The Hero's Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell)

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Joseph Campbell, arguably the greatest mythologist of the twentieth century, was certainly one of our greatest storytellers. This masterfully crafted book interweaves conversations between Campbell and some of the people he inspired, including poet Robert Bly, anthropologist Angeles Arrien, filmmaker David Kennard, Doors drummer John Densmore, psychiatric pioneer Stanislov Grof, Nobel laureate Roger Guillemen, and others. Campbell reflects on subjects ranging from the origins and functions of myth, the role of the artist, and the need for ritual to the ordeals of love and romance. With poetry and humor, Campbell recounts his own quest and conveys the excitement of his lifelong exploration of our mythic traditions, what he called the one great story of mankind.”

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The man behind the myth is lovingly revealed in this collection of interviews with the late Joseph Campbell. Using Campbell's format for the "hero's journey," editor Phil Cousineau organized these interviews so that they reflect Campbell's own chronological life quest. He begins with "The Call to Adventure," in which Campbell speaks to his fascination with Native American myth as a child, and moves through "The Road of Trials" (his years in college and as a young professor at Sarah Lawrence) and the "Meeting with the Goddess" (referring to meeting his wife of 50 years, the modern dancer Jean Erdman). Since most of the book is written in a question and answer format (with a few excerpts from lectures), much of the text is in Campbell's own words. It is a feast for any fan to hear Campbell speak so personally about his own life while also imparting his usual insight and wisdom on every topic he discusses.

A few morsels of this feast can be found in the following tidbits: for example, readers may be surprised to discover that Campbell considered his half-mile track races in college to be the "peak" experiences of his life. (Campbell was an esteemed track star at Columbia University in the mid-1920s.) Or that it was the famous Paris-dweller and bookseller Sylvia Beach who helped Campbell understand the meaning behind Ulysses in 1928 and was influential in steering Campbell into the realm of mythology and heroes. Or that Campbell believed that his uncanny ability to relate myths to contemporary life came from teaching female students at Sarah Lawrence. "They always wanted the material to relate to themselves, to life," he explained to interviewer Stuart Brown. "I attribute the popular aspects of my writing to the training I got from these students." Or that The Hero with a Thousand Faces inspired numerous artists, including George Lucas of Star Wars fame and Richard Adams, author of Watership Down.

This is also a generously illustrated book, with numerous photos of Campbell, many of which are shown in their authentic sepia tones. Numerous full-color images of famous artwork and images speak to each mythological theme in the book, such as the "Death of Socrates" (Jacques Louis David, 1787) and the painting of "Sacred and Profane" (Titan, circa 1514). --Gail Hudson

About the Author:

Joseph Campbell (1904–1987) is widely credited with bringing mythology to a mass audience. His works, including the four-volume The Masks of God and The Power of Myth (with Bill Moyers), rank among the classics in mythology and literature.

Phil Cousineau is an award-winning writer and filmmaker, teacher and editor, lecturer and travel leader, storyteller and TV host. He has written and co-written numerous books on religion, travel, and mythology, including The Art of Pilgrimage and Once and Future Myths. He lives in San Francisco.

Stuart L. Brown was the executive producer of (and driving force behind) the popular documentary film The Hero's Journey: The World of Joseph Campbell. He lives in Northern California.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780062501028: The Hero's Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work

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ISBN 10:  006250102X ISBN 13:  9780062501028
Publisher: Harper & Row, 1990
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9781577314042: The Hero's Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell)

New Wo..., 2003
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9781862045989: The Hero's Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work

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9780062501714: The Hero's Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work: The World of Joseph Campbell

Harper..., 1991
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