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The Power of Myth

(Joseph Campbell and Power of Myth)

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  40,188 ratings  ·  1,627 reviews
The Power Of Myth launched an extraordinary resurgence of interest in Joseph Campbell and his work. A preeminent scholar, writer, and teacher, he has had a profound influence on millions of people. To him, mythology was the "song of the universe, the music of the spheres." With Bill Moyers, one of America's most prominent journalists, as his thoughtful and engaging ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 1st 1988 by Anchor
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Marc Wachtfogel Campbell may have said that humans seek meaning, but this is not the point he was getting at. He was answering a question that he was asked quite…moreCampbell may have said that humans seek meaning, but this is not the point he was getting at. He was answering a question that he was asked quite often...what is the meaning of life? His answer is that we create our own meaning in the world. For each person it's different...thus the heroes path.(less)
Barbara Yes, it’s a transcript of an interview with a Bill Moyers.…moreYes, it’s a transcript of an interview with a Bill Moyers. (less)

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Kelly
Jun 25, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone- though you have to be a bit idealistic
I really do think that this should be required reading in high school, everywhere. Or beyond. Just in general. I read it in preperation for my AP year, and it really helps you to open your eyes quite a bit. Does Joe Campbell like to stretch his points? Yes. Are some of his ideas and allusions a little far fetched? Absolutely. Will you roll your eyes a few times? Of course! Unless you are more starry eyed than even I was.

However. What he says on the subject of myth and our current culture is so
...more
Jason Koivu
The Power of Myth explores so much more than myth. It delves into the essence of life itself.

Joseph Campbell was mythologist, professor, writer, lecturer, historian...he was so much. His wealth of knowledge on faith, philosophy and humanity was astounding. He has left us, but he has left behind a body of work, a legacy of compassion and understanding for us and future generations. Thanks to this interview, conducted by journalist Bill Moyers, we have an encapsulated version of his teachings from
...more
Roy Lotz
Oct 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I have bought this wonderful machine—a computer. Now I am rather an authority on gods, so I identified the machine—it seems to me to be an Old Testament god with a lot of rules and no mercy.

Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces is a book that, for better or worse, will forever change how you see the world. Once you read his analysis of the monomyth, the basic outline of mythological stories, you find it everywhere. It’s maddening sometimes. Now I can’t watch certain movies without
...more
Bharath
Oct 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you were to read only one book in your lifetime, what book would you want that to be? Well, that is certainly an unfair question since it is difficult to make that choice. However, if I was given the option of choosing only 20 books to read in my lifetime, “The Power of Myth” by Joseph Campbell would certainly be on that list.

This book is about popular myths from different cultures leading up to present day beliefs and practices. It is much more than that as well – it is about life, purpose
...more
Nishat
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In my daily life, I talk about suffering a lot. I have had trouble accepting the fact that terrible things happen to people everyday, that the voiceless, the weak have to undergo great cruelty everywhere.

Campbell says, for our sake we have to affirm the brutality, the thoughtlessness of our surroundings too. By doing so, we affirm our world and the experience of eternity here.

I once mentioned to an older friend, if our world were to be a circle and we the dots to complete it, then our existence
...more
Colie!
Jul 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone remotely human
Joseph Campbell is seriously incredible. Read this, listen to the PBS audio tapes, read anything he writes... he's just brilliant, erudite, illuminating, fascinating, lovable, enlightening... he reveals things articulately that you always sensed in the shadowy regions of your instinct, and having them so clearly identified has a revelatory and refreshing effect. It makes you pensive and hopeful. It makes you feel good about being human, part of this thing we do called life. I don't know, I think ...more
James Williams
This is my first first-person experience with Campbell. And I find it an incredibly frustrating book.

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

Similarly, the
...more
Safat
Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There is something very fishy about our existence. We are unaware of it most of the time, but it tickles us all from time to time.

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

These things trouble me. Since when do I exist? How come I wasn’t here, then I suddenly came out of nowhere? How’s it possible that something as concrete as ‘I’ actually came out of nowhere? And exactly at what time did I come into being? At my
...more
Morgannah
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Power of Myth is based on a series of interviews Bill Moyers conducted with Joseph Campbell in the mid 1980's.
"Myths are clues to the spiritual potentialities of the human life," explains Joseph Campbell near the very beginning of the narrative. His definition of myth, rather than being that myths are examples of the search for life's meaning, is that myths are the ongoing search for "the experience of life". According to Campbell, what myths tell us is that the meaning of life is the
...more
Malynda Alice
Dec 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I don't know how he does it, but every time I read/hear/stumble upon some vague quotation of Joseph Campbell's work, my day gets better. The sensation I get when reading his work is of relief, that all the seemingly static and infallible truths of the world stem from very simple needs. Somehow knowing that frees me to pursue the quenching of the needs, rather than the physical trappings we have set up around that need. It is very interesting.
This book is a sort of revised and embellished
...more
Lauren
Re-read this one after several years, and it was even more powerful this time. I think the time and the age between helped in my understanding and comprehension. Very accessible text, and I am sure I will revisit this one again someday - maybe I can finally watch the PBS special too.
brian tanabe
Jul 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
I started reading the hardcover version of this and immediately realized it is a companion to a PBS series between Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell. So I decided to switch to the audio version – highly, highly recommended over the book.

I found myself connecting with a lot of the passages, but one passage in particular definitely stands out, tackling the meaning of life. While I have a great amount of respect for Moyers, I was slightly annoyed at times with his attempts to assert his equanimity to
...more
Stephen
Nov 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
My 100th book for goodreads should be a memorable one.

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

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

A few pages into their dialog, I
...more
Katerina
May 05, 2009 rated it it was ok
Apparently everyone loves this book, which shocks me. I found a lot of his references very interesting but I really despised a lot of the author's commentary on them (as well as the hundreds of times the author contradicts himself). Yes, he did come up with some pretty deep conclusions, but at other times I found his ideas to be so infuriatingly ridiculous that I, in fact, threw the book at the car window at one point when I read a particularly infuriating nugget of absurdity (I believe it was ...more
Graeme Rodaughan
Jul 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"One thing that comes out in myths is that at the bottom of the abyss comes the voice of salvation. The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come. At the darkest moment comes the light."
The Power of Myth is a beautifully illustrated collection of interviews of Joseph Campbell by Bill Moyers.

This is a very accessible and enjoyable book that presents a concise summary of the core ideas distilled from a lifetime of scholarly effort in the worldwide
...more
Parvathy
Oct 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Philosophy & Comapritive Mythology lovers
Recommended to Parvathy by: goodreads
Myths are often stories that explain how the world and human kind came to be in their present form. I have always been inexplicable drawn to these stories and often felt that they have a quality beyond what they seem to be. The undeniable pull of myths have in the human psyche and the society that surrounds them are often met with scrutiny and criticism. When you say that you are interested in mythology the question naturally comes as to why this particular subject is of interest? What role does ...more
Sean
Jan 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
"The Power of Myth" by Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers is one of the most amazing books you will ever read or experience. Campbell, the late professor of Comparative Mythology at Sarah Lawrence University, wrote on ideas touching upon every facet of life and his ideas have inspired all types of artistic and creative expression. It would be impossible to write about every idea that Campbell discusses in this book but it suffices to say that his work touches upon many profound aspects of what it ...more
Heidi The Reader
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Though a bit rambling at times, The Power of Myth is a great introductory text on archetypes found within all world mythologies from almost every time period. Campbell explains why the underlying stories are the same from all over the world and what they mean in both cultural, personal, and world contexts.

He breaks down some of the major archetypes like the sacrificed god and resurrection, virgin births, goddesses, trees, snakes, and more. As someone who has studied tarot and The Tree of Life
...more
Arun Divakar
Apr 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
In my part of the world, the gods live everywhere. Every automobile you get into has an image of an elephant headed god or a crucified christ & if the owner is a very fervent believer you will have incense burning inside the vehicle. Such beliefs according to them keeps mishaps at bay. Calendars & walls are adorned with such images and even movies begin with chants evoking the celestial ones.Growing up in such a society my mind kept wavering between comfort & confusion on what it all ...more
Paula Cappa
Aug 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is full of wisdom. I read it slowly, kept it on my night table and read a page or two a night. Of course, Joseph Campbell is brilliant. I ended up underlining because so much is profound and so much goes deep into not only the world we live in but the personal soul. He talks a lot about going inward and finding your own harmony. The Great Silence! The silence beyond sound. Myth and storytellers, the hero's adventures, gift of the goddess, and the female principle all lead up to, not so ...more
Lanko
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, favorites, rc2017n-e
Fantastic.

It's an interview with various themes of human life centering around mythology. It's not about stories, books, movies... just the myths, how and why they appeared, how and why they shaped and still shape lives and society, how they adapt (or we adapt them) and so on.

He also tackles on issues that even almost 30 years after the book's publishing are still rampant, or even more rampant than before, like violence, issues in love, maturing too late, fanaticism and so on and I think he
...more
Gine
May 12, 2012 rated it did not like it
Jesus Christ does old Professor Joe Campbell knead and massage his precious little thesis until it is a pile of steaming crap sitting in front of me. How many different ways can you boil a potato. Yes, OK, myth, storytelling, wow amazing. NEXT.
tJacksonrichards
May 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Just as 'Public Communicators' like Cousteau, Sagan and deGrasse Tyson have translated sprawling, complex phenomena of the natural sciences into digestible, imperative docutainment, so did Joseph Campbell—with socratic cheerleading from interviewer Bill Moyers—distill leading mythological scholarship of the humanities and social sciences, including his own substantial work, into a kind of cultural and ecological advocacy intended for a late 1980s american television audience.

CAMPBELL: I think of
...more
Jafar
Oct 09, 2010 rated it liked it
It can be joy to read this book which is entirely a conversation between the mythologist Joseph Campbell and the PBS journalist Bill Moyers – both being uber-erudite. Whether the joy turns into boredom and annoyance or continues to the end depends on your mindset. For Campbell myths are what we humans conceive to make sense of the world and our lives and our relation with the world. All stories and rites and traditions should be looked at in this perspective. Myth are not things of the ...more
Erika Schoeps
Aug 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I actually never thought I'd be writing a review and typing out the sentence, "this book changed my life." But I can't really get around it. It feels dramatic and sweeping and ridiculous, but this book really changed my life. It was also a matter of good timing, and I was also given some thoughts from watching "The Wind Rises" at the same time as I was reading.

Joseph Campbell speaks about his knowledge as if it is unequivocal, unarguable truth. I was charmed and yet annoyed. I was firmly rooted
...more
John Morgan
Jan 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
If you want to get to know Campbell's ideas, there are better works - especially "Hero with a Thousand Faces" and the four-volume "Masks of God" - to read, but this series of interviews, which one can also watch on video, remains a good introduction to his worldview and approach, and had a big impact on me when I first encountered it in my 20s. The psychological approach to myth can hardly be called "traditional" in the Guenonian/Evolian sense but it remains a useful one nonetheless, since it ...more
Jorge Campos
Jun 01, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: varios
Professor Campell leaves the reader wanting a more profound insight regarding the human person's social, anthropological, and religious need for myth; instead we are left with, well, to use one of his anecdotes: "We don't have a Philosophy, or a Theology... we dance."

And dance he does.

Campbell jumps from one myth to another; dwelling in the fact of its existence and never going beyond to study its meaning, relevance, depth, or "power," making his bias towards Buddhism unblushingly obvious and
...more
Ramona P.
Jun 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book changed my life. Joseph Campbell opened the world of Mythology to me and introduced a new way for me to relate to my life journey. His insights and ideas about the power of myth help us understand how important it is to be aware of the traditions inherent in our cultures and how they play out personally and collectively.

I am able to look for the "soul-story" resonating in diverse cultures and know that I am looking at the myth that is informing their values, ideas, ideals, religion,
...more
Bill Bowyer
Dec 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A great tool for any writer or aspiring novelist in the fundamental knowledge of myth and its interaction with religion and history. Joseph Campbell proves here that he is the master of mythology, and his wisdom oozes from the pages like honey. As a writer, the gift of such wisdom far exceeds most other resources that you have at your disposal.

Perhaps the most important teaching from Campbell is his insisting that constant reading is the prime path for one to acquire great amounts of knowledge.
...more
Biafra
Jul 31, 2014 rated it it was ok
summary

George Orwell, in Politics and the English Language, notes the following: 'Each of these passages has faults of its own, but, quite apart from avoidable ugliness, two qualities are common to all of them. The first is staleness of imagery; the other is lack of precision. The writer either has a meaning and cannot express it, or he inadvertently says something else, or he is almost indifferent as to whether his words mean anything or not […] The great enemy of clear language is insincerity.
...more
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3,363 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 ...more

Other books in the series

Joseph Campbell and Power of Myth (6 books)
  • The Hero's Adventure: Power of Myth 1
  • The Message of the Myth: Power of Myth 2
  • The First Storytellers: Power of Myth 3
  • Sacrifice and Bliss: Power of Myth 4
  • Love and the Goddess: Power of Myth 5
  • Masks of Eternity: Power of Myth 6
“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” 881 likes
“Sit in a room and read--and read and read. And read the right books by the right people. Your mind is brought onto that level, and you have a nice, mild, slow-burning rapture all the time.” 658 likes
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