Asian Journals: India and Japan

Asian Journals: India and Japan

by Joseph Campbell


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At the beginning of his career, Joseph Campbell developed a lasting fascination with the cultures of the Far East, and explorations of Buddhist and Hindu philosophy later became recurring motifs in his vast body of work. However, Campbell had to wait until middle age to visit the lands that inspired him so deeply. In 1954, he took a sabbatical from his teaching position and embarked on a yearlong voyage through India, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and finally Japan. Asian Journals combines the two hardcover editions of Campbell’s journals, Baksheesh & Brahman and Sake & Satori, into one paperback volume, an edited day-to-day travel diary of the people he met and the historical places he visited on his trek through Asia. Along the way, he enlivens the narrative with his musings on culture, religion, myth, and politics, describing both the trivial and the sublime. As always, Campbell’s keen intellect and boundless curiosity shine through in his lucid prose. From these pages, Campbell enthusiasts will come away with a deeper understanding of the man, his work, and his enduring legacy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781608685042
Publisher: New World Library
Publication date: 08/15/2017
Series: Collected Works of Joseph Campbell Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 768
Sales rank: 1,157,554
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

Joseph Campbell is widely credited with bringing mythology to a mass audience. His works, including The Hero with a Thousand Faces, the four-volume The Masks of God, and The Power of Myth (with Bill Moyers), rank among the classics in mythology and literature.

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Excerpt from Editor’s Foreword

The journal from which this book was fashioned comprised over a thou- sand pages in its original handwritten form. It was kept from 1954 to 1955, as Joseph Campbell traveled throughout India, Southeast Asia, and Japan. Later he would flirt with the idea of publishing it, though he never at- tempted it. Now, eight years after his death, this work will hold a central place in the Collected Works of Joseph Campbell, helping us to form a more complete evaluation of both the man and his work.

The journal appears at times to be a personal diary—as close as Campbell ever came to autobiography. In other places he seems to be keep- ing an intellectual notebook, grappling with the scholarly details of an Indian cave temple, or getting indigestion over the rampant anti- Americanism in the Indian tabloids. At times he wrestles with the difficul- ties of arranging a dance tour for his wife, Jean Erdman, throughout India; at others he notes his ambivalent reactions to meeting with a guru. In general, he records entries several times a week, with characteristic thor- oughness, perhaps in part for documentation of the details of his trip for the Bollingen Foundation, from whom he was continuing to receive grant support during this time; sometimes, obviously, as formulations related to future writing projects.

As editors we faced many choices; for example, of retaining or omit- ting what to some might seem obsessive rumination, and to others a fascinating scholarly detail. Our objective throughout has been to keep the reader moving right along with Campbell’s own explorations, encounters, and revelations. Wherever possible we have tried to add reference material to help identify people, places, events, and ideas that are significant else- where in Campbell’s life and work.

The present volume records Joseph Campbell’s encounter with India alone as he travels through the subcontinent; its sequel, beginning in early 1955 in Sri Lanka, follows his onward journey through Southeast Asia and Japan, and will be published separately under the title Sake & Satori. These volumes should be readily accessible to the general reader and require no prior reading of Campbell. Readers familiar with Campbell’s work will find these books especially fascinating for the glimpse they offer into the central period of his life and his intellectual development.

In the first half of his life, Joseph Campbell had not yet identified him- self as a comparative mythologist. In 1954 he had just turned fifty: time, perhaps, for a reevaluation of his life purpose, or a midlife crisis. In fact, it was to be a little of each. Often it is apparent from the outside that Campbell was the last one to see how his own experience was at work upon him. Some of the most painful conflicts he experienced led to the very in- sights and personal breakthroughs he sought. Today, with his biography completed and much of his work in print, we can see how Joseph Campbell’s approach to mythology emerged from this one seminal geo- graphical and psychological journey.

In order to understand the significance of this expedition more fully, we need to consider the evolution of Joseph Campbell’s romance with the East, which certainly constitutes one of the major foci of his scholarship. At the time of his trip to India, he was best known in many circles as the editor of Heinrich Zimmer’s works on Indian art and civilization. But much earlier biographical and intellectual events paved the way to Campbell’s midlife encounter with the Orient, which is the subject of this book....

Table of Contents

Baksheesh and Brahman Contents

About the Collected Works of Joseph Campbell

Editors’ Foreword

Notes on the Text


Chapter 1 Travels with Swami

New Delhi


From New Delhi to Calcutta




Chapter 2 Temples and Monuments

Bangalore and Mysore

Bombay and Aurangabad

Bombay to Bangalore and Back

Chapter 3 The Space-Platform


Ahmedabad and New Delhi

Chapter 4 Dance Tour with Jean Erdman




New Delhi

Chapter 5 A Guru and His Devotees

Cochin and Trivandrum


Appendix A: Hinduism

Appendix B: Chronological Chart of Indian Art



Chapter Notes



About the Author

About the Joseph Campbell Foundation

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