Joseph Campbell’s reading list (A collection of 11)

From the article below, you will learn about the famous American author Joseph Campbell and a collection of 12 his greatest books. 

About Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell (1904–1987) was an American author and teacher best known for his work in the field of comparative mythology. He was born in New York City in 1904, and from early childhood he became interested in mythology. He loved to read books about American Indian cultures, and frequently visited the American Museum of Natural History in New York, where he was fascinated by the museum’s collection of totem poles. Campbell was educated at Columbia University, where he specialized in medieval literature, and continued his studies at universities in Paris and Munich. While abroad he was influenced by the art of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, the novels of James Joyce and Thomas Mann, and the psychological studies of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. These encounters led to Campbell’s theory that all myths and epics are linked in the human psyche, and that they are cultural manifestations of the universal need to explain social, cosmological, and spiritual realities.

After a period in California, where he encountered John Steinbeck and the biologist Ed Ricketts, he taught at the Canterbury School, and then, in 1934, joined the literature department at Sarah Lawrence College, a post he retained for many years. During the 40s and ’50s, he helped Swami Nikhilananda to translate the Upanishads and The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. He also edited works by the German scholar Heinrich Zimmer on Indian art, myths, and philosophy. In 1944, with Henry Morton Robinson, Campbell published A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake. His first original work, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, came out in 1949 and was immediately well received; in time, it became acclaimed as a classic. In this study of the “myth of the hero,” Campbell asserted that there is a single pattern of heroic journey and that all cultures share this essential pattern in their various heroic myths. In his book he also outlined the basic conditions, stages, and results of the archetypal hero’s journey.

Throughout his life, he traveled extensively and wrote prolifically, authoring many books, including the four-volume series The Masks of God, Myths to Live By, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space and The Historical Atlas of World Mythology. Joseph Campbell died in 1987. In 1988, a series of television interviews with Bill Moyers, The Power of Myth, introduced Campbell’s views to millions of people.

For more on Joseph Campbell and his work, visit the web site of Joseph Campbell Foundation at

The Hero with a Thousand Faces (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell) 

About : A new expanded edition of the classic work on comparative mythology amasses the characteristics exemplified by mythological heroes and religious leaders of all centuries and cultures into a unified whole as it outlines the Hero’s Journey as a universal motif of adventure running through all of the world’s mythic traditions. 35,000 first printing.

Rating : 4.6/5

The Mythic Dimension: Selected Essays 1959-1987 (Collected Works of Joseph Campbell) 

About : In these pages, the Collected Works of Joseph Campbell presents twelve eclectic, far-ranging, and brilliant essays gathered together for the first time. The essays explore myth in all its dimensions: its history; its influence on art, literature, and culture; and its role in everyday life.

This second volume of Campbell’s essays (following The Flight of the Wild Gander) brings together his uncollected writings from 1959 to 1987. Written at the height of Campbell’s career and showcasing the lively intelligence that made him the twentieth centuries premier writer on mythology these essays investigate the profound links between myth, the individual, and societies ancient and contemporary. Covering diverse terrain ranging from psychology to the occult, from Thomas Mann to the Grateful Dead, from Goddess spirituality to Freud and Jung, these playful and erudite writings reveal the threads of myth woven deeply into the fabric of our culture and our lives

Rating : 4.5/5

The Hero’s Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work (Collected Works of Joseph Campbell)

About : Joseph Campbell, arguably the greatest mythologist of the twentieth century, was certainly one of our greatest storytellers. This masterfully crafted book interweaves conversations between Campbell and some of the people he inspired, including poet Robert Bly, anthropologist Angeles Arrien, filmmaker David Kennard, Doors drummer John Densmore, psychiatric pioneer Stanislov Grof, Nobel laureate Roger Guillemen, and others. Campbell reflects on subjects ranging from the origins and functions of myth, the role of the artist, and the need for ritual to the ordeals of love and romance. With poetry and humor, Campbell recounts his own quest and conveys the excitement of his lifelong exploration of our mythic traditions, what he called “the one great story of mankind.”

Rating : 4.6/5

Myths to Live By (Compass)

About : “There is no one quite like Joseph Campbell. He knows the vast sweep of man’s panoramic past as few men have even known it.” -The Village Voice

What is a properly functioning mythology and what are its functions? Can we use myths to help relieve our modern anxiety, or do they help foster it? In Myths to Live by, Joseph Campbell explores the enduring power of the universal myths that influence our lives daily and examines the myth-making process from the primitive past to the immediate present, retuning always to the source from which all mythology springs: the creative imagination.

Campbell stresses that the borders dividing the Earth have been shattered; that myths and religions have always followed certain basic archetypes and are no longer exclusive to a single person, region, or religion. He shows how we must recognize their common denominators and allow this knowledge to be of use in fulfilling human potential everywhere.

Rating : 4.6/5

A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living

About :Celebrated scholar Joseph Campbell shares his intimate and inspiring reflections on the art of living in this beautifully packaged book, part of a new series to be based on his unpublished writings.

Rating : 4.7/5

Pathways to Bliss: Mythology and Personal Transformation (Collected Works of Joseph Campbell)

About : The author of The Hero with a Thousand Faces applies the collective wisdom of mythology to everyday life, making connections among ancient symbols, modern art, mental illness, and the journey of the Hero, all with characteristic wit and insight.

Rating : 4.7/5

The Inner Reaches of Outer Space: Metaphor as Myth and as Religion (The Collected Works)

About : In these pages, beloved mythologist Joseph Campbell explores the Space Age. He posits that the newly discovered laws of outer space are actually within us as well, and that a new mythology is implicit in that realization. But what is this new mythology? How can we recognize it? Campbell explores these questions in the concluding essay, “The Way of Art in which he demonstrates that metaphor is the language of art and argues that within the psyches of today’s artists are the seeds of tomorrow’s mythologies.”

Campbell writes in his introduction:”My desire and great pleasure in the preparation of this little volume has been as rendering a return gift to the Graces for the transforming insights of these recent years, which…we have been testing out in a broadly shared spiritual adventure.”

Rating : 4.6/5

Primitive Mythology: The Masks of God, Volume I

About : The author of such acclaimed books as Hero With a Thousand Faces and The Power of Myth discusses the primitive roots of mythology, examining them in light of the most recent discoveries in archaeology, anthropology, and psychology

Rating : 4.5/5

Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine (Collected Works of Joseph Campbell) 

About : Previously uncollected lectures and writings trace the evolution of the Goddess, from Neolithic Old Europe to the Renaissance, and interpret classical motifs, offering insight into self-actualization for women. 20,000 first printing.

Rating : 4.8/5

The Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake: Unlocking James Joyce’s Masterwork (Collected Works of Joseph Campbell) 

About : Countless would-be readers of Finnegans Wake — James Joyce’s 1939 masterwork, on which he labored for a third of his life — have given up after a few pages and dismissed the book as a perverse triumph of the unintelligible.” In 1944, a young professor of mythology and literature named Joseph Campbell, working with novelist and poet Henry Morton Robinson, wrote the first guide to understanding the fascinating world of Finnegans Wake. Page by page, chapter by chapter, A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake outlines the basic action of Joyce’s book, simplifies and clarifies the complex web of images and allusions, and provides an understandable, continuous narrative from which the reader can venture out on his or her own. This edition includes a foreword and updates by Joyce scholar Dr. Edmund L. Epstein adds the context of sixty subsequent years of scholarship.

Rating : 4.8/5

Flight of the Wild Gander: Explorations in the Mythological Dimension (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell) 

About : The author of The Hero with a Thousand Faces explores the origins of myth from the Grimm fairy tales to Native American legends, explaining in a collection of essays how the symbolic content of myth is linked to universal human experience and how myths and experiences change over time.

Rating : 4.8/5

Historical Atlas of World Mythology

About : Masterful, as all of Joseph Campbell’s works. It ties together mythology and history in a way that allows meaning to emerge in the weird and wonderful ways of our ancestors.

Rating : 5/5


From the article above, you got a collection of 12 of Joseph Campbell’s reading list. 

If you’ve enjoyed the Joseph Campbell’s reading list mentioned above, I would recommend you to take a look at ”How old is Geralt of Rivia?” a character from a hit series about mythology.

FAQs: Joseph Campbell’s reading list

What was one of Joseph Campbell’s famous quote?

If you do follow your bliss.

What does the hero with a thousand faces mean?

A new expanded edition of the classic work on comparative mythology amasses the characteristics exemplified by mythological heroes and religious leaders of all centuries and cultures into a unified whole as it outlines the Hero’s Journey as a universal motif of adventure running through all of the world’s mythic traditions. 35,000 first printing.

What is Joseph Campbell theory?

Campbell’s concept of monomyth (one myth) refers to the theory that sees all mythic narratives as variations of a single great story. 

What does all the gods all the heavens all the hells are within you mean?

Actually , it is all the gods, all the heavens, all the hells are within you. With that said, basically it means, it’s in us, we create our own heaven and hell, we believe in our own God or gods. Find peace in yourself and you find heaven, be at war with yourself , you find hell.

Is Joseph Campbell still alive?

Deceased (1904–1987)

References: The Masks of God: Complete Four Volume Set