As relevant today as when it was first published, The Hero with a Thousand Faces continues to find new audiences in fields ranging from religion and anthropology to literature and film studies. The book has also profoundly influenced creative artists - including authors, songwriters, game designers, and filmmakers - and continues to inspire all those interested in the inherent human need to tell stories.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Nik Jewell on 01-10-17
A triumph of over generalisation and reductionism
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.
12 of 19 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Learner on 09-02-16
Meaningful and thought-provoking
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.
86 of 89 people found this review helpful
By Amazon Customer on 03-11-16
Very good if hungry for more Campbell
Where does The Hero with a Thousand Faces rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
This is an earlier work of Campbell, but not at all where I would start. Start with The Power of Myth and The Wisdom of Joseph Campbell and hear Campbell in his own voice. Much clearer and much greater impact. They are much more accessible, and once hear Campbell in his own voice you'll much more easily be able to access his more scholarly works and you'll also be more forgiving of the passionless, reading of Arthur Morey. The reader was a real miss on this one. But the deeper exploration on myth is fantastic.
37 of 39 people found this review helpful