latter appear to arrive with our genes; they are quite literally bred into us. Befitting their status, these symbols are beyond our control. Hence they appear omnipotent in the specific sense that the Divine Aesthetic includes all aesthetics (including itself, in defiance of pedestrian, finite, human logic). And, who knows, perhaps they are as powerful as they appear. We have no way of assessing their scope or the full character of their existence. They are part of us yet entirely separate. They unite us but allow us to think we are entirely independent of one other. They themselves are not divine, as Plato thought; but they are manifestations of the incomprehensibly divine made suitable for human consumption.

These symbols are gifts; we did nothing to earn them. And their ostensible purpose is to help us through life, and ultimately into death. They are there to comfort and challenge, to explain and confuse, to point out the way forward and to appreciate the road not taken. But above all else, these are symbols of hope, that whoever or whatever is their source knows us better than we know ourselves, and knows us to be bigger, larger, more comprehensive, more inclusive than we can imagine. We are the heroes of our own stories, if we are willing to take these stories seriously.

To call these stories myths is accurate but, in the way of language, vaguely pejorative since the implication is that they are ‘merely’ fictional and therefore not a component of reality. The word disguises the fact that these stories are “the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human cultural manifestation.” These are not conventional moral tales; they are stories of adventure, “unpredictable, and dangerous adventure,” from which we will not survive.

We embark on our unique adventure but we are never alone. Our contemporaries are always there to compare notes, to provide encouragement, to share confusion and pain as necessary. And the records of the past adventures of the dead are readily available. So our ‘congregation’ is as large as we care to make it. And aside from access to a reasonable library (ah, the internet!) we have no need for additional resources. The Divine Aesthetic is Green as well as companionable.

Of course there are essential rituals within the Divine Aesthetic, points at which one comes more closely to the source of the symbols and their stories. As Campbell puts it: “from the tomb of the womb to the womb of the tomb, we come: an ambiguous, enigmatical incursion into a world of solid matter that is soon to melt from us, like the substance of a dream.” It is perhaps that point of melting, which is really our extinction, that each ritualistic step in the hero’s journey is meant to emphasize. Dust to dust, but between the two is something exciting. Or at least we are entitled to hope.
Profile Image for Trevor.
1,301 reviews22k followers
March 8, 2008
We studied the Myth Cycle at Uni and I was interested enough to come back to this book years later and read the whole thing. It is well worth a read – an endlessly fascinating book by a fascinating man.

The idea is that there is basically only one story, the grand story of our lives, the monomyth. This story is told in millions of different ways, but ultimately every story ever told is either just a retelling of this grand story, or it is a re-telling of certain aspects of this more complete story.

I read, probably about a decade ago now, that if you submit a screenplay to Disney for consideration they basically use the myth cycle to ‘judge’ the worthiness of your script. And they’ll say things like, “So, I wonta hear what you got to say, where’s the supernatural assistance from a female divine for gad sake – ay, where’s dat at?” Or however it is that Disney executives speak.

I fall somewhere further from that particular tree. I think the Myth Cycle is a fascinating idea, fascinating in the real sense that in fixates the mind once you begin contemplating it, and it is something I’m very glad I’ve heard about. But would I use it to structure every story I ever write? Well, no. Is it the touchstone I return to when appraising a work of fiction? Again, no. Like feminist criticism, Marxist criticism, Freudian criticism, Structuralist criticism, deconstructionalist criticism – this particular variety of Jungian criticism is good to know about, but any schema that seeks to encompass the whole of literature is only ever going to end up being a girdle. After a short while the constraints and pinching imposed on literature by the theory are sure to become too much to suffer and the restrictive garment needs to be taken off, if not cast aside. We may not be nearly as pretty or shapely with these garments off, but at least we can breath.

Ideas in the cycle like ‘the rejection of the call’ come into my mind constantly while reading or watching films – the rejection of the call to adventure is a cliché in so many texts – as it is in life. And that is the point, Campbell doesn’t see his ideas as being about interpreting literature, but that the interpreting of literature is a way to come to an understanding of our own lives – and that is something I wholeheartedly agree with. So, rather than take this work as the last word on the structure of stories and the monomyth and the possibilities of self-transcendence, this is a book that is better read as an introduction to thinking about literature as a way of coming to understand our own lives.

And what better task is there? And what surer guide than literature?
Profile Image for Bracken.
353 reviews3 followers
March 30, 2008
I was very excited to read this work because of its potential to teach me a great deal about mythology, but found that it was a total piece of tripe. I felt like Campbell was trying too hard to prove his knowledge, which was apparent in the great diversity of myths referenced in the work, but he failed to logically plan the layout of the text. I can understand the overall layout of the text, but it didn't work on the chapter/section scale. It was so disorganized that I often felt like a member of a disaster cleanup team assigned to salvage and rebuild a town. Horribly hacked and detached bits of myth were scattered all over the place seemingly stochastically. If he would have picked a few myths and analyzed each using his methods and arguments, the book would have flowed much better and I would have enjoyed it much more.

I found myself wondering, “Who is the audience of the book?” At times, it was written for colleges and students of mythology and philosophy, but in other passages it was written for those with a rudimentary knowledge of mythology.

Another complaint I had was that Campbell often cited dreams in his arguments about the “monomyth,” but did little to tie those dreams to the myths or topics he was discussing in the section. It seemed like he felt obliged to include psychoanalytical elements to stay cool with his contemporaries.

Overall, like a very painful endurance race, I feel like a better man having read it. I did glean out some mythology tidbits and was able to follow where Campbell was trying to lead me. Unfortunately, the experience hurt needlessly.

While I’m still on my soapbox, I would just like to mention how lame it is when authors add figures to their work, but don’t reference (or even mention) them in their text.
Profile Image for بثينة العيسى.
Author 23 books25.9k followers
February 11, 2020
هذه هي القراءة الثانية لـ كتاب "البطل بألف وجه" وأعتقد بأن دافعي هذه المرة هو أن أرى إن كان قادرًا على الاحتفاظ بسحره بعد كل هذي السنوات.

قرأتُه لأول مرة قبل أكثر من 15 سنة، وأذكر شعوري بالنشوة أمام اكتشاف التشابهات الأزلية في كل حكاية شعبية، وكل أسطورة، وكل خرافة، وكل قصة مقدسة. إن كل أشكال القص تغرفُ على ما يبدو من المعين نفسه. الذاكرة الأزلية بحسب داريوش شايغان، اللا وعي الجمعي بحسب يونغ.

يشرّح جوزيف كامبل الثيمات المتكررة في كل تلك المرويات (بعضها يتجاوز عمرها آلاف السنوات) لكي نصل إلى فكرة مريحة مفادها وحدة التجربة ال��وحية عند الإنسان. أن الإنسان واحد في كل مكان، ولأنه واحد؛ بألف وجه، فالحكاية دائما هي الحكاية نفسها، وبألف وجهٍ أيضًا.

الكتاب غني بالأمثلة، بل متخم. يتتبع تقاليد السرد الكامنة في المثيولوجيات والقصص الشعبي، ويجادل بأنّ الأسطورة مصنوعة من المادة نفسها التي صُنعت منها أحلامنا.

يشير الكتاب، على نحوٍ غير مباشر، إلى طريق روحاني يسلكه كل إنسان في صدد ولادة جديدة، وفي صدد تجاوز أناهُ. إن قصة البطل هي في حقيقتها قصة الإنسان، وقد يظن البعض بسذاجة أن وظيفة المجتمع هي أن يهيئك للصحوة الروحية، لكن الواقع أن العكس هو الصحيح، إيقاظ العالم، الوجود بشكلٍ فاعل في المجتمع، يعني أن تكون الشخص الذي يقرع الأجراس، لا أن تكون الجرس.

أحببت الترجمة جدًا؛ أنيقة ونظيفة، غير متكلفة بالمرة، والهوامش جاءت بالقدر اللازم.

Profile Image for Lucas.
20 reviews5 followers
March 6, 2012
I first read this book when I was 19. It saved both my step-father's ass and my soul.

I have always been a fan of mythology and folklore, and Joseph Campbell pulls tales from many cultures to show how mankind has virtually the same heroic journey tucked away in its subconscious regardless of culture or even time. He also explains the importance of myths, which is something lots of people can't grasp because they can't get over the fact the stories aren't real. Myths were never meant to be facts and would lose their significance if they were. They are meant to be sources of inspiration that a person of flesh can turn to in order to face a harsh reality with courage.

Here's how this book saved a soul and an ass. There's a chapter that at first made no sense to me called "The Hero as Emperor and as Tyrant." My problem with the chapter was that heroes aren't tyrants; they slay tyrants! Shortly after reading this my drunken violent step-father got out of line with me.

I had pushed back against my step-father for years, but suddenly this fight went very different. There was a point where we both realized that if I kept fighting it would be a massacre. He retreated, and I wanted to give chase. I wanted to make him pay for the tiny child he terrorized for years (and that kid's sister too). Then the chapter suddenly made sense. So I beat him to a pulp, then what? Is violence now my new answer to everything? Perhaps I could figure out an appropriate line to draw where I would turn away from reason and towards force....maybe. The more I thought about it, the more It seemed like I would only end up supplanting one monster with a bigger stronger one.

I then realized that if I was going to prove my true strength, I would have to abandon the easy (and probably satisfying) task of crushing my step-father and instead take on the more daunting task or conquering my own rage. So I let him get away, though I did spend the next six months shooting him looks that made him clear out of my vicinity.

I seem to have a weird kind of luck in that I often end up reading the book I need at the time I need it, and this is a perfect example. But personal anecdotes aside, I found the entire book enjoyable
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews26 followers
February 7, 2021
The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell

Campbell explores the theory that mythological narratives frequently share a fundamental structure. The similarities of these myths brought Campbell to write his book in which he details the structure of the monomyth.

He calls the motif of the archetypal narrative, "the hero's adventure". In a well-known quote from the introduction to The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell summarizes the monomyth: A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش نسخه فارسی روز ششم ماه فوریه سال 2008میلادی

عنوان: ق‍ه‍رم‍ان‌ ه‍زار‌چ‍ه‍ره‌؛ نویسنده ج‍وزف‌ ک‍م‍پ‍ب‍ل‌؛ ب‍رگ‍ردان‌ ش‍ادی‌ خ‍س‍روپ‍ن‍اه‌؛ م‍ش‍ه‍د: گ‍ل‌ آف‍ت‍اب‌‏‫، 1385؛ در 399ص؛ شابک 9645599644؛ چاپ دوم 1386؛ چاپ سوم 1387؛ چاپ چهارم 1389؛ چاپ پنجم 1392؛ شابک 9789645599643؛ ‬ چاپ ششم 1394؛ چاپ هشتم 1396؛ موضوع روانکاوی - اسطوره شناسی - از نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده 20م

قهرمان هزارچهره، مشهورترین و بهترین اثر «جوزف کمپبل»، نویسنده و اسطوره ‌شناس مشهور «آمریکایی» است، که سیر و سفر درونی انسان را، در قالب قهرمانان اسطوره ‌ای، پی می‌گیرد، و با بررسی قصه‌ ها، و افسانه‌ های جهان، نشان می‌دهد، که چطور این کهن الگو، در هر زمان و مکان، خود را در قالبی نو، تکرار می‌کند، تا انسان را، به سیر و سفر درونی، و شناخت نفس، راهنمایی کند

کمپبل در این کتاب، بسیاری از نمادهای مذهبی، و اسطوره‌ ای جهان را، بررسی کرده، و با در کنار هم قرار دادن آنها، نشان داده است، که چطور افسانه‌ ها، و نمادهای اقوام، و مذاهب گوناگون، معادل و موازی یکدیگرند؛ او در میان این شباهت‌ها، به دنبال راستیهای بنیادین می‌گردد، که انسان در طول هزاران سال زندگی، بر روی کره‌ ی خاکی، براساس آن‌ها، روزگار خود را، بگذرانده است؛ به راستی این کتاب، جزو کتابهای کلاسیک و رسمی رشته های «ادبیات»، «اسطوره شناسی» و «فیلمنامه نویسی» است، و کارگردانان مشهور «هالیوود»، تحت تاثیر آن، با بازسازی اسطوره های کهن، در کالبدی نو، پرداخته اند؛ «جنگ ستارگان»، «ارباب حلقه ها»، «ماتریکس» و...؛ از این کتاب الهام گرفته اند؛

یکی از کسانیکه بسیار تحت تاثیر این کتاب قرار گرفته؛ «جرج لوکاس»، فیلمساز نامدار «آمریکایی» است، ایشان فیلمنامه های «جنگهای ستاره ای» را، بر اساس ساختار روایت اسطوره ای «قهرمان هزار چهره»، که در این کتاب توضیح داده میشود، بنا کرده اند؛ نخستین بار این کتاب، در سال 1949میلادی به چاپ رسید، و بارها تجدید چاپ شد؛ بعدها در سالهای پایانی دهه هشتاد میلادی، «کریستوفر ووگلر، فیلنامه نویس» با الهام از «قهرمان هزار چهره» کتاب «سفر نویسنده» را، بنگاشتند، که در آن، تمامی تئوریهای ارائه شده، توسط «کمپبل» را، برای نوشتن فیلمنامه روزآمد و بهنگام کردند

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 18/11/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,528 reviews978 followers
September 7, 2015

Full circle, from the tomb of the womb to the womb of the tomb, we come: an ambiguous, enigmatical incursion into a world of solid matter that is soon to melt from us, like the substance of a dream. And, looking back at what had promised to be our own unique, unpredictable, and dangerous adventure, all we find in the end is such a series of standard metamorphoses as men and women have undergone in every quarter of the world, in all recorded centuries, and under every odd disguise of civilization.

Joseph Campbell engages here in a comprehensive comparative study of these 'standard metamorphoses', looking at the primary sources coming from all corners of the world and throughout the ages of mankind. From the earliest Assirian records to the dream trances of Siberian shamans, through the labyrinth of the Indian pantheon and into the lofty halls of the Greek Olympos, equally fascinated by the African tribal oral traditions as by the Native American legends or the cosmologies of the Pacific Islands. He sees the common threads linking Buddha to Jesus, Tezeus to Viracocha or to Cuchulain : the personalities (heroes, prophets, gods, role models) that stand out of the crowd and define what it means to be human, to be alive, to transcend the limits of the flesh.

Campbell calls his conclusion of the study The Monomyth : the fundamental structure that appears in different disguises in all the stories, mythologies, fables and folktales he comes across:

My hope is that a comparative elucidation may contribute to the perhaps not-quite-desperate cause of those forces that are working in the present world for unification, not in the name of some ecclesiastical or political empire, but in the sense of human mutual understanding. As we are told in the Vedas: "Truth is one, the sages speak of it by many names."

An extremely ambitious project that is hampered in the eyes of the modern reader by too heavy a reliance on the Freudian psychanalysis instruments so popular at the time the book was written. But I can find no fault in the humanist impulse that started the project of mapping the elements that unite us instead of those that divide us and leads us to wars or alienation or simply despair at trying to make sense of the modern world. Plus, the encyclopaedic richness of Campbell's bibliographic sources - folklore, historical, literary, philosophical, psychological - leaves the reader in awe of the monumental scope and the thoroughness in compiling all the disparate elements into a coherent theory. The beauty of his approach to the study of mythology is that the same modern reader doesn't feel obliged to accept Campbell's conclusions as dogma: they can and should be challenged in the parts that are forced or poorly argumented (again that Freudian bias). The body of evidence Campbell collected remains the main argument for calling this a seminal work that influenced a plethora of scientists and artists in the aftermath of the first publication. (see the wikipedia article for an impressive list of emulators)

The wonder is that the characteristic efficacy to touch and inspire deep creative centers dwells in the smallest nursery fairy tale - as the flavor of the ocean is contained in a droplet or the whole mystery of life within the egg of a flea.

What is the monomyth? According to Campbell it is like a mathematical equation using mythical symbols to describe the hero's journey: the cyclical , universal quest of the human soul for understanding the meaning of life, for transcendence, for renewal of the forces of life in face of the abbyss. Not everybody is capable of making the journey, and this is where the hero comes in: he is the chosen one, the special person who hears the call for adventure, sets out on the perilous road to knowledge, wins the ultimate prize (slays the dragon, marries the fair maid, steals the fire from the gods, reaches Nirvana) and comes back with the boon to offer it back to his fellow men.

It has always been the prime function of mythology and rite to supply the symbols that carry the human spirit forward, in counteraction to those constant human fantasies that tend to tie it back. In fact, it may well be that the very high incidence of neuroticism among ourselves follows from the decline of such effective spiritual aid.

While the main initial appeal for me was in the examples Campbell uses to illustrate the different stages of the hero journey, looking through the numerous bookmarks I made while reading it turns out that what I am left with at the end of the lecture is the connection the author makes to the world of today, arguing that myths and symbols are as important now as they were in antiquity. He quotes Arnold J Toynbee in support of the thesis, before engaging in some speculations of his own:

Schism in the soul, schism in the body social, will not be resolved by any scheme of return to the good old days (archaism), or by programs guaranteed to render an ideal projected future (futurism), or even by the most realistic, hardheaded work to weld together again the deteriorating elements. Only birth can conquer death - the birth, not of the old thing again, but of something new. Within the soul, within the body social, there must be - if we are to experience long survival - a continuous "recurrence of birth" (palingenesis) to nullify the unremitting recurrences of death. (from Arnold J Toynbee - A study of History, 1934)

Campbell's is not the first study of camparative religion and myth that I've read (Mircea Eliade still stand at the top of my list) and this book failed to convince me from time to time in the soundness of his arguments, but what I really appreciated in him is the clarity of the exposition, erudite without turning populist, the passion and often the lyrical turn of phrase that evidence his deep rooted humanism:

The multitude of men and women choose the less adventurous way of comparatively unconscious civic and tribal routines. But these seekers, too, are saved - by virtue of the inherited symbolic aids of society, the rites of passage, the grace-yielding sacraments, given to mankind of old by the redeemers and handed down through millenniums. It is only those who know neither an inner call nor an outer doctrine whose plight truly is desperate; that is to say, most of us today, in this labyrinth without and within the heart. Alas, where is the guide, that fond virgin, Ariadne, to supply the simple clue that will give us the courage to face the Minotaur, and the means then to find our way to freedom when the monster has been met and slain?

Witnessing the degradation of the popular religions (Gott ist Tot spracht Zarathustra) and philosophies after two devastating world wars, the rise in psychological problems for the stressed out modern man, Campbell tries to reinvent, to breath new life into the old symbols, to push back against the terror, the unknown, the void. This is the role reserved for the hero, in his guise as the redeemer and custodian of rites of passage:

Beyond them is darkness, the unknown, and danger; just as beyond the parental watch is danger to the infant and beyond the protection of his society danger to the member of the tribe. The usual person is more than content, he is even proud, to remain within the indicated bounds, and popular belief gives him every reason to fear so much as the first step into the unexplored. Thus the sailors of the bold vessels of Columbus, breaking the horizon of the medieval mind - sailing, as they thought, into the boundless ocean of immortal being that surrounds the cosmos, like an endless mythological serpent biting its tail - had to be cozened and urged on like children, because of their fear of the fabled leviathans, mermaids, dragon kings, and other monsters of the deep.

Campbell's symbols allow for integration of all road openers, creators/gods and spiritual fathers into the structure of the monomyth. They are the force that oppose stagnation / death with renewal / life. The heroes are the ones who answer yes to the call of adventure:

Whether small or great, and no matter what stage or grade of life, the call rings up the curtain, always, on a mystery of transfiguration - a rite, or moment, of spiritual passage, which, when complete, amounts to a dying and a birth. The familiar life horizon has been outgrown; the old concepts, ideals, and emotional patterns no longer fit; the time for the passing of a treshold is at hand.

And again, the author reflects on how these myths and legends are still relevant to us:

The psychological dangers through which earlier generations were guided by the symbols and spiritual exercises of their mythological and religious inheritance, we today (in so far as we are unbelievers, or, if believers, in so far as our inherited beliefs fail to represent the real problems of contemporary life) must face alone, or, at best, with only tentative, impromptu, and not often effective guidance. This is our problem as modern, "enlightened" individuals, for whom all gods and devils have been rationalized out of existence.

I feel I am rambling in my notes, so before I continue I must point out that Campbell is organized to the point of fussiness, where every item of his equation has its proper place and order that must be followed like the above mentioned Ariadne's thread to the logical conclusion he wants to make. This is an aspect of the book that raised some questions to me about cherry-picking the evidence and choosing only those examples that best describe the monomyth while ignoring the counter-arguments. Sticking to the path also fragments the myths and legends used in the text, leaving me with bts and pieces of the stories where I wished I could read the whole shebang. So let's see once again what are the stages of the journey:

I - Departure : the chosen one is called on the quest. He is reluctant to leave his old life behind but supernatural forces push him on, usually in the form of a wise on who offers aid or advice. The road to the magical realm is barred and the gate is usually guarded by a monster. After crossin the gate to the new realm, the hero is beset by adversity (Campbell calls this chapter The Belly of the Whale )

II - Initiation : The hero must pass a series of dangerous tests in order to prove his worth. ( "Or do ye think that ye shall enter the Garden of Bliss without such trials as came to those who passed away before you?" - Quoran - 2:214 ) He meets with the rulers of the supernatural world (Earth Mother, Temptress, Father figure) and then he receives knowledge and powers of his own. This chapter was particularly drowned in Freudian imagery and rants about the power of the subconscious.

III - Return : a hero who keeps all these boons to himself (wisdom, immortality, treasure, etc) is not much use to the rest of the world, so he must return to the lower plane of existence. Not all of them do though, choosingto remain detached in their bliss, gazing at their navels or whatnot. Others get chased by the Gods of the magical world who would like to keep the secrets of life the universe and everything to themselves. The road back is a riddled with perils as the one leading in. But the succesful hero is now master of both worlds (what Mircea Eliade calls The Sacred and The Profane) and gifts his hard won knowledge to the people left behind.

IV - The Keys : the author tries to identify the nature of the treasure the hero has brough back from his journey. the individual has only to discover his own position with reference to this general human formula (the monomyth?), and let it then assist him past his restricting walls. Who and where are his ogres? Those are the reflections of the unsolved enigmas of his own humanity. What are his ideals? Those are the symptoms of his grasp of life.

This is only the first part of the book. The second one takes a more metaphysical approach and instead of focusing on the details of the hero journey, chooses a cosmological perspective and looks at the dualities of existence - at something creating out of nothing, at the cycle of the universe reflected in the rhythm of the solar cycle, of the day/night sequence, at birth / growth / death in all that lives. One could say the first part is descriptive / informative and the second speculative / meditative. The sources are the same, with more emphasis on genesis stories and folk tales and less on literary, historical one; the faces of the heroes familiar ones, whether he or she is a warrior, a lover, a wise Emperor or an abusive tyrant, a saint or mystic redeemer. I'm afraid I'm running out of space for a regular Goodreads review, and I have so many quotes saved that I don't want to lose, so I finish with them and maybe return for more comments at a later date:

In most mythologies, the images of mercy and grace are rendered as vividly as those of justice and wrath, so that a balance is maintained, and the heart is buoyed rather than scourged along its way.
Humor is the touchstone of the truly mythological as distinct from the more literal-minded and sentimental theological mood.
About Viracocha and the creation of the world: The essence of time is flux, dissolution of the momentarily existent; and the essence of life is time. In his mercy, in his love for the forms of time, this demiurgic man of men yields countenance to the sea of pangs; but in his full awareness of what he is doing, the seminal waters of life that he gives are the tears of his eyes.
Stars, darkness, a lamp, a phantom, dew, a bubble
A dream, a flash of lightning, and a cloud:
Thus we should look upon all that was made.

Vajracchedika, 32 (Sacred Books of the East, transl. Max Muller)
a message against intolerance, an appeal to consider the bigger picture instead of the little slice inherited by your group: Instead of clearing his own heart the zealot tries to clear the world. The laws of the City of God are applied only to his in-group (tribe, church, nation, class, or what not) while the fire of a perpetual holy war is hurled (with good conscience, and indeed a sense of pious service) against whatever uncircumsiced, barbarian, heathen, "native" or alien people happens to occupy the position of neighbor.
why all religions are worthy of study: Symbols are only the 'vehicles' of communication; they must not be mistaken for the final term, the 'tenor', of their reference. No matter how attractive or impressive they may seem, they remain but convenient means, accomodated to the understanding. Hence the personality of personalities of God - whether represented in trinitarian, dualistic or unitarian terms, in polytheistic, monotheistic or henotheistic terms, pictorially or verbally, as documented fact or apocalyptic vision - no one should attempt to interpret as the final thing. The problem of the theologian is to keep his symbol translucent, so that it may not block out the very light it is supposed to convey.
an argument against stagnation: A god outgrown becomes immediately a life-destroying demon. The form has to be broken and the energies released.
about the need to belong: The problem of mankind today is precisely the opposite to that of men in the comparatively stable periods of those great coordinating mythologies which now are known as lies. Then all meaning was in the group, in the great anonymous forms, none in the self-expressive individual; today no meaning is in the group - none in the world: all is in the individual.
the joy of diversity: It is necessary for men to understand, and be able to see, that through various symbols the same redemption is revealed. "Truth is one," we read in the Vedas; "the sages call it by many names." A single song is being inflected through all the colorations of the human choir. General propaganda for one or another of the local solutions, therefore, is superfluous - or much rather, a menace. The way to become human is to learn to recognize the lineaments of God in all of the wonderful modulations of the face of man.
and finally, the true need for the hero: It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse. And so every one of us shares the supreme ordeal - carries the cross of the redeemer - not in the bright moments of his tribe's great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair.
Profile Image for Morgan Blackledge.
621 reviews2,034 followers
February 15, 2019
Mythology helps us experience the rapture of being alive. I think this is the central takeaway from Campbell's work.

Modern academics have (absolutely correctly) criticized Campbell's work, e.g. his broad sweeping assertions and shaky (at best) methodologies. But on this basic point Campbell was (and maybe still is) nonpareil.

You can dismiss Campbell on many levels. But on this one point. I don't think you can easily dismiss him or this impactful text - which is pretty much his master work.

I know people get overly reverent about the man and his work, and overlook a lot of flaws that make serious scholars scream. So yeah. I get it. It's a 70 year old text. It's got some flaws and the field has progressed.

But I think you can throw the baby out with the bath water if you don't get that one key insight - mythology helps people experience the rapture of being alive.

If you fail to get that one -really important- takeaway, you have wasted your time reading this text. Start over from page one. Watch the Bill Moyers PBS thing. Do what ever you have to do. But get that nugget.

Beyond that, I actually don't have anything more to contribute to the volumes of rightful praise this book has already received.

But I can feel an overwrought, really pretentious, crabby, and potentially even dickish rant bubbling up from the depths of my soul.

So consider yourself warned.

I'm ranting because another GR user gave this brilliant text a 1 star review, which is not so special, but 43 other GR users liked that POS review, and it is now ranked at #3 based on said likes.

1 star?


1 star......like 1 star.

For real......

You (and 43 other geniuses) think Joseph Campbell's utterly original, ground breaking, world changing, comprehensive comparative survey of world mythology, and subsequent discovery of a meta-framework (i.e. the mono-myth) that underlies just about all of the worlds mythological systems, and the additional absolutely astounding achievement of integrating this insight with Jungian psychoanalytic theory, written in the 1940's, on a manual typewriter, and researched in books, before google, and adopted by popular culture and highbrow literature alike in the form of the 'heroes journey', which provided the basis for films like Star Wars, and well, just about every other piece of modern story telling......that's a 1 star achievement.


That same GR user refered to Campbell's staggeringly important text as 'a total piece of tripe'.


Total tripe?

Meaning, nonsense, or rubbish.

That seems a little ungenerous.

So what are the reviewer's (let's call him Lone Star) complaints?

I'm assuming it's is a dude because....we'll....1 star.


Lone Star quips that [Joseph Campbell] 'failed to logically plan the layout of the text' and didn't 'work on the the chapter section/scale.'

That same user gave an (admittedly cool af looking) graphic novel 5 stars.


So would Lone Star have given Campbells masterwork an additional star or two if it were limited to 30 pages, and illustrated with Manga style pictures and word bubbles?

Would Lone Star also complain that Henry Ford's (first ever) 1913 assembly line was crappy because it only produced 1 car every 12 hours?

Would Lone Star assert that Mozart's music has too many notes, or that Lincoln's Gettysburg address is too long, and should have been a TED talk, or that Shakespeare says old sounding words and should talk normal, or that the Sistine Chapel would be better if it was animated, or that the film adaptation of Streetcar Named Desire should have been in color, or that the sermon on the mount should have been shortened to 140 characters and dropped on Twitter?

Get it?

I just provided an ironic list of examples of important works of culture, and then gave intentionally banal critiques of them, based on a comical (fictional) misunderstanding of the historical context of the work, that would have to be considered in order to to properly understand it.

Get it?

LOL right?


Lone Star continues: [Campbell's peerless work of scholarship contained] 'horribly hacked and detached bits of myth, scattered all over the place seemingly stochastically.'



Did Lone Star select that little zinger of a word from the thesaurus feature on the smart phone he was working on?

Maybe he originally put random, but looked it up and picked 'stochastically' because it sounded smarter.


To bad Campbell didn't just do that kind of thing when he wrote his visionary text that changed everything.


Here's a couple of quotes from another DWM that express my feelings far better than I myself am able:

"Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see."
-Arthur Schopenhauer

"or appreciate."

"Every man takes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world."
-Arthur Schopenhauer

"particularly college undergrads."

So how lame is it for a 50 year old man (me) to troll a random 20 year old on GR.

Exceedingly lame.


But 1 star, and 43 likes?

Profile Image for Nandakishore Mridula.
1,255 reviews2,298 followers
May 27, 2015
Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated by the similarities between Hindu myths and Greek myths. Then during my early twenties, I discovered Campbell and said to myself: "Voila! Somebody has noticed it before me!" Ever since then, I've been a Campbell fan.

The structure of the monomyth is so prevalent in many hero cycles, fairy tales, children's stories and popular films so it's a wonder how anybody can miss it. Campbell does an exhaustive job of digging through various mythologies of the world and bringing the similarities to light.

Whether you are a serious student of myth or just an ordinary person who loves stories, this book will hold you spellbound.
Profile Image for Ross Blocher.
432 reviews1,387 followers
July 16, 2018
It's hard for me to know how to feel about The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Joseph Campbell's construction-and-deconstruction of the "monomyth" has hugely influenced storytelling, and rightly earned its central position in any discussion of story structure and cultural analysis. At the same time, it is replete with Jung- and Freud-infused speculation on psychology. Nonsense, really. I would fault the book less for these long tracts of commentary if they weren't stated so definitively. Here's an example:
...They are sent on a long journey to neighboring and distant clans, imitative of the mythological wanderings of the phallic ancestors. In this way, "within" the Great Father Snake as it were, they are introduced to an interesting new object world that compensates them for their loss of the mother; and the male phallus, instead of the female breast, is made the central point (axis mundi) of the imagination. The culminating instruction of the long series of rites is the release of the boy's own hero-penis from the protection of its foreskin, through the frightening and painful attack upon it of the circumciser: [He goes on to quote a Dr. Roheim] "What is cut off the boy is really the mother... The glans in the foreskin is the child in the mother."

Modern romance, like Greek tragedy, celebrates the mystery of dismemberment, which is life in time.

This kind of fiddle faddle is excruciating for me to read (or have read to me: I listened to the audiobook version and then perused a physical copy). I want to absorb what is being said at the same time I am resisting the formation of wasted neural connections in my head. I found myself regularly exclaiming, "You couldn't possibly know that!" It's hard to say which percentage of the book is useless blather. Perhaps a quarter? The rest of the book proves more useful...

My favorite pieces were recountings of the myths themselves: Joseph Campbell's expertise was in collecting myths from around the world, and it was fascinating to hear wide-ranging stories from Native American, Indian, Chinese, Norse, African and other cultures. As far as I could discern from previous knowledge and works cited, he's a reliable narrator when it comes to sharing this class of information. I found myself wanting to re-read Sir James George Frazer's The Golden Bough, which I recall having similar cultural depth without the added speculation... though that recollection is roughly 16 years old.

The business end of Hero with a Thousand Faces is the monomyth, or "Hero's journey". The hero, pulled away from the home he knows, faces adventure and crises that he ultimately conquers, then returns home with wisdom and mastery of both worlds. Campbell fleshes this structure out with various steps and figures along the way: the call to adventure, refusal of the call, supernatural aid, crossing of the first threshold, the belly of the whale, meeting with the goddess, the woman as temptress, apotheosis, the magic flight, and so on. The idea is that this monomyth is the one story that all religions and myths encapsulate, and that singular story speaks deeply on an archetypal level to us as human beings. While he can provide a couple examples from various cultures for each stage of his journey, I would point out that no one myth perfectly matches the complete template. In fact, many of the myths are simply bad storytelling, and that is never allowed as a possibility in this book. Many elements of these ancient tales are absurd and lazy (the dropped comb becomes a mountain... Why? What?), and I think Campbell often misses that we had no Rotten Tomatoes back in the day to weed out the "Delgo"s and "Battlefield Earth"s of the past. Storytelling is a skill that has been refined and improved over the centuries, and there's a reason fairy tales must be "Disneyfied" in retelling: the original stories are unbelievable, uncompelling, and have terrible messages. This is a sign of progress. The monomyth is a useful amalgamation, however, in that it has directly inspired so many of our modern stories that even more closely match the template: Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, The Lion King, Harry Potter, and so on. The Hero's Journey is a fantastic way to organize a structure, and it is truly compelling. Perhaps it has become a bit too pervasive, but that's another discussion and not Joseph Campbell's fault.

Campbell is not confused about the veracity of the stories themselves: he knows there were no giants who were slain and whose various body parts formed the mountains, rivers, and clouds. The point he is making is that the fact we have these stories points to elements of human psychology. I agree with this, and yet take exception to some of the interpretations. There is a long section devoted to the "Cosmogonic cycle" (a phrase you will never encounter so many times as you will in this book), the over-arching story of the birth-and-death of the universe. This is another example of a story that does indeed play out in myth. While there is likely an inborn urge to explain where all things come from and how they will eventually be destroyed and reborn... I can't help but note none of those stories have borne out in actuality.

It's worth reading The Hero with a Thousand Faces, but do so with a healthy dose of perspective handy. Joseph Campbell is a fascinating figure, and I'm sure he would have been a delight to talk to. The audiobook is a good way to go: there are three narrators who take turns, and that helps separate the breaks between commentary and the myths themselves.
Profile Image for Phoenix  Perpetuale.
206 reviews66 followers
April 26, 2023
The Hero of a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell was a difficult read. A lot of comparisons between the ancient Gods.
As a dyslexic person, I found this book quite diverse to finish.
Profile Image for Hesham Khaled.
125 reviews123 followers
May 7, 2016

The Monomyth

ـ" البطل بألف وجْه". . قصةٌ واحدة تُروى بألفِ شكلٍ،
ينطلق كامبل من رؤية فرويد للتعاليم الدينية وأنها حرفت وتنكرت بصورة منهجية عبر الزمن،
ومن ثم فهو يريد أن يوضح الحقائق المخبأة خلف كثير من النماذج الدينية والأمثلة المثيولوجية عبر التاريخ . .
متخذًا أداتين أساسيتين عبر دراسته وهما إتقان فك الرموز وعلم نفس اللاوعي ومن حسن الحظ أني قبل قراءتي للكتاب كنت قرأتُ
علم النفس التحليلي
لكارل يونج، وقد ساعدني كثيرا في فهم الكتاب . .
الخطوة الثانية التي يتبعها كامبل هي جمع القصص الشعبية والأساطير من حضارات العالم وجعل الرموز تتكلم عن نفسها.

ـ عناصر (الأسطورة وحيدة الاتجاه) هي نظرية كامبل التي حاول أن يستخلصها من خلال تلك الدراسة،
دورة حياة تلك الأسطورة والتي تروى بألف شكل ويبقى جوهرها ورموزها الداخلية واحدة،
بدءًا من رحلة مغامرة البطل حيث (النداء)، نداء الحياة أو نداء الموت، نداء من الظلام والمجهول
وصولًا لعتبة المغامرة حيث حراس المدخل يمكن للبطل أن يهزمهم عبر قوى سحرية أو عون خارجي أو أن يمر بسلام أو يمزق
. . ليدخل لما وراء العتبة (عالم القوى الغيبية) ليواجه الأختبارات -كما في جلجامش مثلا-
، يمكن أن تكون المكافأة اتحاد جنسي مع الأم الكونية أو العثور على الأب أو تأليه البطل ذاته.

عناصر الدورة كثيرة استخلصها كامبل بصورة منهجية بديعة يمكن أن تكون القصة تدور حول عنصر أو عنصرين من عناصر الدورة
ولكن في الأخير تظل كلها تجليات لجوهر واحد كما يرى كامبل، كما أنه يستقي من يونج فكرة أن الأحلام ما هي إلا امتداد للأسطورة
أو كما يعبر هو (الأسطورة حلم لاشخصي والحلم أسطورة شخصية) ـ.

الكتاب مقسم لجزئين، الأول هو مغامرة البطل في أربعة فصول (النداء - تلقين الأسرار - العودة - المفاتيح)،ـ
الثاني الدائرة الكونية (الفيض - الولادة من العذراء - تحولات البطل - الانحلال)ـ

يتتبع كامبل مئات من القصص والأساطير محاولًا تأكيد دراسته واستخلااص عناصرها على طول خط الكتاب ليخلص إلى المراحل الـ 17 لرحلة البطل في غالبية النسخ الأساسية من رحلة البطل تكون المراحل 12 ولكنها تزيد في بعض النسخ لتصل لـ 17 مرحلة

الترجمة سيئة جدًا جدًا تشبه ترجمة العم جوجل، أنتوي قراءته ثانية بلغته فقراءة واحدة لا تكفي أبدًا.

ممكن البوست ده أوضح للمراجعة:
Profile Image for Jennifer.
21 reviews
February 10, 2010
While being the first book to explore the interconnections between cultures across the globe through mythology, Campbell's use of Freudian psychology does not do his thesis much credit. He also appears to be taking some of the "myths" that I am familiar with a little out of context so that they fit as proof to some of his points. While the thoughts contained within this book are interesting and provoke a good conversation about the interconnections of all human cultures, the foundation with which Campbell built up his book is questionable.
Profile Image for Bharath.
643 reviews475 followers
June 26, 2018
This is one of those books which is very difficult to read. Campbell offers mythology examples from all over the world to build his framework. It is a book you need to read slowly to digest it, and read you should - the framework for the hero is important!
Profile Image for Mala.
158 reviews184 followers
August 27, 2016

Myths are essential to our lives because they reveal what is culturally important to us and they flourish via story telling—from the oral tradition of yore to the modern bits & gigabytes, one generation passes on its stories to the next & thusly our Collective Unconscious thrives.
Joseph Campbell's stated aim was to "uncover some of the truths disguised for us under the figures of religion and mythology by bringing together a multitude of not-too-difficult examples and letting the ancient meaning become apparent of itself."
He felt that we must learn the grammar of the symbols, and as a key to that mystery considered psychoanalysis the best modern tool to serve as an approach: "The second step will be then to bring together a host of myths and folk tales from every corner of the world, and to let the symbols speak for themselves."

Campbell then presents a multitude of heroic figures through the classic stages of the universal adventure (Monomyth) to reveal "the singleness of the human spirit in its aspirations, powers, vicissitudes, and wisdom."
The Hero of the Monomyth thus assumes thousand faces across religions & cultures, showing universal generic affinities shared by the mythic tradition. It was great reading about Kabbalah, Bhagavad Gita, Buddhism, & Maori poetry often on the same page!
The bibliography here is a sheer pleasure as it'll give you the opportunity to add lots & lots of books & also reveal the vast sweep of Campbell's reading in "mythology, ethnology, folklore, philosophy, psychology, contemporary, medieval, and classical literatures of the West, and religious scriptures of the world."

I read this in preparation for the Barth book Giles Goat-Boy & who understands myths & fables better than the great Barth who cut his teeth on the Classics & then celebrated them with his fixation on stories, stories, & still more stories! But the book is delightful & insightful on its own: studying the myths via a psychoanalytic approach based on Freud, & Jung's writings, the representation of mythic traditions in different religions & cultural practices, a presentation of myths across time & space & their application to our lives. There were some howlers though:
I read the Princeton Press' 2004 commemorative edition, I also have the HarperCollins 2010 edition, ( which I think is the latest printing of this book), & I compared the two editions: the latter doesn't have introduction & bibliography & footnotes are gathered at the end of the book so the Princeton one is a preferable choice but better skip the introduction because it's B-B-B, i.e., bland, boring & full of blah blah blah.
This book is pretty exhaustive on the hero's journey though Campbell often points out in the footnotes that Frazer's The Golden Bough gives far more details on the ritualistic aspect of it.
Instead of summarizing the ideas, I'm choosing to share the ToC as the chapter headings & their subsections convey the contents well enough:

Table of Contents

Where are the myths of our modern age?! Why do we keep going back to Greek, Latin & Sanskrit classics for sustenance?! It's revealing that our heroes are the stars of cinema & reality television! It's said that we deserve the politicians we get; perhaps the same could be said of our heroes?
"Woman, in the picture language of mythology, represents the totality of what can be known. The hero is the one who comes to know. As he progresses in the slow initiation which is life, the form of the goddess undergoes for him a series of transfigurations: she can never be greater than himself, though she can always promise more than he is yet capable of comprehending. She lures, she guides, she bids him burst his fetters. And if he can match her import, the two, the knower and the known, will be released from every limitation. Woman is the guide to the sublime acme of sensuous adventure . By deficient eyes she is reduced to inferior states; by the evil eye of ignorance she is spellbound to banality and ugliness. But she is redeemed by the eyes of understanding.The hero who can take her as she is, without undue commotion but with the kindness and assurance she requires, is potentially the king, the incarnate god, of her created world." (106)
Profile Image for Lyubov.
370 reviews197 followers
June 28, 2019
Бавна, но много смислена книга, даваща синтезирана информация за световните митологии и психологическите архетипи, базирани на тях.

Българското издание е на много високо ниво и е изпипано до последния детайл.
Profile Image for Heidi The Reader.
1,388 reviews1,470 followers
April 1, 2020
"Throughout the inhabited world, in all times and under every circumstance, myths of man have flourished; and they have been the living inspiration of whatever else may have appeared out of the activities of the human body and mind." pg 1

Joseph Campbell presents his, now classic, thesis of comparative mythology and psychology. By examining different myths from all around the world, he outlines the hero's journey. The journey has many different steps and elements to it, but beneath it all, Campbell believes, through all the many stories, the journey is one.

"Furthermore, we have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us; the labyrinth is thoroughly known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path." pg 18

I think in different circumstances I may have enjoyed this book very much. The topic, comparative mythology, is one I find particularly fascinating. I also like to see how humankind incorporates the mythical not just in our stories, but in the way we set up our societies.

"... every failure to cope with a life situation must be laid, in the end, to a restriction of consciousness. Wars and temper tantrums are the makeshifts of ignorance; regrets are illuminations come too late." pg 101

But honestly, I had trouble focusing because of certain current events. Campbell presents the different myths in pieces organized by his heroic stages rather than in one flowing story. Between the trouble focusing and the bouncing around from myth to myth, this was a difficult read for me. Perhaps I'll try this book again in the future, when my life doesn't feel so off-kilter.

I think it has plenty of treasures to be discovered for spiritual seekers of every kind. It also demonstrates that though we look different and live very different lifestyles, at our soul level, there are many similarities to humanity. We find these similarities mirrored through our stories, our life stages, how we live and how we dream.

"Those who know, not only that the Everlasting lives in them but that what they, and all things, really are is the Everlasting, dwell in the groves of the wish-fulfilling trees, drink the brew of immortality, and listen everywhere to the unheard music of eternal concord. These are the immortals." pg 142

I sincerely hope you all live and dream sweetly, immortals, wherever on the hero's journey you may be: sheltering-in-place or braving the world, and that I will live and dream sweetly, too.
Profile Image for Brad McKenna.
1,165 reviews1 follower
March 21, 2022
I was mistaken.

When I first read this book I couldn’t get passed the importance put on dreams. It’s one of the few unreasonable demands I make of books; no dream sequences. Save for The Dream World of The Wheel of Time, where it’s a realm rather than messages from the subconscious, whenever I come upon a dream sequence in a book, I skim it with a mighty groan of frustration. So when I put the book down all those years ago with a self-righteous indignation, it was because I was not ready for it. And it turned out that the bits about dreams weren’t emphasized much after the second chapter or so.

The book shows how the various myths of the ancients connect us. The hero’s journey is repeated again and again throughout history. The changes, the differences, are but societal trappings. They’re not important, they just dress the heroes, both immortal and mortal, in clothes their society will understand. While I found not a few of the myths to be uncomfortable, confusing, occasionally repulsive, or far too obsessed with numbers, that didn’t stop me from seeing the thread being pulled through the tapestry of history.

The entire purpose of the book is to prove what I’ve heard the Dali Lama say; all religions are different versions of the same truth. I’ll end with a pair of long-winded quotes. But one caveat before I do; please excuse the anachronistic patriarchal binary language. If you can forgive him his ignorant word choices, the message undergirding it is beautiful.

“In his life-form the individual is necessarily only a faction and distortion of the total image of man. He is limited either as male or as female; at any given period of his life he again limited as child, youth, mature adult, or ancient; furthermore, in his life-role he is necessarily specialized as a craftsman, tradesman, servant or thief, priest leader, wife, nun or harlot; he cannot be all. Hence the totality - the fullness of man - is not in the separate member, but in the body of the society as a whole; the individual can be only an organ.” (330)

“The community today is the planet, not the bounded nation; hence the patterns of projected aggression which formerly served to co-ordinate the in-group now can only break it into factions. The national idea, with flag as totem, is today an aggrandizer of the nursery ego, not the annihilator of an infantile situation.” (335)

And to end the book, is the Earthrise over the moon. A beautiful picture to show what he was just talking about. That’s our community. Not our family, not our friends, not our country. Everyone on Earth.

My original review:
This book joins Atlas Shrugged as the only books I've ever had to put down.

I love mythology. The myths are not only grand examples of storytelling, but they also shed light on their civilizations' way of thinking. From the doomed-to-die Norse Gods to the plagiarist Romans simply renaming Greek Gods, the mythologies across the globe are fascinating on many levels. So a book that traces the similarities between all mythological cannons sounds like a stroke of genius. Too bad Freud's psychoanalytical theories proved to be the thread that wove the tapestry of the story together.

The first chapter begins by presenting dreams as the ultimate source of truth. Ok, fine, I can deal the fact that there's far more going on in dreams than I care to admit. I've never liked dreams, I groan when a character has a dream in a book I'm reading. I shake my head when a movie includes a psychedelic dream sequence. I'm sure the fact that I hardly ever remember my dreams plays a role in my animosity. But that's not the point. The point is, I picked up a book on mythologies and found it was about dreams. So now I've put it down.
Profile Image for Ned Rifle.
36 reviews33 followers
January 14, 2013
Joseph Campbell has done a lot of good work in this book and others. Unfortunately the good of the work was research. His theories themselves (not so much the pattern-spotting as his rather shallow interpretation of the material, which is basically glorified self-help) are very easy to ignore. Read him to steal his stories and then regale your friends with them, much embellished, if need be; the beauty of these stories is that they speak directly. Also get as many of the books he references as you can, or if you are precious with your time, just make notes of them. I have yet to track down enough of these.

Here is one African creation myth (which may be from The Power of Myth):

Originally everyone dwelt within the earth and knew no other way until, one day, a rope dropped down. Everyone gaily clambered up it. The last to do so was an incredibly fat person. As this mass began to climb the rope snapped, and so people were forever cut off from the earth.

One day a Rakshasa approached Shiva and demanded his wife, Parvati. Shiva politely informed the lout that Parvati was his wife and that he was,obviously, Shiva. The Rakshasa did not seem much affected by this news and simply demanded anew. Shiva now lost patience and created a monstrous creature, designed to eat the intruder. At the sight of this fearsome beast the Rakshasa fell to his knees and begged for mercy, which Shiva duly, and graciously, granted. The Rakshasa fled. Now, though, the newly-made beast spoke-up, complaining, understandably that it was ravenous since, after all, it had been created hungry in order to better facilitate its inevitable task. On hearing this reasonable complaint Shiva instructed the creature to eat itself, which it duly did.

I may, in time, add more that I have told from time, to time.
Profile Image for Mahdi Lotfi.
447 reviews105 followers
January 10, 2018
یکی از مهم ترین آثاری که در مورد اساطیر و اسطوره شناسی نوشته شده است.
بدون شک یکی از تاثیرگذارترین کتاب ها بر روی صنعت سینما و هالیوود کتاب قهرمان هزار چهره نوشته جوزف کمپل است.این کتاب به معرفی و دسته بندی قصه ها و اسطوره های ملل می پردازد و از بین آنها به دنبال یافتن فرمولی برای روایت داستان می گردد.فرمولی که از ابتدا در میان قبایل بدوی شکل گرفته و همچنان در دنیای امروز قدرت خود را برای روایت داستانهای شورانگیز حفظ کرده است.
قهرمان هزارچهره مشهورترین و بهترین اثر جوزف کمپل، نویسنده و اسطوره‌شناس مشهور آمریکایی است که سیر و سفر درونی انسان را در قالب قهرمانان اسطوره‌ای پی می‌گیرد و با بررسی قصه‌ها و افسانه‌های جهان نشان می‌دهد که چطور این کهن الگو در هر زمان و مکان خود را در قالبی جدید تکرار می‌کند تا انسان را به سیر و سفر درونی و شناخت نفس راهنمایی کند.
کمپل در این کتاب بسیاری از نمادهای مذهبی و اسطوره‌ای جهان را بررسی کرده و با در کنار هم قرار دادن آنها نشان داده است که چطور افسانه‌ها و نمادهای اقوام و مذاهب مختلف، معادل و موازی یکدیگرند. او در میان این شباهت‌ها به دنبال حقایقی بنیادین می‌گردد که انسان در طول هزاران سال زندگی بر روی کره‌ خاکی براساس آن‌ها روزگار خود را گذرانده است. در حقیقت این کتاب جزو کتاب های کلاسیک و رسمی رشته های ادبیات، اسطوره شناسی و فیلمنامه نویسی است و کارگردانان مشهور هالیوود تحت تاثیر آن با بازسازی اسطوره های کهن در قالب نو پرداخته اند. جنگ ستارگان، ارباب حلقه ها، ماتریکس و... از این کتاب الهام گرفته اند.
یکی از کسانی که بسیار تحت تاثیر این کتاب قرار گرفته جرج لوکاس فیلمساز مشهور آمریکایی است .او فیلمنامه جنگ های ستاره ای را بر اساس ساختار روایت اسطوره ای سفر قهرمان که در این کتاب توضیح داده می شود بنا کرده است.
Profile Image for Gorkem.
144 reviews97 followers
February 3, 2020
Terra Nostra'ya bu kitabı eş zamanlı olarak okumam konusunda beni zorladığı için sadece teşekkür ediyorum . Hepsi bu..Müthiş bir okumaydı.
Profile Image for Katie.
73 reviews35 followers
April 21, 2008
Wow. This book blows my mind every time I pick it up. It has taken me years to heed the advice of friends and family and read the thing (don’t wait as long as I did), but I’ve finished with a renewed sense of what it means to be an artist/writer/human and a perceived momentum I’ve found nowhere else. There is energy, wisdom and strength in the connections Campbell draws.

I’ve also placed myself firmly in the Campbell camp of dissecting story structure (suck it Robert Mckee, or better yet eat all the unread pages of your highfalutin book that no one I’ve spoken to has bothered to finish!). Campbell’s book is useful to those who want to tell engaging stories, those who want to make more conscious life decisions, and even those who just want to see better the similarities in tales we’ve propagated over the ages.

I’m going to read it again very soon. Let the boon-bringing commence!
Profile Image for Brian Griffith.
Author 6 books239 followers
July 25, 2022
This is Campbell's first big book, with an initial big idea. He was trying to name the one great mega-myth at the core of all religions and mythologies, and I think he got carried away trying to explain everything with one insight.

Later, in his great 4-volume "Masks of God" series he explored the vast diversity of myths across the world, showing different paths to different goals, and the value that diverse traditions have in their own terms. Somehow that was never as popular as is initial focus on "the hero."

In hindsight, a lot of observers have noted that in "Hero with a Thousand Faces," Campbell focused on the most individualistic, most ego-centered, most masculine, most typically American theme for interpreting world religion. I think it's only in his later work that he achieved really great contributions to understanding the whole of humanity.
Profile Image for Nicholas Whyte.
4,734 reviews182 followers
January 5, 2012

I have to say that I was rather disappointed by this classic work on mythology. On the plus side, it is indeed fascinating to put myths from very different points in time and space beside each other to note the similarities; Campbell is consistent and clinical in subjecting the Bible to the same scrutiny as any other culture; and for myself, I learned a thing or two about Cuchulain, not just a local hero and contributor to Ulster geography but in fact an exemplar of several different widely found characters in folklore.

But I found the structure rather confusing, both at macro and at micro level. I couldn't quite be sure what Campbell's basic thesis is, whether he thinks that there is a single archetypal hero myth in which all hero stories (maybe even all stories) are rooted (which is what he seems to say in the introduction) or whether he thinks it's impossible to be so concrete (which is what he seems to say in the epilogue). While each individual chapter and section is supposed to illustrate a certain element of the "monomyth", in fact the examples given often have little bearing on the point that is being made; Campbell tells us what he is going to say, then actually says something a bit different, and then fails to tell us what he has said. (The chapter on Transformations of the Hero, where Cuchulain comes up, seemed rather better structured than the rest.) Of course, it is the nature of folklore to be rambling and discursive, but one can analyse a thing without taking on too many of that thing's characteristics.

Anyway, I can see why this was an influential book of its time, but I felt that the approach was old-fashioned even for 1948, and hope that there are better introductions to world folklore out there.
Profile Image for Rinda Elwakil .
501 reviews4,558 followers
Want to read
October 27, 2019
يصدر قريبًا عن منشورات تكوين، ترجمة جديدة جميلة لكتاب مؤسس شديد الأهمية يقدمها محمد جمال.
Profile Image for saïd.
6,316 reviews972 followers
March 1, 2023
I am not a fan of Joseph Campbell, to put it mildly.

The concept of a monomyth or ‘hero’s journey’ is horrifyingly reductive of folkloric and mythologic narrative structure. The emphasis throughout the majority of these stories is not on the journey or the characters but rather on a moral point being made (Aesop’s fables, Perrault’s collection, the Grimms’ tales, etc.; these tend to impart a moral lesson or caution, i.e., Grandmother Tiger and variations thereof, where the details of the story itself may change while the moral at the end remains intact). The concept of a ‘hero’s journey’ is restrictive to a certain subset of specific cultural mythology, and certainly not universal.

The majority of myths that display that simplified descriptive narrative pattern can also be analysed from different perspectives (i.e., viewing Grandmother Tiger from the perspective of the tiger alters the moral while keeping the narrative structure the same) for different results, functions, and purposes. By reducing mythology to the concept of a single ‘universal’ pattern, Campbell reduces mythology to Campbel’'s idea of what mythology is. Similarly, the monomyth oversimplifies the concept of a ‘hero’ and a ‘journey,’ flattening nuance and narrative distinction. When cherry-picking with implicit bias already in mind, patterns can easily be manufactured; this is what Campbell does in his ‘observation,’ using descriptive terminology (i.e., stories have a beginning-middle-end format, but not all stories are defined by that format, nor even have to conform to it) to retrofit the construction of mythology.

Others have criticised the monomyth’s relegation of most people to either helpers or objects along the hero’s ‘path’; with such a focus on a typologied idea of Western masculinity, the monomyth leaves little room for ‘heroes’ of other cultures, genders, backgrounds, or mentalities. The concept of the monomyth is heteronormative, patriarchal, ableist, restrictive, and ultimately emblematic of an inherent hierarchal caste system that places the ‘hero’ at the apex and the ‘rest’ beneath. A monomyth does not leave room for the natural progression of human life as exemplified in the folklore Campbell somehow managed to overlook: the processes of ageing, producing and raising children, having families, and focusing on objectives separate from glory or renown or heroism. Kindness is not rewarded in the monomyth. The monomyth has no room for friendship, affection, community, or even happiness. The monomyth produces heroes which suffer and cause suffering in turn.

The monomyth traps entire communities within its rigid structure: based on your societal position and the body you inhabit, you will be relegated to a certain position; race, gender, sexuality, ability, relation to the ‘hero.’ The monomyth traps everything. The obsessive focus on Randian individualism is not representative of actual folklore (apart from perhaps the nationalist wet dream of idealised masculinity), which often rewards community, communication, ingenuity, and the importance of teamwork. Remember, a culture’s mythology often serves as its lessons for children, its moral precepts, and its foundations of social mores; the glorious path of being a lone wolf who cares for no one and dies alone at the age of 27 is hardly conducive to building a lasting community.

To be clear, the monomyth’s function is not exclusively to reinforce cultural hegemonies of patriarchy, nationalism, white supremacy, etc., but it certainly acts as an incredibly successful recruitment strategy and general tool. Mythology is not, by definition, inherently inclusive; it was always designed to preach narrowly culture-specific schema. Wedging diversity into a monomyth does not change that, it simply preaches a different schema in the same format.

Robert A. Segal wrote an excellent response delineating some of the flaws inherent in the monomythic concept, as well as an article discussing Campbell’s antisemitism, both of which are worth reading. Campbell is not without his merit, although none of his ideas were per se new; however, the popular response to his work is so distressingly limited and formulaic that it diminishes the potential cultural influence that folklore can have. While Campbell’s theories have their place in describing certain subsets of mythology, we would do well to retire the concept of a ‘monomyth��� at large in favour of embracing mythology in all its polyvariant forms.
Profile Image for A..
350 reviews48 followers
November 21, 2022
"La" historia es infinita, universal, divina. Porque resulta que la historia es la misma y, sin embargo, se manifiesta de formas cambiantes e inagotables. Vemos la misma historia en las pinturas, en la música y las danzas, la descubrimos asombrados en la ciencia y la tecnología, arraigada en la literatura y en la religión. La descubrimos en los cuentos que escuchábamos, tensos y expectantes, de boca de nuestros padres y abuelos, en los libros que están aquí reseñados, en tratados de grandes eruditos, en la peli que vimos la semana pasada. La historia tal vez esté escrita en nuestros genes y sea una impronta en nuestra especie.
Campbell nos describe el monomito, el arquetípico "viaje del héroe", la búsqueda, los símbolos y los ritos de una forma explícita y detallada. Nos encontraremos con muchos conceptos del psicoanálisis (reitero, muchos, de hecho la primera parte es una aproximación desde el psicoanálisis al viaje del héroe) y un prolongado paseo por la mitología universal. El autor enumera una incontable cantidad de mitos, cuentos y leyendas para apoyar su punto de vista. Esto puede ser algo denso. Si lo que se busca es comprender la idea del "viaje del héroe" ("La aventura del héroe" o "El periplo del héroe") hay miles de sitios Internet donde es explicado más conceptualmente.
Recomendable para lectores interesados en la escritura, la antropología y la psicología y que no teman embarcarse en el viaje, casi heroico, de la lectura de este libro.
Profile Image for Emiliya Bozhilova.
1,365 reviews226 followers
January 2, 2023
Ако перифразираме Клаузевиц, митологията е продължение на психологията с други средства. Както и обратното.

Дълъг път е извървяло човечеството, но все още почти магическа сила имат думите Имало едно време.... И времето спира своя ход за поредната вълшебна история, разказана от майка в нощта, от шаман в навечерието на настъпващата зима, от древни индуистки писания, от “Одисеята”, от легендите за Крал Артур или от Библията...

Кембъл ни показва как всички тези истории, разделени през епохи, океани и морални норми, до една си приличат и героите им са всъщност един Герой, който:
1. Усеща Зов за отпътуване и мисия - и доброволно или пък по принуда, потегля към своето приключение, напускайки границите на всичко познато и близко, комфорта на общността.
2. Впуска се в Битки и Изпитания, където трябва да изстрада всяка капка Мъдрост и Победа. Побеждава дракони и богове, влиза в корема на кита, спасява принцеси, постига безсмъртие и мъдрост, открадва огъня на боговете. Умира, за да възкръсне с новото познание, защото да умре старото е предпоставка да се роди новото.
3. Завръща се, за да сподели трудно извоюваното си Съкровище с другите - как да се спасим от страданието, златото от пещерата на дракона, спасените от Минотавъра младежи и девойки, знанието как да запалим откраднатия от боговете огън...

Изминавайки целия неравен път, героят се спуска в неизмеримите дълбини на човешката душа, до най-скритите и несъзнавани копнежи и страхове, за да ги извади победоносно на бял свят и да ги свърже в една хармонична цялост с осъзнатите норми и усещания, за да ги лиши завинаги от потайната им разрушителна сила.

Всички митологии си приличат. Всички са извор на познание. И всички са капан. Защото всяка една митология е и съзнателно и целенасочено използван инструмент за влияние и манипулация. Този инструмент налага власт и дословно, буквално и сляпо следване на утвърдените символи в стеснена трактовка, често лишавайки ги от дълбокия им спасителен смисъл. Всяко изключение и отклонение води до клада, убийство с камъни, прогонване от общността, човешко жертвоприношение за умилостивяване на боговете, отхвърляне на всичко чуждо и ново. Този инструмент е изключително ефикасно използван през цялата ни история. Героите на старите митове са се превръщали в тирани, а новите герои, изправяли се срещу тях, не винаги са имали щастлива съдба.

Кембъл изпитва носталгия по богатия свят на символите, които - правилно разбрани - правят човека цялостен и възвисяват духа. Опитва се да бъде обективен, и да посочи, че приложени сляпо, водят до мракобесие и ужас. Но магията им го държи твърде здраво. На моменти повествованието се изгубва в пълна какофония от разнопосочни и накъсани гласове, става неясно, истерично и отвлечено. В други моменти грабва с точните си прозрения. Но моето впечатление е, че Кембъл не съумява напълно да преплува морето от символи и често сам се залутва из него. Картографира прецизно и ясно бреговете и част от дълбочините му, но голяма част от географията му остава с пунктир и подлежаща на уточняване. Твърде много Фройд се лее из страниците, което е право в десятката в някои случаи, но ограничава или значително изкривява кръгозора в други. Твърде много идеализъм и моментна пристрастност вкарва Кембъл, съчетани с избора на любимото едностранчиво тълкуване и пренебрегването на други (социални, антропологически, исторически, философски) аспекти.

Книгата е прегледно структурирана и дава интересен поглед към всеки един от нас, защото героят е всеки един човек. Преводът е прекрасен, оформлението - на ниво, а текстът изобилства от истории и интерпретации, които ще хвърлят във възторг всеки любител на старите и новите приказки.

3,5 ⭐️
Profile Image for Neli Krasimirova.
184 reviews84 followers
September 1, 2020
Sonsuz kahramanlarla sonsuz bir yolculuğa çıktım.
Vizyon açan bu teorik çalışmayı bitirirken sanırım "Bir kitap okudum ve hayatım değişti." diyebilmeye artık hazırım.
Yıllar önce (daha CNBC-e kapanmamış) TV karşısında How I Met Your Mother izliyorum ve Ted kız arkadaşlarından birine (galiba ismi Stella'ydı) Star Wars sevdirmeye çalışırken yapımında bir profesörün bir kitabından yararlandıklarını anlatıyor ismini söyleyerek, not alamadan unutuyorum. Sonrasında bu bilgiyi araştırmayı unutacak kadar unutuyorum.
Bundan yıllar sonra Deniz Hocam yapısalcı sinema hakkında konuşurken aynı konuyu açıyor, kitap "Kahramanın Sonsuz Yolculuğu"
İtiraf etmeliyim ki okumaya başlarken böylesi bir metinle karşılaşacağımı hiç anlamamıştım; kitabın mitolojiye böylesine teknik yaklaşması, dipnotların arkada toplanması -ki bu çift ayraç durumundan nefret ederim-, kendi doğasında kurgu metinleri konu alıp inanılmaz bir ciddiyetle ders olarak anlatması üst üste karşılaştırmalı mit okuyacağımı zannederken beni çok yormuş olsa da Campbell'ın monomit terimini nereden getirdiğini kavramak Deniz Hocanın Hollywood'un nasıl beslendiğini anlamak kısmında aşağı yukarı neden bahsettiğini kavramamı sağladı.
Bir kitap okudum hayatım değişti diyorum çünkü sayısalcı beynim evrenin homojen olduğundan eminken homo sapiensin kahramanlarının yolunun homojen olduğunu hiç düşünmemişti. Meğer tüm kahramanların evreleri her coğrafyada ve her yüzyılda aynıymış; sadece yüzleri(isimleri) değişmiş ve Campbell bunu büyük resim haline çok güzel getirmiş.
Profile Image for Moses Kilolo.
Author 5 books95 followers
December 6, 2011
Every one who believes in destiny, in dreams, and in the universality of human experience and their particular stories should, at least once in their lifetime, read this book.
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