In the long run, the most influential book of the 20th Century may turn out to be Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces. It’s certainly true that the book is having a major impact on writing and story-telling, but above all on movie-making. Aware or not, filmmakers like John Boorman, George Miller, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Francis Ford Coppola owe their successes to the ageless pattern that Joseph Campbell identifies in the book. The ideas in the book are an excellent set of analytical tools.
There’s nothing new in the book. The ideas in it are older than the Pyramids, older than Stonehenge, older than the earliest cave painting… older than dirt. Campbell’s contribution was to gather the ideas together, recognize them, articulate them, name them. He exposed the pattern for the first time, the pattern that lies behind every story ever told…
If you want to understand the ideas behind the hero myth, there’s no substitute for actually reading the book. It’s an experience that has a way of changing people. It’s also a good idea to read a lot of myths, but it amounts to the same thing since Campbell spends most of the book illustrating his point by re-telling old myths.
Download PDF here.