The Hero with a Thousand Faces The Hero with a Thousand Faces discussion


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mythology

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Lisa I'm not sure when this thread was started (I'm new to goodreads), but I think Joseph Campbell is brilliant. It's been a while since I read this, but the concept of the underlying thread of the Hero's Journey which weaves through the stories, including the myths of people stretching as far as the eye (or mind!) can see backwards and sideways - going back thousands of years when stories were first known to be written down (the Tale of Gilgemesh) across contemporary cultures, even through Harry Potter, to me is fascinating and incredibly compelling. I think when we pick up and identify these threads, it's like a wise map which we can use to help live our lives and solve our problems. Which I think is Campbell's point! The universality of this can so help you get perspective on your life - and paradoxically these journeys (as we identify with them) can be incredibly personal at the same time. All to say,love it!


message 2: by Michele (last edited Jan 07, 2012 03:15PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Michele Kallio Couldn't agree more. Campbell was a genius, one of the greatest storytellers of all time. And it was his advice to "follow your bliss" that helped me stay the course in writing and publishing my book. I will be forever grateful for him.


message 3: by Lisa (last edited Jan 07, 2012 01:25PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa Me too Michele! Well, not writing and publishing but something else (though I do think of writing 'one of these days' :-) ). What I love about him too was what a (his word) maverick he was. He got a lot of pressure to get a PhD, was told he'd never succeed in academics, never succeed as a scholar otherwise, but did it his way. He has a great set of tapes, BTW. Not just the Power of Myth which as you probably know are a series of interviews with Bill Moyers (love this. it's even better than the book), but a series of lectures he gave at Cooper Union in NYC over several years. They're not quite as colorful as POM - so special audio effects for instance, and sound not always great, but his amazing self comes through.


Michele Kallio Yes, I have both his tape series. He lives on and hopefully will continue to teach future generations as he taught us.


Lisa here here!


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

For those who loved Hero With A Thousand Faces but want less Jungian analysis, Campbell's four volume Masks of God is a masterpiece. It's almost perfect and exhaustively detailed!


Lisa Great! Will check it out.


Michele Kallio Wonderful absolutely wonderful! Masks of God is indeed a masterpiece.


Eric Rupert I'm so unhappy about not reading this book twenty years ago (even though I only recently discovered it), but I'm relieved to have read it now, nevertheless. As evidence for the right to be non-theistic, it's an invaluable treatise. As a triptik to literary archetypes, it should be required reading for all college students. And as a device to dispel the hegemonic dogmas of our world, it is a weapon to be wielded.


Michele Kallio ALL of Campbell's books are great reads. He was an amazing storyteller. He explains so much of the common threads of religion while encouraging the reader/viewer to see throught the mist. Check out his video series MYTHOS: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_...-

THE POWER OF MYTH series:
keywords=joseph+campbell+mythos+the+complete+series&sprefix=joseph+campbell%2Cmovies-tv%2C283
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_... and

If you want to learn more of Campbell's life there is
THE HERO'S JOURNEY:
http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Campbell...

Enjoy!


message 11: by Feliks (last edited May 28, 2013 09:15AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Feliks Actually he hasn't got as formidable an academic reputation as one might assume from the sales of his books. From the posts above I'm lead to assume you've never seen any criticism of Campbell's fast'n'loose interpretations of anthropology. Well, they're out there. He's like the Malcolm Gladstone of his field; somewhat better than Sir James George Frazier but not dramatically so. He never sources or cites as thoroughly as someone of his standing ought to. His overall premise is fully his own; an easy-to-follow, made-for-popular-audiences re-packaging of a complex, sprawling topic. His books are admirable in that they make an obscure branch of study understandable to laymen--but that doesn't mean its authoritative or grounded. You'll come across plenty of instances in his work where he takes flights-of-fancy (nearly rhapsodic) and supplies his own notion of what the content of a myth 'implies' or 'leads to'; but its all done at many removes from the actual data. What he did was simply assimilate a slew of assumptions and present them for us in a way that makes cogent and cohesive reading. If you set all academic concerns aside and just take him for 'the gist' or 'the essence' of what he wants to convey; he's very satisfying with his new-age message. I value him highly myself because I'm always keen on the topic of myth; and I'm glad he made such a successful career and has such a positive impact on people's awareness. But, let's not lose our heads.


Michele Kallio Everyone has critics. And I don't believe anyone is about to lose their heads talking about Campbell. Your comments are well made Feliks, especially if one is embarking on a a study of anthropology. What I like about Campbell is he makes me think, question what I have learned through the years and to look further and deeper when my interest is piqued.


message 13: by Eric (last edited May 30, 2013 07:00PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Eric Rupert Michelle, I agree with you that Campbell is useful for anthropology students AND for literature students: his development in HERO of an outline of archetypes and tropes is invaluable. Feliks, I disagree that Campbell's citations are somehow inferior to "experts" in the field (although I'm not exactly sure which field); his endnotes and bibliography of primary and secondary sources for HERO run to 40 pages! The assumption that there is/should be data for thoughtful arguments is misapplied in Campbell's case. Campbell argues vehemently that there is no science of comparative mythology--which is, if I may offer the field, his area of expertise--just as there is no science of medieval literature.


Michele Kallio here, here


message 15: by Lynn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lynn Galloway I was introduced to the works of Joseph Campbell by a college professor. Over the years I've had discussions about his writings with friends that range from working in fast food, to musicians, to stay at home mom's, to public relation execs...his writing certainly pulls you in and makes you think. I agree he has critics, all writers, philosophers, etc...do; however he also has some very powerful advocates for example George Lucas has publicly referred to Joseph Campbell and specifically to "Hero," as one of the fundamental resources he drew from when developing his Star Wars characters and most specifically, Luke Skywalker. Since I discovered his writings a door in my mind opened that cannot be closed.


message 16: by Feliks (last edited Sep 09, 2013 06:20PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Feliks E. Michael wrote: "Michelle, I agree with you that Campbell is useful...AND for literature students: his development in HERO of an outline of archetypes and tropes is invaluable. "

Well. Its not as if literature didn't get along without him for thousands of years before he arrived. Its also not as if the 20th century's wide slew of novels and screenplays weren't successful before he arrived, either. His slant is somewhat helpful to writers but so are a lot of other texts (that of MM Bakhtin for example). Don't let the current Hollywood insanity (producing only 'hero's journey' movies for kiddies) distort your view of his importance. Campbell can be important but he is not essential.

E. Michael wrote: "The assumption that there is/should be data for thoughtful arguments is misapplied in Campbell's case."

Why? When is anyone ever given a free pass in this way? In a way though, what you say makes sense: since Campbell is so emphatically writing in a speculative and personal manner; he can't be held to scholastic standards any more than say, Carlos Castenada.

E. Michael wrote: "Campbell argues vehemently that there is no science of comparative mythology--which is, if I may offer the field, his area of expertise--just as there is no science of medieval literature. "

Eh? He surely has a lot more to say than just this, right? He wouldn't be very famous if this was all he had to provide as his thesis.

Next: it may very well be that I've forgotten this aspect of his writing (although I read 'Hero' earlier this year) but: who ever said that literature was a science? I don't recall him particularly inveighing against this. Even if he did at some point--why would it be a hindrance to his own preachings one way or the other? He can--and did--build his theories just as he proceeded to, regardless of whatever the academic establishment maintained; precisely because he was working from a position outside academia. Correct?

E. Michael wrote: "his endnotes and bibliography of primary and secondary sources for HERO run to 40 pages!"

I've got a copy in my hand right now --taken from my shelf as I type this reply--and I can tell you there are actually no endnotes nor bibliography present at all. Of course, this could be due to any number of picayune reasons. In any case, neither the mere presence of either notes or bibliography demonstrates (in itself) proper scholarship. And I'm certainly not denying that he was a well-read man. That, he obviously was.

Lynn wrote: "however he also has some very powerful advocates for example George Lucas has publicly referred to Joseph Campbell and specifically to "Hero," as one of the fundamental resources he drew from when developing his Star Wars characters and most specifically, Luke Skywalker."

Oh. Well if George Lucas vouches for him, that settles the matter.


message 17: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim B Campbell's critics, I've noticed tend to be Christians, who bristle at his suggestion that religious scriptures are also different versions of the same story. So many teachings take the stance that they are special.


Feliks Not me, fortunately. But I agree with you that they're a touchy bunch.

Nevertheless, I'm more than ever convinced that Campbell leaves huge swathes of storytelling untouched in the scope of his research. He simply went down one road; there were others.


message 19: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim B The first time I picked up Hero I simply could not handle it. I guess the pace was too much. After slogging through all four volumes of "The Masks of God", which also does not include everything but does make a good stab at a comprehensive study, I was able to read Hero.

I guess I had to get my reading muscle developed to handle Campbell's style.


message 20: by Kitty (new) - added it

Kitty I read this book in conjunction with research for a class; my area of focus was the ancient hero Gilgamesh, so I needed to go back and look at early works that related to heroes, their attributes, etc. That said, I started with C.G. Jung's Psychology of the Unconscious, and then moved on to Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces and The Power of Myth. Campbell, one of Jung's students, built upon and branched out from Jung's theories. More recent works demonstrate how far the idea of heroes and heroism has moved from the original psychological base. Some of my other readings were:
• Heroes: What They Do and Why We Need Them, Scott T. Allison and George R. Goethals
• “Understanding Heroism.” Heroic Imagination Project, Philip Zimbardo (online PDF)
• “Heroes or Role Models?” University of Houston, Robert Brienzo (online PDF)

Key for me was Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey; the cyclical element related exactly to my research and laid the foundation for my next project. The Hero with a Thousand Faces is now part of my library.


message 21: by C.R. (new) - rated it 3 stars

C.R. Kitty wrote: "I read this book in conjunction with research for a class; my area of focus was the ancient hero Gilgamesh, so I needed to go back and look at early works that related to heroes, their attributes, ..."

Joseph Campbell's "Hero" draws from many sources to develop the work. Understanding the early sources of myths and their message, sometimes hidden, is another matter. The works of Claude Levi Strauss on the structure of mythology helps. For the early myths such as the Gilgamesh myth Thorkild Jacobsen's "Treasures of Darkness" I found is an essential read.


Lenka Myths are human old soul.


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