A paperback edition of Campbell's major study of the mythology of the world's high civilizations over five millennia. It includes nearly 450 illustrations. The text is the same as that of the 1974 edition.
Mythologist Joseph Campbell was a masterful storyteller, able to weave tales from every corner of the world into compelling, even spellbinding, narratives. His interest in comparative mythology began in childhood, when the young Joe Campbell was taken to see Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show at Madison Square Garden. He started writing articles on Native American mythology in high school, and the parallels between age-old myths and the mythic themes in literature and dreams became a lifelong preoccupation. Campbell's best-known work is "The Hero with a Thousand Faces" (1949), which became a "New York Times" paperback best-seller for Princeton in 1988 after Campbell's star turn on the Bill Moyers television program "The Power of Myth."
During his early years as a professor of comparative religion at Sarah Lawrence College, Campbell made the acquaintance of Indologist Heinrich Zimmer, a kindred spirit who introduced him to Paul and Mary Mellon, the founders of Bollingen Series. They chose Campbell's "The Mythic Image" as the culmination of the series, giving it the closing position--number one hundred. A lavishly illustrated and beautifully produced study of the mythology of the world's high civilizations, "The Mythic Image" received a front-cover review in the "New York Times Book Review" upon publication. Through the medium of visual art, the book explores the relation of dreams to myth and demonstrates the important differences between oriental and occidental interpretations of dreams and life.
This is a beautifully mounted and exquisitely illustrated, learned expedition through the worlds of myth and dream. "Imagery, especially the imagery of dreams, is the basis of mythology." The illustrations range from Michelangelo and Blake to Van Gogh and Jackson Pollock; many of the photographs are in color and all are striking. The underlying psychology is Jungian, the Oriental discipline accompanying it is that of Yoga, and the intellectual conception throughout focuses on the interleaving of the nonliterate or primitive traditions with the highly literate and convoluted traditions of Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. Joseph Campbell's concern with comparative religions has always been weighted in favor of the mystical elements inherent in any creed rather than the ethical or social values which are also a part of religious formulations. His mammoth Mythic Image naturally follows this familiar trajectory. The book is dazzling but frankly a bit difficult to follow if not to grasp. It has an air of academic psychedelia. Everything is forever flowing into everything else: the Gospel account of the Last Supper is related to the last meal of Buddha, a few lines from Wordsworth are juxtaposed against lines from the Chhandogya Upanishad. Or everything is being balanced by some opposite: "male and female, active and contemplative, light and dark." And there are so many variations on the theme of "unity in duality," so much talk of gods and fertility cults, cosmic wheels and cosmological views, the four elements and the four seasons, that the reader is soon lost in reverie. Not surprisingly, the most interesting writing doesn't come from Campbell at all, but is to be found in a long extract he presents from Captain Cook's eyewitness account of a bloody sacrifice in the South Seas. Much thought and preparation went into this laudable undertaking; unfortunately it never quite reaches the level of significance its subject warrants. (Kirkus Reviews)