Each chapter of this book begins with a biographical narrative, followed by excerpts from myriad interviews with Campbell, organized in such a way that the interview topics follow the biographical line of the book. Jean Erdman, Stuart Brown, Phil Cousineau, Robert Bly, John Densmore and many more appear in the interviews with Campbell. The book also contains a complete timeline of Campbell's life and a list of books written or edited by Campbell. Note that this is a collection and is not as comprehensive a biography as 'A Fire In The Mind.' But what it misses in magnitude and detail, it makes up for in presentation. The book lends itself to both the page-through and in-depth readers. It is full of photographs (some full page)and highlights many of Campbell's memorable quotes. In a beautifully written introduction, Phil Cousineau refers to Campbell as the "ecstatic scholar", an "animateur" who was capable of evoking "the telling shiver of truth about your own life." This book re-animates Campbell's work and he is capable as ever, through the interviews on these pages, of speaking to the heart of his listeners and reawakening the mysteries of life with enthusiasm and awe. (I do also recommend 'A Fire In The Mind,' which contains details of Campbell's life and excerpts from his personal journals that are not included in this work.)
A friend once bemoaned there being no autobiography, or biography, of Joseph Campbell. This book fills a void. For those who have watched "The Power of Myth" videos, and read several JC books, this collection of dialogues is no disappointment. No intimate details are given of Campbell's life; when asked for juicy details during one session, he responds (more or less): "That's biography, and I don't do biography." I was impressed with the quickness of Campbell's replies and answers. JC relays several anecdotes of his friends Robinson and Zimmer, and gives honorable mention to the Bollingen Press and Sarah Lawrence College for crucial assistance in his career development. Particularly of interest are the frequent remarks concerning, and discussions with, his wife (and former student) Jean Erdman. While many of the remarks are verbatim replies heard in "The Power of Myth" videos, some are unreleased gems: there are two kinds of people in this world - those who know their myth is a fact (the orthodox religious) and those who know their myth is a lie (the atheists)- both KNOW that their myth is most certainly NOT a metaphor! I enjoyed it.
This book was well designed. The introduction by Phil Counsineau alone is worth the price. Instead of hidden away in some appendix, the Chronology of Joseph Campbell is up front before reading the details. The book is written mostly in a question and answer format. Next striking thing is the pictures that accompany the text makes you feel that some one knew that Joseph was going to be some one of interest and sent a professional photographer to follow his life. He has pictures with and/or (Buffalo Bill Cody, Black Elk, James Joyce, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Thomas Mann, Karlfried Graf Dürkheim, Carl Jung, Linda Ronstadt...) of all kinds of people that you would think came from different eras, most impressive is his portrait University of Paris. One thing you will notice of Joseph Campbell is that he has a way of looking at life that most people do not until it pointed out. Some times he will seem to be just telling you the most mundane information and all of a sudden ties it to a point that was overlooked. Reading this book on his life will give you a better insight as to his works.