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The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Length: 14 hrs and 37 mins
4 out of 5 stars (97 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Since its release in 1949, The Hero with a Thousand Faces has influenced millions of readers by combining the insights of modern psychology with Joseph Campbell's revolutionary understanding of comparative mythology. In this book, Campbell outlines the Hero's Journey, a universal motif of adventure and transformation that runs through virtually all of the world's mythic traditions. He also explores the Cosmogonic Cycle, the mythic pattern of world creation and destruction.

As relevant today as when it was first published, The Hero with a Thousand Faces continues to find new audiences in fields ranging from religion and anthropology to literature and film studies. The book has also profoundly influenced creative artists - including authors, songwriters, game designers, and filmmakers - and continues to inspire all those interested in the inherent human need to tell stories.

©2008 Third edition (with revisions) © 2008 by the Joseph Campbell Foundation (jcf.org). (P)2015 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved. Second edition (with revisions) © 1968 by Princeton University Press. Original edition © 1949 by Bollingen Foundation and published by Pantheon Books.

Critic Reviews

"Arthur Morey, John Lee, and Susan Denaker are an adept and experienced performance team. The way they trade voices adds texture to the complex compendium of stories." ( AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Every writer should read this.

Great book on the structure of stories. It's written in the dense style of the early 20th century so it can be needlessly wordy in parts but it's worth the slog.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Doesn’t translate into audio as you’d expect.

There needs to be an effort to edit this book so that it can be more easily understood in an audio format. For example, how do you translate italics into audio? With a text like this, much of the meaning-values are expressed in layout, the use of headings, and nuanced written convention. These sorts of writing elements do not translate well into audio. It makes understanding the text far more difficult. There is no explanation, for example, as to why there are different narrators or why the narration is changing. The text just suddenly veers or lurches to a different narrator and there seems little logical reason given to the reader as to why this is occurring. It makes it difficult to follow. This is a shame because there is so much wonderful writing in this book. There are brilliant ideas and observations that can only be teased out through a careful and concerted reading of the clumsy production. The work of Joseph Campbell needs to be made more accessible and more widely known. This text may have begun with a sincere effort to achieve this aim, but it has failed because of generally hackneyed production values.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Reads like a church sermon, just as useful

A collage of random useless opinions about endless stories, that don’t even seem to match the stories, and you have this book. Give it a skip and read Maps of Meaning instead. It does a far better job of explaining myths, as well as communicating the hero archetype, among dozens of others.

5 of 9 people found this review helpful

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professional but badly cast narrators

source material is out of this world good but the choice of narrators is very odd, the primary has a raspy voice and flat tone which is not engaging at all and the secondary man and woman both spoke as if they were performing shakespear 200 years ago, which is distracting and not conducive to learning or enjoyment.

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Grateful

Thank god, source, the cosmos for manifesting this man. And for his courage to cut his own path through the Amazon of life. what a hero.

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AHHH...MAZ...ING!!!!

If you want to develop a greater understanding of human nature and the history of the world then this is definitely the book for you but be warned as it’s not for the feint of heart as it’s very deep, incredibly profound & full of meaning, there is nothing superficial here. Highly recommended. 👍🏼👍🏼 #LifeChanging

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  • Learner
  • 09-02-2016

Meaningful and thought-provoking

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This is of course a classic, valued by artists, novelists and humanities-lovers for decades. Interesting note: George Lucas and Star Wars were heavily influences by this book.

Outside of religious scripture, this is one of the most meaningful and thought-provoking books I've read. Drawing on archetypes - deep universal constructs in our human psyche - Campbell explains how we are all on (or could be on) a meaningful heroic journey.

This book was written when the ideas of Freud and Jung were all the rage. Freud has not aged too well. But Jung had a lot of intuition about the human soul that still resonates.

Campbell includes many fascinating accounts of dreams and world myths. "Myth" in this sense means a story with meaningful symbols that convey universal insights, as well as teaching the values of the culture in which the myth originated. Jung and Freud believed that dreams and myths contain subconscious truths.

I've owned the hard copy for years but found it difficult reading. I don't think Campbell was a great writer. But his ideas are mind-blowing. In audio-book form I have finally been able to enjoy this book. I highly recommend it.

109 of 114 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-11-2016

Very good if hungry for more Campbell

Where does The Hero with a Thousand Faces rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is an earlier work of Campbell, but not at all where I would start. Start with The Power of Myth and The Wisdom of Joseph Campbell and hear Campbell in his own voice. Much clearer and much greater impact. They are much more accessible, and once hear Campbell in his own voice you'll much more easily be able to access his more scholarly works and you'll also be more forgiving of the passionless, reading of Arthur Morey. The reader was a real miss on this one. But the deeper exploration on myth is fantastic.

82 of 86 people found this review helpful

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  • DBruno1987
  • 25-10-2016

Hard to finish

I love the ideas that Joseph Campbell has given us in his career. I just don't think this book is a concise enough presentation of those ideas. I listen to lots of different audio books while driving, and many are very engaging. This one just wasn't... I could never follow what was being presented, and it seemed all over the place. I don't think the material was "over my head," I just think I got bored listening to it. Often times the quotes from the myths and stories read by the female and the british narrators were just thrown in without introduction or explanation. I would occasionally hear an idea that resonated with me, where I'd think "ohhh cool!" But that happened only once in a while, in the middle of a sea or drawn out boring narration.

Sorry, love JC, but not this audiobook:

47 of 49 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-05-2017

The Connections between the Myths

This is a book I have been meaning to read for years. Literally. And now I have finally learned what all the fuss is about. Campbell takes the reader/listener on an intellectual journey showing the common themes, characters, and events (plot developments?) to the myths of the world. This is an awesome feat and in no way should be seen as denigrating the beauty and power of the world's mythologies and religious traditions. Campbell was an intellectual of the first order and he makes his enthusiasm for the subject a contagious thing. Now I see why this book had such a profound impact on George Lucas and how he drew so heavily on it in constructing his Star Wars mythos (and since I am writing this on Star Wars day--May the Fourth be with you all!). Loved this book and will look for more titles by Campbell and other writers about the ideas in this classic.

26 of 29 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael J. Stewart
  • 25-09-2017

A test to see how bad you want answers

The test is in the form of the main narrator. He’s slow in reading every word and very dull. Then again this is not for those who wish to be entertained, but for those who are seeking clarity on the origins of their belief system and to have their mind opened to the fact that all religions and mythology are seeking to describe that which is eternal in ways that allow us to grasp in a very small measure the nature of all that was, all that is, and all that will be.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful

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  • Jason Cook
  • 21-12-2017

good book, though tougher to follow on audio forma

would suggest you get the physical book, great stories and context to patterns across all cultures

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • See Reverse
  • 29-09-2018

The Listener with a Thousand Pauses

I love stories, and having heard this book mentioned in a number of other books I decided to dive in and experience it for myself. I'm not sure what I expected of this book, but I was expecting some sort of "greatness" from it. While I'll agree that this is a thoughtful, and thorough treatment of the art of storytelling, and the commonality of stories across cultures, I'm not sure it's worth listening to unless you're really deep into understanding stories over time. Listening to this book required frequent pauses, both so I could understand and appreciate, and so that I could rest. This book has the feel of a 14 hour lecture, taught day after day in a dark lecture hall by a bland lecturer. I'll admit that this was probably the style back in 1949 when this book was written, but for most listeners I think you're better suited with something derived from this master work than with this original.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Dorota
  • 10-10-2016

Brilliant

This is truly an amazing work. It is beautifully performed, though, unfortunately, the use of narrators with differing intonation, strong accent, and old-style pronunciation, sometimes makes the audio difficult to understand.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Summers McKay
  • 11-10-2016

rough narration good content

it was disappointing that such rich material was a bit like listening to paint dry. I really did not enjoy this production.

14 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Scott Monson
  • 05-07-2016

I could listen to this a 1000 times...

I would have to listen to this audio presentation a 1000 time to grasp the depth of this material.
Yet, I feel as if I have accomplished something getting through it once.
My gray matter is on fire. 😀🔥😀

13 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Dog in a Flat Cap
  • 02-03-2018

Narration problems

I’m not sure who decided on this narrator but he’s not well suited to this type of writing! I can imagine he’d be good narrating a thriller, not something of academic significance. It’s off putting, and the footnotes supplied by additional voices is also confusing to listen to. The whole thing only becomes clear when I’ve got the book on hand, as it can otherwise seem like a lot of semi coherent rambling and non-sequiturs. The overwhelming sense I get while listening to this is that the narrator is just speaking words and has no idea what any of them mean.

The book itself is a classic!

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Benjol
  • 17-05-2019

Confusing performance

Right to the end, I failed to understand the logic of who was narrating what.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Nik Jewell
  • 01-10-2017

A triumph of over generalisation and reductionism

I've got half way through this and am returning it. I am obviously aware that this work is treated with great reverence (it was allegedly an inspiration for Star Wars after all!).

I'm afraid that I just find it a triumph of over generalisation and reductionism. Campbell knits together the worlds mythologies and the stories therein are interesting and pleasant to listen to; it is the connecting material that is sadly lacking.

For Campbell, it seems, mythology and religion are to be conflated. The difference is that the former is directed at a local audience whereas the latter is a mythology for everyone.

After making this dodgy reductionist move the field is open for Campbell to further reduce and over generalise everything he can find to fit into a single monomyth about the hero.

The superficial similarities of many stories worldwide is further to be analysed in terms of rights of passage, Freudian and Jungian themes. This type of psychoanalytic analysis (something that I am not amenable to) dates the book.

What really had me choking on my cornflakes however was the chapter on Buddhism. Not withstanding some questionable translations, Campbell grossly mischaracterises it, trots out the Heart Sutra as if he has the first clue what it means (I think we can safely conclude that he has not himself transcended subject-object duality), and then proceeds to conflate every duality he can lay his hands on. It's utterly meaningless garbage.

Enough was enough for me at this point. It is great that Audible allows you to return books.

71 of 97 people found this review helpful

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  • T. Noonan
  • 20-06-2018

Great audiobook

I loved it but please learn how to pronounce Oisin. Was painful to hear it pronounced so poorly. Actually all the Irish is pronounced terribly.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • EarthToOlu
  • 03-06-2019

Great content. Depressing Narration.

The narrator sounded bored with life.

The overarching thesis that the human psyche is the same across cultures and can be analogized in the myths and legends that have persisted in these different places and times should inspire life not drudgery.

I'm referring to the main narrator. Somehow the others were much better. They had pep.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr Edward P
  • 26-05-2019

Awful narration

Dreadful. Narrator repeatedly changes throughout the recording for no apparent reason, disrupting the tone and making it near impossible to focus on the content. Audio level is inconsistent. Does not do any justice to Campbell’s work. Avoid.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr Ben Bland
  • 24-01-2019

As Inspiring as it is Instructive

I made tons of notes about the common themes of Campbell's 'mono-myth' running through much of the world's cultures. These all lend to a sense of clarity in how to frame my stories, interpret other's, and apply the deep insights of mythology to my life.

But this book was also uplifting. Campbell didn't shy from preaching the great lessons of our heroes to encourage us to be the best we can. And it's effective.

Written in the Forties, the book pours uncomfortable credit on the psychoanalysts, with what I think modern psychologists would consider to be somewhat archaic theories. But this is soon stitched more subtly into the fabric of what I found in the end to be a powerful and timeless read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • R-the Relentless
  • 25-08-2017

Brilliant! super informative and expertly narrated

loved it- wonderful narration and beautiful context and content. very educational, entertaining and intellectually comprehensive.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • GVLoves
  • 18-10-2016

I think I am going to need to listen again...

This book has inspired works and research that I admire, that's why I decided to listed to it.

It's written in a language that is a little inaccessible (perhaps because it's older).

The different narrators are good in of themselves but the devision between them confuses me. What I mean is that it is not intuitively clear to me why one voice is narrating at any specific point.

I gave it the rating I did because although it confused me a little I think that a second listen might clarify the message in the work. It may be that this text needs to be read with a purpose as opposed to an 'easy' listening book.

12 of 22 people found this review helpful

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  • Oliver Bliss
  • 30-11-2019

If you want to write a descent story read this book

Anyone who wants to understand the foundations of a memorable story should read this. It’s full of insights across time and location providing a rich and varied range of examples of the similarities and differences between myths and legends.