Joseph Campbell: Top of the Pops

Times Magazine has just rated the (English?) world’s top 100 nonfiction books which stars Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” – which incidentally I’m currently devouring, in time for the JCF Mythological RoundTable, Aotearoa to be held at Le Chat Noir on 3 November at 7.30pm. Times says this about their collected titles with brilliance: “Politics and war, science and sports, memoir and biography — there’s a great big world of nonfiction books out there just waiting to be read. We picked the 100 best and most influential written in English since 1923, the beginning of TIME … magazine.” For the complete list of neighbouring titles: All Time 100 Best Nonfiction Books.

After google-ing 100 best nonfictions also holds Campbell’s title in their 100 top pops.

Susanna Schrobsdorff from Time Magazine reviews “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” as follows: “Since its publication in 1949, Joseph Campbell’s seminal work on the archetypal heroes and myths shared by world religions and traditions has focused countless artists and academics on our cultural commonalities rather than our differences. Legend has it that George Lucas used Campbell’s book as a foundation for his Star Wars trilogy. Harry Potter also closely hews to the classic hero’s journey that Campbell drew from ancient allegories in dozens of cultures and codified into one rollicking human epic, a universal saga that he referred to as the monomyth and that, he argued, sits deep in our subconscious, woven into all our rituals, from marriage to burial. A prolific author and editor, he believed that people need these superhuman figures because they are “the symbols that carry the human spirit forward.” But in a wistful last chapter, he noted that modernity has devalued this collective consciousness in favor of self-expression and a fragmented culture tilted toward science and economics. In his view, we are enriched and supported when we embrace the “oneness of the individual and the group.” Today that bond is frayed. “The lines of communication between the conscious and unconscious zones of the human psyche have all been cut,” Campbell wrote, “and we have been split in two.”

If this interests you, you may like to attend a Joseph Campbell Foundation (JCF) Mythological RoundTable near you. They’re currently running in America, Canada, Brazil, Holland and Germany and a group is about to start in Aotearoa (New Zealand). Alternatively you may like to start a Mythological RoundTable in your community.

“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell.


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