The Power of Myth

The Power of Myth

by Joseph Campbell, Bill Moyers (With)

Paperback(Reissue)

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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.  

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385418867
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/01/1991
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 36,340
Product dimensions: 5.12(w) x 7.99(h) x 0.66(d)

About 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. 65 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.
KReeseKR More than 1 year ago
This book is written in interview style.The questions are good and the answers are fantastic. We can all learn a lot from Myths... great book if you want to expand your knowledge.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If i could choose only a dozen books to be stranded on a desert island with, this would be one of them. the most intelligent, concise, comprehensive and enjoyable (colorfully pictured) treatise on belief systems on the planet!
Anonymous More than 1 year 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.
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.
Osorio on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When you read The Power of Myth you will better understand humanity past and present and you will better understand yourself. Written as a conversation between Campbell and Moyer, you can follow the exploration of myth through many different topics and threads of conversation. Rather than a polished piece of scholarship, it's more like a stroll through Campbell's mind and his lifetime of looking at human experience through the lens of myth. I recommend it to anyone who is searching for meaning and knows that finding it only requires searching.
Niecierpek on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's a series of interviews Campbell gave to Bill Moyers on the nature and power of myth taped over two years, with the last one done a few months before his death . In a format of questions and answersCampbell examines common myths that transcend cultures and human conditions: on the hero, the nature of myth, storytelling, the goddess, and finally what we understand of eternity. His thoughts arevery insightful and show both immense knowledge of the subject matter and an amazing ability to both analyze and synthesize. He is at an equal ease citing from Greek and Western philosophers, Old and NewTestament, Eastern ancient texts, and various aboriginal cultural tradition. He spices it all up with stories and myths which he retells with great skill.Wonderful stuff. I'll be reading more of him.
kaulsu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Six tapes dealing with myths of all cultures, particularly Native American and Hindu.
DubiousDisciple on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Why do we need our folk tales, anyway? Why can't our religious icons be accepted at face value, instead of lifting them up higher than life? How do phrases like "Son of God" spring so easily and meaningfully from our lips? Why must we idolize our heroes, why do we embrace our rituals?Journalist Bill Moyers interviews Joseph Campbell to learn why mythology is so important to us. This is sort of a compilation of Campbell's work. Says Campbell, mythology is the "song of the universe, the music of the spheres." It is what turns each little cluster of believers, with their own heritage, into the world's Chosen People. From Dante's Divine Comedy to Native American rituals, Campbell has plenty of opinions. He's an intellectual who is simply fun to read...he's got a way of just making sense, like a sort of Feynman for philosophers, that leaves you feeling like maybe you finally understand something.This isn't a new book, but it's one of those must-reads that we shouldn't forget. I don't think Campbell means to trivialize religion, culture or customs; rather, I dare say, you might even find God in these pages.
ngabriel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Changes the way you view stories and story-telling.
PamelaDLloyd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An amazing book. Despite the obvious level of intelligence and knowledge demonstrated by Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell, it's very readable and made me feel that I was witness to a conversation--as, in many ways, I was, since the book is based upon their taped interviews.While there were points that I felt Campbell spoke with too much certainty, it's difficult to criticize him due to the extraordinary breadth and depth of his knowledge, which certainly outstrips mine. Far more often, however, my response was one of recognition, accompanied sometimes by a sense of agreement, other times by thoughtful contemplation of something new or profound.I enjoyed reading this very much and will probably read it again; I also hope to watch the taped interviews some day.
libraryclerk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Could not finish it. Got through the first section with difficulty and decided not to finish. I think it was the format of it being a dialogue from the televised series.
drbubbles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this over the course of about 4 weeks, so I've lost my sense of the early chapters and thus can't fairly discuss it as a unified whole. In any case, the fact that it was (according to the introduction) cobbled together from 24 hours' worth of interview means the book isn't really an organically unified whole anyway. That said, there are bits and pieces through all of the chapters that I thought particularly interesting, ideas expressed particularly clearly or (in the case of ideas new to me) even at all. I don't agree with everything, but the shape of Campbell's ideas seems fairly well articulated.Many of the examples are similar to those Campbell adduced in The Inner Reaches of Outer Space, so nothing new there.
DieFledermaus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is a transcription of a wide-ranging interview between Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell. They discuss all sorts of myths and rituals - worldwide, past and present (even, famously, Star Wars) ¿ and their meaning and relevance to modern-day life. While Campbell is unsurprisingly erudite with piles of interesting stories, there was too much jumping around for my taste. The book is loosely divided into chapters with a guiding topic but the pair tends to go off on tangents. The myths that Campbell describes are interesting ¿ I did like his narration. However, because it¿s a discussion, he often only adds a quick aside of what the myth meant or how it relates to something they¿ve been talking about. Other times he talks about the meaning in rather opaque, abstract terms. I thought the best parts were the extended discussions of a theme ¿ hunting myths vs agricultural myths or the chapter on the hero¿s journey. I had to read this pretty quickly as it had to go back to the library so this may have interfered with my enjoyment of the book. Most of the time I didn¿t feel like I really wanted to read it though it was interesting enough while I was reading. Also, it irritated me that Campbell repeatedly attributes gangs, drugs and alcohol to the fact that myths are no longer as influential as they once were. He says this in a very simplistic, cause-and-effect way and Moyers never contradicts him. However, I have heard that Campbell should be taken with a grain of salt. There was enough of interest here that I bought Hero with a Thousand Faces.
hrissliss on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The transcript from the PBS (I think) special, basically. Organized into six parts, each with its own broad focus, eg the Hero's Adventure.I found this to be a very significant work; it addressed certain issues I, as a proto-adult (read: teenager) have been confronting. Such as the lack of a coming-of-age ritual in order to demonstrate that the individual has become an adult. They also talk about our modern lack of mythology, and how it has affected modern mankind. Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers are obviously very intelligent, well read, thoughtful individuals, and it comes through in a stupendous way in their discussion of myth and myth's psychological and sociological significance. Of course, since it's only roughly structured, many of the issues discussed are rehashed several times, though in slightly different contexts. Sometimes, it seems as if they're giving myth a somewhat inflated weight, but generally I found their observations to be accurate. Highly recommend for anyone interested in mythology, as it's very accessible and has enough theory to keep it from sinple myth-retellings. 8/10
tloeffler on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love what Joseph Campbell has to say, but the interview style of the book was distracting.
lool on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fascinating travel in the realm of Myth, which as revealed by this professor in comparative mythology, is recurrent through time and space. Myths, a roadmap for those ready for an inner journey.
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.