I don’t usually post reviews here, but Joseph Campbell and his luminous learning and erudition continue to stun me even after my years as a graduate student–and that’s a long time ago. He inspired my master’s thesis, “Emily Dickinson and the Christ Myth,” an exercise that almost blew every circuit and fuse I had at the time.
Looking back, I feel it was inadequate to what I wanted to say, but that’s what Campbell’s vast humanities reference repository will do to a nascent humanities scholar.
Sheer accident and impulse in my choice of books last night prompted this. But perhaps not. There are really no accidents in this ever evolving universe and we are only of passing interest to future scholars, I’m convinced (which means something, but I don’t know what; the deity will decide).
My blurt and yelp after my most recent exposure to this masterpiece (on Amazon):
“I re-read this last night, my highlighted passages, the first volume in Campbell’s 4 vol magnum opus, THE MASKS OF GOD, and it curled my toes and made my hair stand on end again! It is overwhelming in it’s erudition, gripping in its shocking detail of where we came from and how our beliefs and values today emerged over so many millennia. I don’t recommend it for validation of your “religious” beliefs if they are rigid and dogmatic, but if you want to know where they came from and how we got to where we are today, and are a brave soul, you must read it.
“All of the volumes in THE MASKS OF GOD are brilliant and enlightening. But this, the first, will launch you on a fascinating quest to understand better what it means to be ‘human.’ I don’t see how any truly educated person can escape the knowledge and wisdom in Campbell’s works on myth.'”
“Myth” does not mean falsehood in the context of the humanities, but refers to the numinous archetypes the underlie everything we think, do or say.