Hero's Journey: The Short Version?
March 27, 2006 8:27 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a book not by Joseph Campbell, but interpreting his works. It outlined the steps of the "hero's journey" and identified the archetypes. It leaned heavily on the Odyssey, Star Wars and the Wizard of Oz as examples of Campbell's model. Does anyone know the name of the book?
posted by scaryblackdeath to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Despite flying in the face of "not by Joseph Campbell," that sounds like the first couple chapters of The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
posted by soma lkzx at 8:30 AM on March 27, 2006

The Writer's Journey, by Christopher Vogler.

It's a very heavy-handed interpretation, and I personally hated it, but there you go.
posted by graymouser at 8:31 AM on March 27, 2006

Could it be The Power of Myth? Companion book to the PBS series of the same name.
posted by contessa at 8:57 AM on March 27, 2006

Not what you requested, but you should also read Cosmos and History: The Myth of the Eternal Return, by Mircea Eliade, to see from whence Campbell cribbed many of his ideas (IMHO). Both men appear to have been rather unpleasant people (Campbell a bullying anti-Semite, though this is disputed, and Eliade a quiet supporter of Romanian fascists). Wonder if that comes with the territory.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:13 AM on March 27, 2006

errr...you might also want to read Northrop Frye who was also another person that Campbell cribbed alot of material from.
posted by jadepearl at 10:32 AM on March 27, 2006

I'm rather sure contessa has it right - The Power of Myth is the one you're looking for.
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:45 AM on March 27, 2006

I myself am not a Campbell scholar, but I've found him in interviews to be somewhat disdainful of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In one interview he said that he found it ridiculous that so much violence, hatred, and death was attached to a centuries old battle over a metaphor, and he also admitted to dropping his own association with the Roman Catholic chuch. To me it seemed that he wasn't so much an anti-Semite--more of a strident, angry atheist who felt morally and intellectually superior to those who still clung to monotheistic faiths. I'm not saying that's better than being an anti-Semite--just different.

The book you're thinking of does sound like The Power of Myth, as contessa suggested.
posted by xyzzy at 10:52 AM on March 27, 2006

The book is The Writer's Journey. It refers at great length to Star Wars and The Wizard of Oz and it refers frequently to The Odyssey.
posted by graymouser at 11:07 AM on March 27, 2006

Er...that wasn't supposed to be so terse. Dang.

But having had Vogler's book as a text in an unfortunate undergrad Short Story course (which literally 80% of the class dropped after a week), I'm quite certain it fits the description. Vogler wrote the book originally for Hollywood scriptwriters to get a better grasp of Hero's Journey structure during the whole Star Wars and Power of Myth craze, and then started selling it as a book on writing. The prof who taught the course could fit anything into Hero's Journey structure, and in fact did.

The effect was, as can be expected, suffocatingly dry. Though I think I managed a fairly interesting quasi-Campbell analysis of a couple of good Updike stories ("A&P" and "The Persistence of Desire").
posted by graymouser at 11:14 AM on March 27, 2006

I think graymouser's got it right.
posted by soiled cowboy at 12:35 PM on March 27, 2006

As graymouser has already said (twice), the book you're looking for is probably "The Writer's Journey" by Christopher Vogler, which started as a memo he wrote while working at Fox. In a sort of reverse Jerry Maguire, the thing became so popular it made his career. The hero's journey quickly became conventional wisdom in Hollywood and now it's hard to find a screenwriting book that doesn't at least reference it. You also may be thinking of Myth and Movies: Discovering the Myth Structure of 50 Unforgettable Films which covers the same ground with more detailed examples.
posted by zanni at 12:35 PM on March 27, 2006

Yeah, it's The Writer's Journey. Thanks to all who commented.

I used to have the book, and I thought about it in the midst of laying the groundwork for a 9th grade English unit on the Odyssey. After I got the title from you fine folks, I went to the bookstore, picked it up, and realized that it wasn't quite as cool as I remembered.

Still, it presents the bare-bones framework that I was looking for. I needed an analysis model to present my freshmen, who have varying degrees of experience at such. Thanks again, MeFites!
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:21 AM on March 28, 2006

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