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The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Calling Paperback – 2 Oct 1997

3.7 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (2 Oct. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055350634X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553506341
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 28,814 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Acute and powerful..." (Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul)

"Brilliant... I found myself rethinking nearly everything about a life that I thought I knew and believed to be true" (Deirdre Bair, author of Anais Nin: A Biography)

"In this brilliant, absorbing work, Hillman dares us to believe that we are each meant to be here; that we are needed by the world around us" (Publishers Weekly)

From the Back Cover

Plato and the Greeks called it 'daimon', the Romans 'genius', the Christians 'Guardian Angel' - and today we use terms such as 'heart', 'spirit' and 'soul'. For James Hillman it is the central and guiding force of his utterly unique and compelling 'acorn theory' which proposes that each life is formed by a particular image, an image that is the essence of that life and calls it to a destiny, just as the mighty oak's destiny is written in the tiny acorn.

Highly accessible and imaginative, The Soul's Code offers a liberating vision of childhood troubles and an exciting approach to themes such as fate and fatalism, character and desire, family influence and freedom, and, most of all, calling - that invisible mystery at the centre of every life that voices the fundamental question, 'What is it, in my heart, that I must do, be, and have? And why?'

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Only 5 reviews for this book? This was the first Hillman book I read and his best seller. I think it makes a good gateway into the subversive complexity of his ideas. Hillman is not interested in espousing systems but more in exploding ideas with other ideas. This sounds destructive, but it is to Hillman's credit that his use of ideas is nothing if not creative. So the "parental fallacy"that takes on almost an entire arm of psychology and psychotherapy is argued not on the ground of attachment theory and its relative merits, but on the ground of a psychological need to have ideas about character formation that is not based on attachment or genetics. You could see the whole force of the book as pointing in this direction, arguing for seeing one's life as unique based on the evidence of the lives around us. This kind of robust intuitive imaginative approach is going to alienate some, but it does make the book necessary in redressing a balance. It opens up a new room in psychology that had been locked shut. As such, the book is a tour de force, flawed interesting and brilliant, it allows a person to re-imagine themselves without recourse to the hopeless platitudes of self help manuals. His earlier books are better, I would recomend InterViews as a great further introduction.
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Format: Hardcover
When I first read Hillman's 'souls code' I found it difficult to approach and assess. Having read it through on third reading this is probably my favourite Hillman book. It weaves a clever but accessible imaginal revisioning of psychology, childhood and ontology that turns all the assumptions of developmental psychology on it's head. If read and taken literally it can lead you astray. There is a powerful agenda however that reinforces Hillman's central aim of raising awareness of the fundamental role that imagination has in structuring ideas, beliefs and assumptions, particularly in psychology, and how these can constrict our vision and view. A wonderful book that has faults and virtues. Hillman is possibly entertaining a different imagination of who we are replete with Platonic Daemons.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is really a 3.5 because the book is well worth reading, and the core of the "acorn theory" is something that resonates with me. But there were so many areas that seemed to go nowhere, and the examples from history were at times poorly chosen or with a completely American focus that is a bit difficult for non-Americans to relate to.
I'd also expected a bit more about how to start to understand one's own "acorn" but there was little about that and the feeling was that with all the emphasis on well-known & great personages, the ordinary folks' "acorns" have less importance.
It's a good clear read, though, and as a starting point has much to recommend it.
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Format: Paperback
This book tries to form a coherent whole of the thoughts of Plato and Jung without really succeeding despite Hillman's many interesting ideas thoroughly exposed in his book. It is mainly centred around the philosophical struggle of Hillman in trying to conciliate the two thinkers in his own soul and mind. The engaging concept of the acorn can be traced back to the "Seven sermons to the death" written by Jung himself. Unfortunately, Hillman does not analyse these sermons that were published together with the German version of "Memories, Dreams, Reflections" by Jung. Moreover, one of the key tenets in the book is the so-called "parental fallacy" goes against many ychological studies that should have been at least mentioned in some footnotes.
- Briefly: Plato's and Jung's thoughts surely overlap to some extent but why shall we bother to force them together? To those interested in the Hillman's metaphor of the acorn I would recommend "The Gnostic Jung and the Seven Sermons to the Dead" by Stephan A. Hoeller instead.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hillman weaves a lovely tale.
When reading it, I wished so much for it to be true. Unfortunately, there can be no dismissing ones dismal beginnings: the unwillingness or inability of a parent to offer a suitable attachment, suitable nurturing and the all important, essential, unconditional love, can make or break during a child's formative years.
Berne (father of transactional analysis) writes of a 'Script,' that part of us formed very early on in life and that reflects levels of nature / nurture.
I admire the mind that conceived of such a treasure. The, 'Acorn-Theory,' is a wonderfully optimistic endeavour and offers much in the way of hope.
Personally, I don't fully buy into it - perhaps neither should you: like all good theories, they should be questioned and submitted to scrutiny, not taken laying down.
A good book - author waffles wildly and at random throughout, but a great sentiment nonetheless. A wonderful and much needed worldly tonic, in these dark and difficult days….Buy it!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this a difficult book but that is not to say uninteresting. It is densely written and puts foreword a fascinating hypothesis - that we all carry within us the kernel of what we are bound to become. Sometimes things go wrong and we don't live the life we were destined for. At least this is what I understood.
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Format: Paperback
This book is exactly what the title says....there is no avoiding your souls calling and learning how to see the signs/ opportunity along the way ., the acorn theory affirms our uniqueness and destiny
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