Great Interviews: Joseph Campbell
Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) was perhaps the greatest mythologist of the twentieth century, and one of the leading authorities on comparative religion. About a half dozen of his works are acclaimed classics, including The Hero With A Thousand Faces, The Masks Of God (4 volumes), and The Inner Reaches Of Outer Space: Metaphor As Myth And As Religion. For millions, the first glimpse into the scholar's mind came at the tail end of his life, when he assented to a series of interviews with Public Broadcasting. Within a year of the series' airing, PBS received some 14,000 handwritten letters and an endless number of requests for rebroadcast. How ironic, that in an age in which television programming is dependent almost entirely upon meticulous market research, high guesses about ever-capricious viewing audiences, that one of the most widely watched shows should consist of two men conversing about religion and myth, truth and love, meaning and mortality.
Perhaps there's a simple explanation for Campbell's enduring appeal among the lay public, apart, of course, from his considerable erudition and pedagogical skills. At precisely the moment in human history in which all the great questions about life seem answerable by science, in which the major religions seem to have lost their luster, a respected old scholar turns up in people's living rooms to affirm the value of myth and of imagination, and to suggest that life without them becomes desiccated, meaningless. Acknowledging the obvious -- that no religion should ever be read as history or confused with fact -- he convinces the reader (or viewer) to consider the stories and myths of old, whether those that circulated among ancient Indian tribes, among the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, or those that blossomed in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
Below are a few engaging interviews with the great man, along with suggestions for further reading.
An Open Life: Joseph Campbell In Conversation, ed. John Maher and Dennie Briggs.
Joseph Campbell And The Power Of Myth.
Other Books By Campbell: Myths To Live By; The Mythic Image; Historical World Atlas Of Mythology.