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The first collection of Joseph Campbell’s writings and lectures on the Arthurian romances of the Middle Ages, a central focus of his celebrated scholarship, edited and introduced by Arthurian scholar Evans Lansing Smith, PhD, the chair of Mythological Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute.
Throughout his life, Joseph Campbell was deeply engaged in the study of the Grail Quests and Arthurian legends of the European Middle Ages. In this new volume of the Collected Works of Joseph Campbell, editor Evans Lansing Smith collects Campbell’s writings and lectures on Arthurian legends, including his never-before-published master’s thesis on Arthurian myth, “A Study of the Dolorous Stroke.” Campbell’s writing captures the incredible stories of such figures as Merlin, Gawain, and Guinevere as well as the larger patterns and meanings revealed in these myths. Merlin’s death and Arthur receiving Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake, for example, are not just vibrant stories but also central to the mythologist’s thinking.
The Arthurian myths opened the world of comparative mythology to Campbell, turning his attention to the Near and Far Eastern roots of myth. Calling the Arthurian romances the world’s first “secular mythology,” Campbell found metaphors in them for human stages of growth, development, and psychology. The myths exemplify the kind of love Campbell called amor, in which individuals become more fully themselves through connection. Campbell’s infectious delight in his discoveries makes this volume essential for anyone intrigued by the stories we tell - and the stories behind them.
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I came at this audiobook with some notable biases. I fell in love with Rudnicki's voice because of his narration of the Caine series, which are still my all-time favourite audiobooks. I have been a mythology nerd since childhood, for the simple fact that the stories are a hoot. Yes, mythology may be Culture, but come on, the plots are amazing! The characters are wild! These were stories that survived and made their way to us because they are so freakin' cool!
It has been a great source of consternation to me that the vast majority of mythology books are written (and read) in such a dull, emotionless fashion that they actually manage to be boring (looking at you, Robert Graves and Matt Bates, Thomas Bulfinch and Jonathan Cowley; and yes, still looking at you, Gaiman and Fry. Sorry, but.). It takes quite a bit of effort to turn the average myth into a boring, endless drag; yet people seem determined to do so, and usually manage.
Hence, when I found myself listening to Caine earnestly explaining what the heck was wrong with Parzival, or explaining the struggle between Amor and Roma, I was bawled over. This is mythology how it was always meant to be: entertaining, engaging, lively, and fascinating. If you're a Caine buff, this is also so canonically accurate to be painful; but that is just the cherry on the cake.
- K. Jeppson
I learned so much and I can’t wait to listen to it again. This has opened a new world for me to explore.
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