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I've got half way through this and am returning it. I am obviously aware that this work is treated with great reverence (it was allegedly an inspiration for Star Wars after all!).
I'm afraid that I just find it a triumph of over generalisation and reductionism. Campbell knits together the worlds mythologies and the stories therein are interesting and pleasant to listen to; it is the connecting material that is sadly lacking.
For Campbell, it seems, mythology and religion are to be conflated. The difference is that the former is directed at a local audience whereas the latter is a mythology for everyone.
After making this dodgy reductionist move the field is open for Campbell to further reduce and over generalise everything he can find to fit into a single monomyth about the hero.
The superficial similarities of many stories worldwide is further to be analysed in terms of rights of passage, Freudian and Jungian themes. This type of psychoanalytic analysis (something that I am not amenable to) dates the book.
What really had me choking on my cornflakes however was the chapter on Buddhism. Not withstanding some questionable translations, Campbell grossly mischaracterises it, trots out the Heart Sutra as if he has the first clue what it means (I think we can safely conclude that he has not himself transcended subject-object duality), and then proceeds to conflate every duality he can lay his hands on. It's utterly meaningless garbage.
Enough was enough for me at this point. It is great that Audible allows you to return books.
8 of 11 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
This is of course a classic, valued by artists, novelists and humanities-lovers for decades. Interesting note: George Lucas and Star Wars were heavily influences by this book.
Outside of religious scripture, this is one of the most meaningful and thought-provoking books I've read. Drawing on archetypes - deep universal constructs in our human psyche - Campbell explains how we are all on (or could be on) a meaningful heroic journey.
This book was written when the ideas of Freud and Jung were all the rage. Freud has not aged too well. But Jung had a lot of intuition about the human soul that still resonates.
Campbell includes many fascinating accounts of dreams and world myths. "Myth" in this sense means a story with meaningful symbols that convey universal insights, as well as teaching the values of the culture in which the myth originated. Jung and Freud believed that dreams and myths contain subconscious truths.
I've owned the hard copy for years but found it difficult reading. I don't think Campbell was a great writer. But his ideas are mind-blowing. In audio-book form I have finally been able to enjoy this book. I highly recommend it.
74 of 76 people found this review helpful
This is a book I have been meaning to read for years. Literally. And now I have finally learned what all the fuss is about. Campbell takes the reader/listener on an intellectual journey showing the common themes, characters, and events (plot developments?) to the myths of the world. This is an awesome feat and in no way should be seen as denigrating the beauty and power of the world's mythologies and religious traditions. Campbell was an intellectual of the first order and he makes his enthusiasm for the subject a contagious thing. Now I see why this book had such a profound impact on George Lucas and how he drew so heavily on it in constructing his Star Wars mythos (and since I am writing this on Star Wars day--May the Fourth be with you all!). Loved this book and will look for more titles by Campbell and other writers about the ideas in this classic.
22 of 23 people found this review helpful