Long before medieval knights charged off to slay dragons, tales of heroic adventures were an integral part of all world cultures. Campbell challenges everyone to see the presence of a heroic journey in his or her own life.
"There is a typical hero sequence of actions which can be detected in stories from all over the world and from the many, many periods of history. It is essentially the one deed done by many, many different people. The hero or heroine is someone who has given his life to something bigger than himself or other than himself.... Losing yourself, giving yourself to another, that's a trial in itself, is it not? There is a big transformation of consciousness that's concerned. And what all the myths have to deal with is the transformation of consciousness--that you're thinking in this way, and you have now to think in that way." "Well, how is the consciousness transformed?" "By trials." "The tests that the hero undergoes?" "Tests or certain illuminating revelations. Trials and revelations are what it's all about."
Joseph Campbell was an American author and teacher best known for his work in the field of comparative mythology. He was born in New York City in 1904, and from early childhood he became interested in mythology. He loved to read books about American Indian cultures, and frequently visited the American Museum of Natural History in New York, where he was fascinated by the museum's collection of totem poles.
Campbell was educated at Columbia University, where he specialized in medieval literature, and continued his studies at universities in Paris and Munich. While abroad he was influenced by the art of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, the novels of James Joyce and Thomas Mann, and the psychological studies of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. These encounters led to Campbell's theory that all myths and epics are linked in the human psyche, and that they are cultural manifestations of the universal need to explain social, cosmological, and spiritual realities.
After a period in California, where he encountered John Steinbeck and the biologist Ed Ricketts, he taught at the Canterbury School, and then, in 1934, joined the literature department at Sarah Lawrence College, a post he retained for many years. During the 40s and '50s, he helped Swami Nikhilananda to translate the Upanishads and The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. He also edited works by the German scholar Heinrich Zimmer on Indian art, myths, and philosophy. In 1944, with Henry Morton Robinson, Campbell published A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake. His first original work, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, came out in 1949 and was immediately well received; in time, it became acclaimed as a classic. In this study of the "myth of the hero," Campbell asserted that there is a single pattern of heroic journey and that all cultures share this essential pattern in their various heroic myths. In his book he also outlined the basic conditions, stages, and results of the archetypal hero's journey.
Throughout his life, he traveled extensively and wrote prolifically, authoring many books, including the four-volume series The Masks of God, Myths to Live By, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space and The Historical Atlas of World Mythology. Joseph Campbell died in 1987. In 1988, a series of television interviews with Bill Moyers, The Power of Myth, introduced Campbell's views to millions of people.
This was better when I was in high school, and it doesn't hold up well to a re-listening as an adult. Campbell and Moyers' pop folklore is entertaining, but doesn't hold up to scrutiny. Campbell's content to skim the surface, but if a particular culture's myth/origin story doesn't fit with his Jung-lite interpretation, he just doesn't deal with it. Oh well, glad I came back to it, glad I decided to stop listening halfway through.
For what it was worth this was pretty good. It is based between multiple interviews by Joseph Campbell in which deal with myths and history in the human race and modern reality in addition to the hero/heroine journey in literature in which is incorporated in films. I probably would have enjoyed it a little more in high school but that all depends on everyone’s key of interest.