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The Hero with a Thousand Faces Hardcover – Jul 28 2008

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The Hero with a Thousand Faces + The Power of Myth + Pathways to Bliss: Mythology and Personal Transformation
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: New World Library; 3rd edition (July 28 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1577315936
  • ISBN-13: 978-1577315933
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.2 x 22.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 567 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #807 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Peter C. Labrie on Oct. 17 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is exhaustively researched, and full of rich detail. This said, I think Campbell could have summarized his points more often, and more effectively. Hence; it is easy to get lost in the minutiae. I would recommend the book for anyone interested in digging deeply into the psychological basis of mythology. On that score it is unparalleled

If the reader is interested in applying mythology to writing, Chritopher Vogler's book "The Writer's Journey" is more focused. This book covers the same territory, wihin a workable structure, showing how to apply mythology to contemporary writing. Then again, if you have the time, read them both. Cheers,
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tami Brady HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Oct. 9 2008
Format: Hardcover
The Hero with a Thousand Faces is the work that first introduced me to Joseph Campbell. It was then and continues to be one of my favorite books of all time. Each time I read this valuable resource, I uncover another layer of usefulness. This time, I was specifically looking at how the cycle of the Hero's Journey directly related to the cycle of healing.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces presents Campbell's Hero's Journey. By looking at mythology worldwide, he noticed some very significant similarities in the journeys taken by the hero or heroine of these stories, hence the cycle. In this work, Campbell presents a number of snippets from different myths showing that indeed such a pattern exists. Indeed, it is a template still used by the best pieces of fiction and some of the most memorable movies.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces is a must have for anyone the least bit interested in mythology as well as every psychologist, writer, and healer on the planet. This is one of those books that quickly becomes dog-eared with consistent reuse.
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By Mary H Eilts on Sept. 2 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are a writer, you should have this book on your book shelf.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Vanayssa Somers on Nov. 3 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well, I thought this was a different one of Campbell's books so realized after it came, it is more of a reference book for teachers or therapists or writers. A good book to have on hand, however. I am very interested in symbolic things, and archetypes in particular.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 323 reviews
547 of 578 people found the following review helpful
A landmark of 20th century literature. April 27 1998
By Will Errickson - Published on
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.
171 of 183 people found the following review helpful
A Book with a capital "B." July 7 2002
By OAKSHAMAN - Published on
Format: Paperback
First of all, I feel inadequate and unworthy to review this book, but since Amazon has given me the chance, all I can say is that this is one of the greatest Books (with a capital "B") of my experience. I suspect that it shall be recognised as one of the single greatest products to come out of 20th century American letters.

No, I'm not setting Campbell up as a prophet or anything like that, indeed, I suspect that this book's greatness lies in the eternal truths that transcend Campbell's individual personality. He just managed to tap into them- thank God.

The entire book deals with the hero's journey. This is the Monomyth shared by all cultures- and indeed seems to be a direct inspiration from the cosmos itself by way of the collective unconscious. Here we have the eternal cycle of 1) the call to adventure; 2) the crossing of the threshold; 3) the tests, trials, and helpers; 4) the sacred marriage, apotheosis (becoming one with god), or elixir theft; 5)the flight 6) recrossing/ressurection; and 7) the return to society with hard won gifts. He examines all of these elements in depth with a wealth of cross-cultural examples. The first half of the book deals with this cycle on a more individual and personal level (the microcosm), while the second half deals with the greater cosmogonic importance (the macrocosm.)

Now, the really amazing part of all this is that virtually all of it comes across as meaningful, interesting, and totally nonacademic. That's why academic types hate Campbell, and his mentor Jung,- they know that Campbell's and Jung's works will endure and be read a thousand years from now, while their own monographs will be justly forgotten. There are a lot of mediocre Ph.D's out there that can never forget that Campbell never bothered to get a doctorate, because he considered such degrees to be a worthless and meaningless waste of time....

I've read this particular edition three times now- it is well designed and manufactured and has resonable sized print. I've also listened to the entire audio version at least twice- it is well edited and it is very difficult to figure out where exactly it is abridged.
256 of 284 people found the following review helpful
Profound, World Shakingly Influential & Changing. Aug. 7 2000
By Robert Kall - Published on
Format: Paperback
All may roads may lead to Rome, but for me, this year, all books seemed to lead to Joseph Campbell's Hero With 1000 Faces.
I have discovered that this book is probably one of the most influential, widely read books of the 20th century. It's no wonder the author, Joseph Campbell, was featured in a Bill Moyers special on The Power of Myth (with an accompanying book, as usual for Bill Moyer's specials.)
I was reading books on writing-- on story structure-- Particularly, Christopher Vogler's excellent Writer's Journey, and it was based on this book. Ironically, I was already reading another of Campbell's series of books on myth. But then I started looking deeper into this realm-- the idea of the Hero's journey, -- the call to adventure, refusing the call, finding a mentor, encountering threshold guardians, crossing the threshold, facing the worst evil, winning the elixir--- and I discovered that dozens of books have been written about the concepts Joseph Campbell first broached.
It's such a powerful idea, and so useful in conceptualizing life's changes. I used it as an element in a presentation I just gave this past weekend on how the art and science of story can be applied to healing and helping people grow. 80% of the people attending the lecture were familiar with the concept.
This is such powerful material, you might consider essential for helping you understand the way movies are made, and how the contemporary world has been affected by advertising and the loss of sacred rituals in everyday life.
One way I gauge a book is by how many marks I make in the margins, to indicate wise ideas or quotable material ( I collect quotes, and quotation books big-time, owning over 400 quotation books) and this book's margins are just packed. The depth of knowledge in mythology and anthropology is awesome, providing a wealth of examples, metaphors, ancient stories and myths which deepen your understanding of human nature. The only problem with this book is how often, in conversations, I've found it to be relevant, whether talking about a friend who is going through some tough times, or someone who is making some changes in his business.
Rob Kall
59 of 63 people found the following review helpful
A New Hope... July 8 2002
By JR Pinto - Published on
Format: Paperback
Joseph Campbell is a "love him or hate him" type of guy. The other reviews of his works that I have found on Amazon bear this out. The criticisms seem to be that his examples do not bear out his theories, that he relies on Freudian and Jungian psychology as "proof", and that people do not agree with his world-view. My response is this: we must bear in mind that Joseph Campbell was, above all things, a pioneer. A pioneer need not get everything right the first time out - he is setting up a new paradigm with which to view the world. Freud did not get everything right when he fathered modern psychoanalysis, but he created a new framework and steered it in the direction it needed to go.
The Hero with a Thousand Faces is a comparative study of the religions and myths of the world. Its central theme is that all of their stories are essentially the same. They follow certain archetypal paths that are different in particular circumstances, but in general, follow the same overall arch. Now, this is not 100% true as even he admits - stories get changed around a bit and different things happen, but to the extent that he makes his point, the similarities are astonishing. His conclusion - or ONE possible interpretation - is that this reflects certain archetypal themes that are in every society's collective subconscious (Jung) and that these myths represent eternal truths about to look at it and how to live it.
Now, as to the criticism that his examples don't bear out his theories, Campbell states that he is just choosing an example or two to illustrate his point. The purpose of this book is not to be a comprehensive collection of the world's myths - that book is The Golden Bough. Campbell selects myths that the average reader may not be familiar with. While sometimes similarities may not be immediately apparent, it is open to disagreement as any essay on literature is. Campbell warns though that these myths must be ready as poetry, not prose - so beware of any callow analysis. Personally, I would have like his using more familiar myths - especially Arthurian legends - to illustrate his point.
As for his seeming to rely on Freud and Jung as gospel, that is a bit dated. Even so, the fact that his theories do jibe with Jungian psychology is significant - if not actual "proof" that he's right. And as for disagreements with his world-view, that is irrelevant. Campbell has developed a framework with which to view the world; you do not have to draw the same conclusions from it that he does. Campbell did not believe in a personal God, and I believe he is wrong about that. But the underlying message to me is that, even though people may have divergent beliefs about religion, the underlying ideas and values of religion ARE DEMONSTRATABLY TRUE.
Campbell goes through each stage of the hero's journey, with all its variations. This is meant not only as academia but it is for YOU - the READER. This is how one views one's own life. These ancient stories were not just for entertainment - they showed us how to live. That's what this book is for.
94 of 106 people found the following review helpful
Humanities Scholar Writing for the Layperson Jan. 10 2010
By P.G. - Published on
Format: Hardcover
So what is "Hero?" Campbell is a comparative mythologist, and the original title was "How to Read a Myth." While scholarly in nature, "Hero" is not a formal scholarly paper and should not be read as such. Instead, it falls in the realm of literature. Campbell was awarded the National Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Contributions to Creative Literature for "Hero." As a scholar, he was particularly proud of this fact. While the book is not necessarily an easy read, it was written for the general public. It's difficulty may account for the "snooze factor" some reviewers attribute to it. "Hero" is a broad survey of what is similar about the world's mythologies, remarkable in breadth for its length. Rather than focus on what makes us different, as most comparative religion scholars do, he chose to focus on what makes us similar. If this interests you I suggest you read it. If after you are finished you wish for more depth, I suggest you try his four volume series "Masks of God."

If you read some of the negative reviews you will get the impression Campbell tries to provide you with answers to life's great mysteries. This is false. Instead, he borrows vocabulary from a staggering variety of the world's mythologies to describe that mystery. You will also get the impression that Campbell thinks he found the one and only way to interpret mythology. This is also false. On page one of the epilogue he says, "There is no final system for the interpretation of myths, and there will never be any such thing." You may also get the impression that Campbell was a mystic or part of the New Age movement. Again, false. When asked what method of meditation he practices, he once responded, "I underline sentences." In other words, he is a scholar.