Joseph Campbell: beginning at the library

August 20, 2019 | By Jim Stovall | Filed in: journalism.

If you have studied anything about the art of  — storytelling — you have run headlong into the name and work of Joseph Campbell.

Campbell made the study of stories, their structure, and their purpose the focus of his life, and his 1949 book, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, is still considered a seminal work in this field. Campbell compares the mythology norms across times and cultures in a fascinating and readable study.

Campbell started where many of us do: in a local library. On the 100th anniversary of Campbell’s birth, Robert Walter wrote this:

By the age of ten, Joe had read every book on American Indians in the children’s section of his local library and was admitted to the adult stacks, where he eventually read the entire multivolume Reports of the Bureau of American Ethnology. He worked on wampum belts, started his own “tribe” (named the “Lenni-Lenape” after the Delaware tribe who had originally inhabited the New York metropolitan area), and frequented the American Museum of Natural History, where he became fascinated with totem poles and masks, thus beginning a lifelong exploration of that museum’s vast collection. Source: About Joseph Campbell – JCF: Home

Campbell achieved fame and influence not just from his books but also from his public speaking, and many of his mini-lectures are here on Spotify (you will need a free account):

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