The Power of Myth

The Power of Myth

4.4 52
by Joseph Campbell
     
 

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The national bestseller, now available in a non-illustrated, standard format paperback edition
 
The Power of Myth launched an extraordinary resurgence of interest in Joseph Campbell and his work. A preeminent scholar, writer, and teacher, he has had a profound influence on millions of people—including Star Wars creator George

Overview

The national bestseller, now available in a non-illustrated, standard format paperback edition
 
The Power of Myth launched an extraordinary resurgence of interest in Joseph Campbell and his work. A preeminent scholar, writer, and teacher, he has had a profound influence on millions of people—including Star Wars creator George Lucas. To Campbell, mythology was the “song of the universe, the music of the spheres.” With Bill Moyers, one of America’s most prominent journalists, as his thoughtful and engaging interviewer, The Power of Myth touches on subjects from modern marriage to virgin births, from Jesus to John Lennon, offering a brilliant combination of intelligence and wit.

This extraordinary book reveals how the themes and symbols of ancient narratives continue to bring meaning to birth, death, love, and war. From stories of the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece and Rome to traditions of Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity, a broad array of themes are considered that together identify the universality of human experience across time and culture. An impeccable match of interviewer and subject, a timeless distillation of Campbell’s work, The Power of Myth continues to exert a profound influence on our culture.  

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The symbols of mythology and legend are all around  us, embedded in the fabric of our daily lives, and  the Moyers-Campbell dialogues are a welcom guide  to recognizing and understanding their meanings."  — Cincinnati Post.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385418867
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/28/1991
Edition description:
Reissue
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
39,604
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Joseph Campbell (1904-87) began his career in 1934 as an instructor at Sarah Lawrence College, where he taught for almost forty years, and where the Joseph Campbell Chair in Comparative Mythology was established in his honor. He is the author of numerous books, including the bestselling The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

Bill Moyers is an acclaimed journalist, widely respected for his work both at CBS News and at PBS. One of his primary efforts has been to bring to television outstanding thinkers of our time, most recently in the immensely popular and highly celebrated PBS series and bestselling book A World of Ideas. His conversations with Joseph Campbell were one of the highlights of television programming in the 1980s.

Betty Sue Flowers teaches poetry and myth at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author and coauthor of several books, including Browning and the Modern Tradition, Four Shields of Power, and Daughters and Fathers.

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The Power of Myth 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 52 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is captivating and understandable; anyone can explore and understand the concepts and themes. The Power of Myth encompasses so many themes relating to mythology. The book is brimming with in depth information, from reoccurring symbols like the serpent, the hero's journey that crops up in almost every story ever told, to the driving force of mythology and religion. This book is a complete guide to myths and their importance. I really enjoyed the way Dr. Campbell intertwined the myths and religious stories from across the world and applied them to the way we live life. The reader also glimpses more details different religions, as Dr. Campbell occasionally tells stories from many different cultures and religions through the world and highlights similarities of these religions. To me this made the themes a lot richer and significant. Dr. Campbell also made them relevant; Star Wars even made its way into the conversation as an example of how the themes in myths aren't mythical. This book is definitely interesting, but it's not a page turner. I found that I couldn't sit and read it for any long periods of time. This book is not for you if you lack patience or if you looking for a fast and effortless read. However, it is a worthwhile read and if you interested in the way myths are shaped and how they shape our life, or even just religion, definitely read this book, check out the DVD series, or one of Dr. Campbell's other works such as The Hero with a Thousand Faces. The Power of Myth was an incredibly meaningful and enlightening book and I strongly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ever wondered why a serpent is a common theme in mythological literature, as well as religious tales? Or perhaps the real question is why characters in fiction seem to go through the same steps before the end of the story? In Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth, all questions about symbolism in mythology are addressed and answered, including how mythology aids daily life today. Many different aspects of myth are explored throughout the pages. Campbell goes into detail with where mythology is placed in today's society, the stories of different beliefs, the history of the hero's journey with fictional literature, as well as how people use myths in their everyday lives. Not a single topic under the general category of the influences myth has is missed. This book was well-liked for various reasons. The interview format doesn't skip a single word, so the information presented is very detailed and in-depth. This work is helpful if the reader would like to learn more about the symbolism behind stories involved with religions and literature, and it helps the reader to understand and appreciate the meaning and importance of those myths. The relationships between mythology and life today are recognized, as well as how important those connections are. Campbell also explains how the myths of different cultures and religions relate to each other, so to understand that everyone learns very similar stories about rites of passage and growing up, no matter what beliefs they grew up around. This connection is meaningful to those who want to understand more about religions and how they intertwine with one another. Myth is also shown to be extremely helpful in modern lives today, to help us live through obstacles. Mythology is displayed as a useful guide in life throughout many different cultures. However, the book also had its downfalls. This would not be the best choice for a reader who would rather keep the symbols and structures of myth a mystery to them so they can infer that information for themselves. Also, if the reader would rather read a story or something with a plot, this is not the book for them. This book merely explains those plots of other myths, which is no simple feat either. This book was written to inform rather than for pleasure reading, but it is an excellent book to have on the shelf for reference. Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth was a powerful read and will most likely be read again. I'd give this non-fiction novel four stars out of five, and five stars for how meaningful and educational it was.
Aeon_of_the_Ages More than 1 year ago
I really love this book, and am glad they kept it in interview format so as not to miss a single, well-placed word! Joseph Campbell really got it right, and Bill Moyers asks all the imperative questions. A perfect guide to proper mythology, both modern and ancient; essential for creators of fiction, and students of life! Thought-provoking and compelling.. Timeless and pertinent... Thrilling and intense... A truly great read, and very educational. EVERYONE should read this book! (Or watch the DVD!) Regarding my recommendations: I understand that they may have seemingly little relation to PoM, but, they're all essential to me in regards to understanding the universe, and how we fit into it. Enjoy!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing.I have seen the dvd with the conversation with Bill Moyers.And i cannot tell you how much i have learnt about myself and about the world we live in.This is a must read for anyone willing to take that huge leap to discover oneself.It is often the road that few dare to take..discovering our true self and loving what is..Many things will be revealed to you about your own destiny and part that you play in this world. You will have a greater appreciation for all things great and small.We are all from the same tree> you and i are one>When you hurt me you hurt yourself.This all makes sense. I have found myself..and i am loving every moment that i am alive.Oh, what a gift to behold!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read The Power of Myth over and over after seeing the PBS special with Bill Moyer. Joseph Campbell's teachings through all of his books has open my mind to a greater understand of mythology rituals and how they are lost. I now understand James Joyce and Homer. A must read for any person seeking a greater understand of self and the universe. My literature experience has never been the same.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Got Well Into an Influential/ Inspirational Read The Power of Myth showed the values and symbols how myths from different religions and cultures represent and relate to reality. A hero’s journey end is not important or his identity with figures or powers, rather the wisdom and the power to serve others.The trials of a hero itself are designed to test the hero’s courage, knowledge, and importantly a heroic transformation of consciousness. A hero’s adventure is written by someone who may have experienced similar elements; he must overcome powers of the darkness similar to an individual should persevere hardships of his or her daily lives and not change. Otherwise, Campbell said an individual’s journey is also following one’s bliss. Furthermore, Campbell clarified a myth’s plot shouldn’t be taken literally but metaphorically. According to Campbell’s interpretation, heaven is a place of consciousness instead of a literal place and reincarnation is a realization of an individual's capability and development in his or her life. Philosophically, myths are based on personal experiences: experiences on love, suffering spiritually, and oneself which all are the feelings of rapture being alive. I enjoyed this read because of Campbell’s complex outlook on myths.The book dragged on a few bits and pieces here and there but purposely to emphasize key themes and their significance in society’s presence. The interviewer was Bill Moyers and he didn't ask stupid questions but made insightful remarks and questions. At many points I was indulged in reading more and related to the book. Campbell’s theories and interpretations intrigued me and made me think. The only mythology I recognized before was Greek mythology because I was so oblivious. I didn’t realize myths were always around me but that may because I’m not that bright, but now I sort of geek out. I was inspired most by Campbell’s motif, experiences of in one’s life, telling me the happiness of love and the torture, or sadness from sufferings give me the feeling of being alive. Nonetheless, Campbell inspired me to follow my bliss to reach the happiness that is my adventure. The book does not have a plot so it was hard for me. Anyone looking in for a long, specific, detailed reading on philosophy of being alive or for analyzation of myths should read this book. The reader will learn about similarities and differences between myths and reality.
FiercestStorm More than 1 year ago
The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell was an amazing read, even if it was not necessarily what I was expecting. The title led me to believe that the book was about specific myths’ and their effects on modern stories/sayings but I was joyfully surprised when I discovered that it was a more advanced base idea than my previous opinion. I enjoyed the fact that the novel was left in the original interview layout as it allowed a better understanding of the ideas when they were in response to questions. As for Campbell’s insights about mythic stories’ effects on modern society, I simply have to say that they were nothing less than enlightening. He took the average perception of societal themes and translated them through a prolonged timeline in order to deliver their morphed forms present in current societal standards. The transcendent idea that seeks comprehension is one of his ideas that is most easily traced throughout history. His thoughts on the human fascination with a transcendent ideal to strive for hits home with me as I can observe it in effect during everyday life in modern times. The review style could become a little dull at times but I think that it was a good choice of style as it produced a more descriptive novel than if the ideas were summed. I would strongly recommend this book as the ideas expressed inside can be very enlightening and change perception of everyday actions.
Thoronthebookguy More than 1 year ago
Not quite what I was expecting, Joseph Campbell’s “The Power of Myth” isn’t the book I thought it was going to be. What I expected was a page turner that would deepen my knowledge of mythology and its influence on the modern world. What I received was a written transcription of an interview between Joseph Campbell, writer and researcher of mythology, and Bill Moyers an American journalist and commentator. The basic conversation revolves around how myths have always provided values and morals to the people who believe in them. For example, in Christianity you are jugged based on the deeds you have done in life. The results of these deeds send you to a place where you will be rewarded or punished. The Christian stories are very similar to Egyptian mythology. Personally, I would have liked to have just watch the interview rather than read it and I would have preferred that they stay away from the underlying meaning of each story and delve deeply into the foundations of the myths themselves. I give “The Power of Myth” a three out of five stars mainly because I dislike the interview format and believe that the title mislead readers into thinking that they would end up learning about more myths. At the same time, I must give the book praise in that I did really like the fact that it makes you think deeply about your individual beliefs and your own culture which is something I haven‘t engaged in based on a reading experience in a long time. If you are interested in “The Power of Myth”, I would suggest that you try to find a video copy of the interview. If you can’t, realize that it is a decent read; one that is thought provoking, but will not make your top ten list. If you want to learn more about myths you should take a look at “Heroes, Gods and Monsters of the Greek Myths” or “The Myths, Legends, and Lore of Ireland” that tell the tails and give some extra information without getting overly philosophical.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Joseph Campbell was one of the giants in the field of mythology, amassing a formidable amount of facts from all over the world. The enthusiasm with which he addresses every facet of this, his lifelong work is compelling...a joy to behold. A master of storytelling, Campbell brings life to the myths, while quietly making sure that the moral to the story is not lost. Christian, Jew, Moslem, Hindu, Pagan...are all addressed in this impactful series, the underlying themes and threads that connect us all are held up to the light, so that seeing, we may begin to understand not only ourselves, not only others...but the very essence of what life is about. These lessons ought to be in the hands of every child...and every adult.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Wonderful insights into the way Campbell's mind works and how he views the world around him. Moyers asks all the right questions to prove deep into the connections Campbell has made throughout his life on the subjects of myth, ritual, and religion. Must read for any who enjoys obtaining perspectives most would not think to explore.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A must-read for anyone in search of what is lacking in society and education: depth. Campbell has opened a door of lightness; may we all flock in to hear his stories.
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FaceMan More than 1 year ago
A wonderfully written book about Mythology and the "rules" of this genre as well as the reasoning of Myth/Fable. Further, the ideologies of Myth are expounded all thoroughly by Campbell. This is great for knowledge, but more apt for one who is learning to write, especially in this genre. Many tips about the rules or the foundations of a powerful Myth. Campbell also mentions Buddhism and some tenets of Plato too. Enjoy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I watched the PBS documentary of The Power of Myth and then read the book. I have since gone on to read other books by Prof. Campbell and his foundation has allowed me to see the metaphor in philosophy and theology. I recommend this to anyone interested in unlocking the magic of mythology
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The power of myth is a book that encompasses the idea of myth's role in human society. I believe that Campbell puts forth a interesting point that myth is a large part of our lives through religion and morals as well as an insight into the hardships and events that we live through. I like how he takes the myths and explains his view on why we have myth. He looks as symbolism as part of myth and the one i like the most is the United States seal on the dollar bill. He says that the eye at the apex represents god but the government as god governing over the people from above seeing all things. indicating that the best governments know what goes on and how each action affects people. He gives us his input on what he thinks makes myth important and its. However, It is a slightly boring in writing style because the whole book is dialoged between him and Bill Moyers . Losing interest is fairly easy with this book but there are many intriguing points he makes. A theology/philosophy major might like this because it has to look at Campbell's reasons why myths are important and the effects of myth on him. This book was based on a Pbs tv program  and is mostly just interview dialogue so therefore this should not be a movie. It wouldn't be a very exciting movie as it is anyway. Andrew T
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lzhnl5 More than 1 year ago
Power of the Myth was an amazingly interesting book highlighting things that make you really think about life in general and how much a myth is in our day to day lives. The author broke down a lot of things that people need help with in life. This book is more of a self help book to let you understand what’s happening to you. Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers ask questions that you may have never thought of in a million years. They hit on points that have you question a lot of things. The book is extremely easy to read because it’s all in dialogue so its a pretty fast read. My favourite part of this book was when Joseph Campbell went off on how people try so hard to get other to people to like them. Also a huge thing was how married is really important. In myths the husband usually cheats on his unspecting with so when Campbell brought that up it just makes you go wided eyed because the world today is a lot of cheating. Another part of the book was how to honour the mother in mythology the mother is earth the sky is a mother everything is a mother but now a days in religion we honour the father, so it just got me to think about the partriracle world today. In all I really enjoyed the book it was quite good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So. Much. Information. To. Process. Picking up The Power of Myth I definitely did not expect a 287 page interview between Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers but on the contrary it kept the information in its most pure form which I did in fact enjoy. I found myself not being able to read this for long periods of time, one I couldn't process the information fast enough and two it could not keep my attention due to it being in an interview format. After reading this book I continuously found myself referencing back to it in the books I had read and into my daily life. I acquired a much greater knowledge of myself, the world and how mythology has shaped many of the things we do in our daily lives. I can predict in about a year or so I will pick this book back up again and re-read it to find all the information and thought provoking ideas that I had missed out on the first time. I’m sorry to say but if what you’re expecting out of this book is a page turner that would deepen you’re knowledge of mythology, it’s probably not the book for you. If you still want the knowledge of what Joseph Campbell has to say you will manage to make it through this book and once you do expect your view on everything to drastically change.
Juliana1 More than 1 year ago
Can't we all just get along? This book tells us about the similarities between myths and religions of all places and times. It gets to the truth of the myths hiding behind the masks of culture and history. It is a collection of an interview series with Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell in the eighties, so it's in the format of a question and answer session-no, correction, it's more like a discussion. This book helps you to understand what lies at the heart of human experience. However Campbell seems to sneer at Christianity often. But if you are spiritual or religious, as I am, rather than undermining your faith it can enrich it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell is a fascinating and informative read. This book is an interview between Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers, so needless to say it can be dry and uninteresting at times. Most of the time however, it is very fascinating and causes a lot of thought about modern cultures relation to ancient myths from all over. Before reading this novel I was unaware of how much mythology influenced cultures all over the world even today. Campbell included information and basic myths from all types of cultures and proceed to explain how they influenced the world today. Another interesting thing to be learned from this book is that all myths will share similar themes weather they come from North America, Africa, or East Asia. The basic myths that appear in every culture demonstrate that people all over the world are essentially the same. To benefit from this book all that will be necessary is the will to think about all the different cultures and beliefs that inevitably sculpt today modern world. If while reading, one has an open mind to the maters being discussed it will be easier to comprehend all the myths being discussed. In a book such as this comprehension is a needed first step to finding enjoyment. Although at times The Power of Myth may prove to be uninteresting over all it is one of the most interesting, and enjoyable works of literature I have ever read. It can become uninteresting when Moyers and Campbell go into an excruciating amount of detail on one subject which would be better left at one paragraph tops. Taking the time to read this fascinating book proves to be inevitably worth it in every way imaginable. It is very informative and causes a great deal of thought on the mythological realm that is often ignored in American society.