A study of heroism in the myths of the world - an exploration of all the elements common to the great stories that have helped people make sense of ...Show synopsisA study of heroism in the myths of the world - an exploration of all the elements common to the great stories that have helped people make sense of their lives from the earliest times. It takes in Greek Apollo, Maori and Jewish rites, the Buddha, Wotan, and the bothers Grimm's Frog-King.Hide synopsis
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Description:New. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 418 p....New. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 418 p. Contains: Illustrations, black & white, Line drawings, black & white, Figures. Collected Works of Joseph Campbell.
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I was interested in reading this book after reading The Power of Myth last year, by the same author. Whereas the Power of Myth was essentially an overview of Cambell's work, this book is a deeper, more specific study. One of the best things about it is how it illustrates the major arguments by including large selections of many myths from all over the world.
Originally written in 1949, this book has become a classic, wielding an influence at least as great as that of Sir James Frazer's The Golden Bough. Many prominent people have admitted being influenced by it, including filmmaker George Lucas, who read it after completing the draft of the first "Star Wars" movie and went back and revised his screenplay to more-closely follow Campbell's ideas.
Campbell's thesis was that all cultural and religious myths were basically the same; that is, they generally conformed to a universal model, which Campbell claimed has remained remarkably constant throughout mankind's history. Campbell also agreed with Sigmund Freud and Robert Graves that myths are deliberately disguised, so that only the enlightened understand them. What we see superficially as an astounding story contains a deep, fundamental concept of mankind's most basic nature.
As an explanation of why this universal aspect exists, Campbell further maintained that we all have hero-dreams that follow the same pattern: we are alone, we come upon a major obstacle, we overcome the problem, either through our own efforts or by the help of another, and suddenly find great peace and contentment. This is the universal hero-saga and any story that adheres to this outline will (properly told) strike a universal chord of sympathy.
Campbell was extremely well-read and the book is a treasure-trove of folkloric anecdotes. One could call it a one-volume education in mythology. it is also beautifully written, with the grace of a poet and the skill of a masterly storyteller.
I bought this to listen to while on a plane...it was something I thought about using when I teach...as I do teach units on heroes and myths. While the story was good...taking the hero myths and stories in all different directions...I would definitely recommend actually reading this and not listening to it. The language at times is complicated, and the ideas are too deep to listen to. Bottom line...great book...not so much in audio.
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