Wednesday, November 07, 2018

The Hero With A Thousand Faces

The Hero With a Thousand Faces combines Freudian psychoanalysis with mythology to present a "universal" of human beliefs. The comparison of different archetypal myths across different culture is appealing. However, the book gets really bogged down in the psychoanalysis. The discussion of myths is interrupted with analysis of dreams (which often seems to show some sexual or maternal feeling.) The analysis of different mythologies has an odd relationship with "non-western" mythologies. They are at the same time referred and treated as inferior. This may just be a symptom of the analysis which seems to bring out the most extreme views that match the thesis. This leaves me wanting more, and stories are often left half-told, ending once they have got their point across.
I was less than impressed with the book. The conclusion and epilogue were especially demoralizing. He was attempting a focus on mythologies and had great respect for the importance in societies. He acknowledged the many different explanations of myths, and laments the lack of myths in modern society. (Society discovered the "light" of science, but lost the "light" of myth.) There was so much potential in a work of comparative mythology. Alas, the actual work got bogged down with the then-modern theory of psychoanalysis that it was not able to provide adequate treatment of the different myths.

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