"A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living"
by Joseph Campbell and Diane Osbon (editor)
Reading history and reviews
Finished on 31st January 2010It seems like I've had this book forever. I'm something of a fan of Joseph Campbell from the two other books of his that I've read, particularly Myths to Live By, but on the previous occasion that I started to read this I think I got stuck after the first few pages. This time it was a joy to read, and on reflection I suppose it might simply be that returning to it at a very significant time in my own life I was more open to absorb the ideas in the book when I hadn't been before - something that might have appealed to Campbell himself.
Like "Myths to Live By" this is a collection of Campbell's thoughts about how a person might live in the modern world, based on his understanding of world mythologies and belief systems. However unlike "Myths..." (where the material I think was based on a series of public lectures that Campbell gave), I felt that "Reflections on the Art of Living" speaks more directly (and often more humorously) to the reader as an intellectual equal. The ideas are explored more deeply and Campbell often relates them back to incidents from his own life (as an aside, I also found many of the autobiographical details to be fascinating in themselves).
I think that one of the key things that I've taken from all of Campbell's books is a sense that once we strip away the details of mythology and religion which are no longer appropriate to the world we live in now, we find there are still fundamental and very relevant truths about what it means to be human and to be alive. I've always felt that "Myths to Live By" rewarded each re-reading with fresh insights that I'd missed previously, and I'm lokking forward to similar rewards from returning to "Reflections on the Art of Living" in the future.
Finished on 24th April 2014I've just finished reading this for the second time and as with Campbell's Myths To Live By it has been full of fresh insights for me. I think that to some extent with these works, we bring our own experiences to each reading and what feels most relevant to us changes in the light of those experiences. This time one of the themes that I was most struck was that of holding onto things that are past, which can stop us moving into our future, and that it is (in his words) a "refusal of the call" to embark on our own personal journeys. Once again I'm already looking forward to returning to this book again (and again) in the future.