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Hero with a Thousand Faces

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  • Posted March 8, 2012

    I can easily say this is one of my favorite non-fiction books I'

    I can easily say this is one of my favorite non-fiction books I've ever read. It is outrageously interesting and makes the reader truly question many of our fables, fairy tales, religious stories and in general our understanding of literature through different cultures. In "The Hero with a Thousand Faces", Joseph Campbell states that there is "the monomyth" which is a term he borrowed from Joyce Finnegan's "Wake". He defines the monomyth as the importance and/or presence of a myth in human culture, society and individual experience. It has the ability to transcend time, place, culture, gender and spiritual aspects. The universal theme of the book is that mythological events and beliefs occur in very similar ways in very different cultures, sometimes as far as half the world away. The monomyth he is referring to is what we like to think of as "the hero's journey". Campbell uses the archetypal story of the hero's journey to explore essential human truths. The hero's journey translates throughout cultures; Osiris was the Egyptian hero, Prometheus is the champion of mankind in Greek mythology, the Budda's story and relevance to Eastern culture and philosophy, and also probably the most recognizable one is Jesus Christ, and what he did for humanity. The hero's journey can be broken down into three parts, but is not limited to them. The first one is; A Call to Adventure. This is where the hero must begin his quest to serve a purpose beyond themselves. This is generally followed by; A Road of Trials. This is probably easiest to explain using the example of Jesus seeing as he was put through many trials and hardships but he fought through them. And finally is; the goal or the "boon". The boon is the prize at the end of the tunnel. The hero's journey can end here, although another important aspect is the applications of the boon after the hero returns home. Does the hero decide to keep it for themselves, or relay it to the people. Now this book is primarily a psychological study of cultural phenomenon, showing similarities between ancient eastern and western civilization's fabels and myths, and uses tools such as psychoanalysis to answer his ultimate question "Why is mythology everywhere and the same, beneath its varieties of costume?" This question really made me think. I liked almost all of the aspects of this book and in the years Ive been reading, Ive only come by a few books as interesting and thought inducing as this, also his word choice was glorious. I cant think of anything negative about this book, besides maybe the fact that it ended. Id give this book 5 out of 5 stars and Id highly recommend it to anybody who finds mythology, history, psychology, or philosophy interesting. Id recommend "Candide" by Voltaire and also anything by early Freud. In conclusion, read this book. Learn it, Love it, Live it.

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