THE MYTHIC DIMENSION
Selected Essays 1959-1987
by Joseph Campbell
New World Library, 2017
Hardcover. 348 pages. $18.35CAD
Paperback. 348 pages. $24.26CAD
(second paperback edition just released, March, 2017)
These 12 eclectic essays explore myth and its fascinating context
in the human imagination – in the arts, literature, and culture, as
well as in everyday life.
The most recent title in New World Library’s Collected Works of
Joseph Campbell 11-volume series, this new paperback edition
features pieces that exhibit Campbell’s trademark thoughtfulness
and intelligence. These essays explore the topic for which Campbell
was best known: the many connections between myth and history,
psychology, and the daily world. Drawing from such varied sources
as Thomas Mann, the occult, Jungian and Freudian theory, and the
Grateful Dead, these dynamic writings elucidate the many ways in
which myth touches our lives, our psyches, and our relationship to
This second volume of Campbell’s essays (followingThe Flight of the
Wild Gander) brings together his uncollected writings from 1959 to 1987.
Written at the height of Campbell’s career – and showcasing
the lively intelligence that made him the twentieth century’s premier
writer on mythology – these essays investigate the profound links
between myth, the individual, and societies ancient and contemporary.
“Campbell has become one of the rarest of intellectuals in American
life: a serious thinker who has been embraced by the popular culture.”
“No one in our century—not Freud, not Thomas Mann, not Lévi-Strauss—has so brought the mythical sense of the world and its eternal figures back into our everyday consciousness.”
— James Hillman
“In our generation the mythographer who has had the fullest command of the huge scholarly literature, the analytic ability, the lucid prose, and the needed staying power has been Joseph Campbell.”
Joseph Campbell’s Words:
“Accordingly the vision and the visionary, though apparently separate, are one; and all the heavens, all the hells, all the gods and demons, all the figures of the mythic worlds, are within us as portions of ourselves – portions, that is to say, that are of our deepest, primary nature, and thus of our share in nature. They are out there as well as in here, yet, in this field of consciousness, without separation. Our personal dreams are our personal guides, therefore, to the ranges of myth and of the gods. Dreams are our personal myths; myths, the general dream.”
— from The Mythic Dimension
Joseph Campbell Bio:
John Campbell (1904-1987) wrote, among other works, the classics The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Inner Reaches of Outer Space, and The Masks of God. A prolific writer, lecturer, and scholar of art, history, religion, and culture, he taught at Sarah Lawrence College.
(extensive Wikipedia bio): http://tinyurl.com/l9krkbu
From 1959 until his death in 1987, Joseph Campbell wrote three
major works – “The Masks of God” “The Historical Atlas of World
Mythology” and “The Mythic Image”. These books were not just
books about mythology; they were books about all mythology,
or large-scale attempts to comprehend the religious expression
of the human species.
In them, Campbell introduced many facts, stories, images, and
ideas to serve his larger argument, only to let them go after they
had served their purpose… During these most productive years
of his career, however, Campbell did write about much of the
material that he only touched on in his major works. He lectured
prodigiously and wrote numerous essays that were either early
explorations or of mature reflections upon material that appeared
in his larger ventures. These essays were published in small-
circulation magazines and journals, or in introductions to chapters
in others’ books. The best of them are collected (in this book.)
(Campbell writes about the historical development of mythology
and the mythological themes dating from early times that inform
our lives today. This book contains many of those foundational
essays linking his major themes to inform us of how myth addresses
the universal concerns of human consciousness)…
(These essays help to tie together the themes of his major works,
as he wrote during the height of his powers and then during the
period of his life when he sought to integrate and emphasise the
key learnings of his unusual career.)
Review by Dr. Wayne Holst
Joseph Campbell was a prolific and profound writer who was
always venturing into new subjects, then integrating what he
discovered into his earlier understandings.
This book is a reflection on the integrational aspect of his teaching,
and continues to stand out as new generations become aware
of his significant contribution to human understandings.
A review of the thematic contents page of this book reminds us
of the breadth of his learning and the way he continued to weave
new discoveries with older understandings.
In the first part of this book he writes of the expanding nature of
comparative mythology across global cultures; the historical development
of mythology, rituals that emerge from myths; and the goddess theme in myths.
In the second part of this book, he writes of mythology and the
arts – and of how myths are communicated verbally and symbolically.
His ability to understand this theme through creative literature
and art can help us to understand how myth is so much part
of the world of the arts in every era. He not only deals with myths
of the past, in other words, but with how myths continue to
be reconstituted in every era of human history, including our own.
The book contains an excellent index of themes appearing here,
and an extensive list of his writings.
The new paperback edition, just published, is an indication of
the timeliness and continuing appeal of Joseph Campbell for
new readers as well as veterans returning for another drink
from the well of one of the twentieth century’s great minds.
Buy the book from Amazon.ca:
Dr. Wayne Holst teaches religion and culture at the University of Calgary and helps to co-ordinate Adult Spiritual Development at St. David’s United Church in that city. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Colleagues List, Vol. XII. No. 30, April 30, 2017
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