Joseph Campbell

Primitive Mythology

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Explore the power of myth as humanity first discovered it

Collected Works of Joseph Campbell edition — with up-to-date science

In this first volume of The Masks of God — Joseph Campbell’s major work of comparative mythology — the preeminent mythologist looks at the wellsprings of myth. From the earliest expressions of religious awe in pre-modern humans to the rites and art of contemporary primal tribes, myth has informed humankind's understanding of the world, seen and unseen. Exploring these archetypal mythic images and practices, Campbell examines the basic concepts that underlie all human myth, even to this day.

The Masks of God is a four-volume study of world religion and myth that stands as one of Joseph Campbell’s masterworks. On completing it, he wrote:

Its main result for me has been the confirmation of a thought I have long and faithfully entertained: of the unity of the race of man, not only in its biology, but also in its spiritual history, which has everywhere unfolded in the manner of a single symphony, with its themes announced, developed, amplified and turned about, distorted, reasserted, and today, in a grand fortissimo of all sections sounding together, irresistibly advancing to some kind of mighty climax, out of which the next great movement will emerge.

This new digital edition is part of the Collected Works of Joseph Campbell series. Joseph Campbell Foundation has worked with scientists and academics to bring the anthropological and paleontological information Campbell explores in line with the best twenty-first century scholarship.

(Comparative Mythology: paleontology, Neanderthal and Cro-magnon culture, neolithic and paleolithic art and religion.)

"[T]he mask in a primitive festival is revered and experienced as a veritable apparition of the mythical being that it represents — even though everyone knows that a man made the mask and that a man is wearing it. The one wearing it, furthermore, is identified with the god during the time of the ritual of which the mask is a part. He does not merely represent the god; he is the god."— Joseph Campbell, Primitive Mythology
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    b2272133812цитираминалата година
    The picture can perhaps be compared to that of a number of sister and brothers, all representing a family type, yet none more authentically than the rest. And the more numerous the gathered examples, the more fascinating and tantalizing the comparison
    b2272133812цитираминалата година
    Those pre-sexual, pre-mortal ancestral beings of the mythological narrative lived the idyl of the beginning, an age when all things were innocent of the destiny of life in time. But there occurred in that age an event, the “mythological event” par excellence, which brought to an end its timeless way of being and effected a transformation of all things. Whereupon death and sex came into the world as the basic correlates of temporality
    Soliloquios Literariosцитираминалата година
    From the position of secular man (Homo sapiens), that is to say, we are to enter the play sphere of the festival, acquiescing in a game of belief, where fun, joy, and rapture rule in ascending series. The laws of life in time and space — economics, politics, and even morality — will thereupon dissolve. Whereafter, re-created by that return to paradise before the Fall, before the knowledge of good and evil, right and wrong, true and false, belief and disbelief, we are to carry the point of view and spirit of man the player (Homo ludens) back into life; as in the play of children, where, undaunted by the banal actualities of life’s meager possibilities, the spontaneous impulse of the spirit to identify itself with something other than itself for the sheer delight of play, transubstantiates the world — in which, actually, after all, things are not quite as real or permanent, terrible, important, or logical as they seem

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