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The Hero with a Thousand Faces Paperback – 13 Sep 1993


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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Fontana Press; (Reissue) edition (13 Sep 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0586085718
  • ISBN-13: 978-0586085714
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 3.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 41,316 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joseph Campbell was an American mythologist, writer and lecturer, best known for his work in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work is vast, covering many aspects of the human experience. His philosophy is often summarized by his phrase: "Follow your bliss."

Product Description

Review

‘A brilliant examination, through ancient hero myths, of man’s eternal struggle for identity.’ Time

From the Back Cover

Despite their infinite variety of incident, setting, and number costume, the myths of the world offer only a limited number of responses to the riddle of life.

In this fascinating and influential book, Joseph Campbell presents the composite hero. Apollo, the Frog King of the fairy tale, Wotan, the Buddha., and numerous other protagonists of folklore and religion enact simultaneously the various phases of their common story.

The relationship of their timeless symbols to those discovered in dream by contemporary depth psychology is taken as a starting point for interpretation. The psychological view is then compared with the words of such spiritual leaders as Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Lao-tse, and the 'Old Man' of the Australian tribes. From behind a thousand faces the single hero looks out, archetype of all human myth.

"Campbell's words carry extraordinary weight, not only among scholars but a wide range of other people who find his search down mythical pathways relevant to their lives today."
TIME


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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

122 of 126 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 April 1998
Format: Paperback
Joseph Campbell was one of the great souls of our age. I've read this book twice, first on my own and the second for a class in "Myth, Religion & the Mythic Imagination." I read the paperack to tatters, literally, marking each illuminating, exhilirating insight. "Dry"? "Not a fun read"? What book did YOU read? Campbell is unlike other writers on myth; he looks not at an entire myth but at its parts. By the end of the book, he has essentially created the Ultimate Hero Myth, which takes bits of every hero myth from virtually every culture (heavy on Native Americans). Campbell was not a dispassionate academic--this was his gospel, and he lived by it. This book is alive and inspiring like no other book I know. One unique aspect of it at the time it was published was its approach to Christianity. For Campbell, Christ's life had to be seen as a myth. Before him, most Western scholars wouldn't have dare to say such a thing. Others had written on that, but in a skeptical manner. Campbell's view is that the Virgin Birth, miracles, Resurrection, etc have meaning only because they ARE myths. Look, there'd be no "Star Wars" without this. No "Sandman" comics from Neil Gaiman. No "Watership Down." This book is for the intellectual who wants to LIVE, not just to sit sterile at the desk. Recommended like mad.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By U. Sinha on 11 July 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a classic for writers and storytellers and I'm ashamed to say I've only just read it at the age of 56. However, like many profound books, it's a book that means much more when one's ready for it. I'm not sure if I'd read it younger, or at a calm period in my life, that it would have had such an impact, although it's wonderfully researched and beautifully written and would be illuminating on a purely academic level. I read it after going through one of those periods where life throws up one thing after another until it seems more than just coincidence - like some sort of extreme test of one's strength. It helped me to assimilate the experience - recognising the hero's journey in my own, with its entry into dark places, its ordeals, and the eventual emergence with invisible treasure. Looking for the treasure helped me to make meaning from what I had experienced and focus on the positive instead of the negative. Since then I have looked up the myths and started reading some of the books he uses as sources, which is also proving fascinating. It's a book I will read again and again because I know I will find deeper meanings in it with each reading, and it has also given me an insight into the themes of my own life and writing, and sources for stories to tell.
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54 of 56 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 10 Jan 2000
Format: Paperback
An excellent and very informative read. So absorbing couldn't put it down until finished! The author presents this book in an innovative and interesting way : a psychological interpretation of the hero throughout human history and across the continents analysing various myths and legends. A must for all budding authors because the book can be used as a blueprint for writing novels through its in depth look at the role of the hero.
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91 of 96 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 July 2000
Format: Paperback
"A hero is someone who has given himself to something bigger than, or other than, himself."
That sort of definition conveys the wide applicability of "the hero cycle" articulated by Campbell. His influence on George Lucas' Star Wars films is, of course, well-known.
Campbell's thrust is to blur the distinction between established religious orthodoxy and mythology. He bluntly states that "all religions are true for their time; they are true as metaphorical representations of the range of human psychological and spiritual experience".
The very substantial influence of Carl Gustav Jung is felt throughout Campbell's work. Religious ideas are METAPHORS. When one becomes "stuck to one's metaphor", one misses the point of religion, which is - to awaken one to the presence of these forces within oneself, and instead becomes embroiled in creedbound religious formalism.
Jung maintained that "religion" is a defense against a religious experience, that if one constantly projects these ideas outwardly, rather than seeking to find and elaborate them inwardly within oneself, the inner psychology is unaffected and remains barbaric.
This is a very good starting point for Campbell's work. Be certain to see "The Power of Myth" videos with Bill Moyers for an infectiously engaging introduction to comparative religion and mythology.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Marc John on 9 Aug 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The key to understanding this classic book, and getting the most from it, is to realise that it's actually all about YOU. Campbell wrote it for YOU. Just think about the title for a start. YOU are the hero and your hero's journey is all about finding your inner life, your divine spark, and being engulfed and re-born out of it. This is what all the world's great hero myths were really talking about, symbolically, and Campbell brilliantly draws together the universal themes and parallels running through all the world's mystical and religious traditions, all of which were concerned (when understood metaphorically instead of literally) with this marvellous "death and resurrection" of the human psyche - from human animal to divine incarnation. It's a heroic deed which we all have the potential to achieve, and this book vibrantly and beautifully recollects many anicent stories that have drawn Mankind's imagination toward this very real transformation, through the use of the oldest and best means at our disposal - symbolic storytelling. This book is not just for the student or teacher of mythology or comparative religion, it's for everyone on the spiritual path. In fact, this book speaks directly to you wherever you are right now in life, whether on that path or not. Simply brilliant, and possibly the most important book of the 20th century. Even the full five star rating is not enough!
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