Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell #review

Title: The Hero with a Thousand Faces
Author: Joseph Campbell
Publisher: Princeton University Press, 1972

Most of the authors with whom I work end up with me telling them they should read this book. Granted, the last time I read Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces had been when I was in my late teens, so I figured now was a good a time as any to reacquaint myself with his work.

At the heart of all myths and legends, if I were to summarise Campbell’s book, lies one story, otherwise know as the Monomyth. In its most popular form, you’ll see it in episodes IV to VI of Star WarsGeorge Lucas was heavily influenced by Campbell.

It matters not which culture you look at, be it North American Hopi, ancient Celt, Greek, Hindu or Christian, for that matter, there are common elements present that speak to us profoundly.

This hero’s journey affects us on many levels, be it as a symbol of man’s (or woman’s) transformative journey and personal alchemy, or as in the case that I offer my authors – as a template of what makes for compelling storytelling.

This is a book that deserves a permanent place on any author’s storyteller’s shelf.

Campbell writes with warmth, great love and enthusiasm for his subject matter, drawing correspondences between different cultures with great ease and in a way that may forever alter how you perceive the stories, myths and legends that exist throughout the ages.

This is also the sort of book that you can return to time and again, in order to gain a fresh perspective to inspire you. You’ll gain an understanding that the stories that span ages and culture are timeless, and recur constantly in different guises. And I suspect that when I pick up this book in the future, I’ll find new messages that resonate with me.

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