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The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology


The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The primitive roots of the mythology of the world are examined in light of the most recent discoveries in archaeology, anthroplogy, and psychology.

Through the landmark PBS television series The Power of Myth, with Bill Moyers, Joseph Campbell reached an audience of millions, passing on the rich legacy and excitement of a lifetime spent studying world mythology.

The Masks of God is his four-volume masterwork. Upon completing it he wrote: "Its main result for me has been its 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."


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

About the Author

Joseph Campbell was interested in mythology since his childhood in New York, when he read books about American Indians, frequently visited the American Museum of Natural History, and was fascinated by the museum's collection of totem poles. He earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees at Columbia in 1925 and 1927 and went on to study medieval French and Sanskrit at the universities of Paris and Munich. After a period in California, where he encountered John Steinbeck and the biologist Ed Ricketts, he taught at the Canterbury School, then, in 1934, joined the literature department at Sarah Lawrence College, a post he retained for many years. During the 1940s and '50s, he helped Swami Nikhilananda to translate the Upanishads and The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. The many books by Professor Campbell include The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Myths to Live By, The Flight of the Wild Gander, and The Mythic Image. He edited The Portable Arabian Nights, The Portable Jung, and other works. He died in 1987.

Table of Contents

Foreword: On the Completion of The Masks of God

Prologue: Toward a Natural History of the Gods and Heroes:

I. The Lineaments of a New Science

II. The Well of the Past

III. The Dialogue of Scholarship and Romance

Part One: The Psychology of Myth Introduction: The Lesson of the Mask

Chapter 1. The Enigma of the Inherited Image

I. The Innate Releasing Mechanism

II. The Supernormal Sign Stimulus

Chapter 2. The Imprints of Experience

I. Suffering and Rapture

II. The Structuring Force of Life on Earth

III. The Imprints of Early Infancy

IV. The Spontaneous Animism of Childhood

V. The System of Sentiments of the Local Group

VI. The Impact of Old Age

Part Two: The Mythology of the Primitive Planters Chapter 3. The Culture Province of the High Civilizations

I. The Proto-Neolithic: c. 7500-5500 B. C.

II. The Basal Neolithic: c. 5500-4500 B. C.

III. The High Neolithic: c. 4500-3500 B. C.

IV. The Hieratic City-State: c. 3500-2500 B. C.

Chapter 4. The Province of the Immolated Kings

I. The Legend of the Destruction of Kash

II. A Night of Shehrzad

III. The King, and the Virgin of the Vestal Fire

Chapter 5. The Ritual Love-Death

I. The Descent and Return of the Maiden

II. The Mythological Event

III. Persephone

IV. The Monster Eel

V. Parallelism or Diffusion?

VI. The Ritual Love-Death in Pre-Columbian America

Part Three: The Mythology of the Primitive Hunters Chapter 6. Shamanism

I. The Shaman and the Priest

II. Shamanistic Magic

III. The Shamanistic Vision

IV. The Fire-Bringer

Chapter 7. The Animal Master

I. The Legend of the Buffalo Dance

II. Paleolithic Mythology

III. The Ritual of the Returned Blood

Chapter 8. The Paleolithic Caves

I. The Shamans of the Great Hunt

II. Our Lady of the Mammoths

III. The Master Bear

IV. The Mythologies of the Two Worlds

Part Four: The Archaeology of Myth Chapter 9. Mythological Thresholds of the Paleolithic

I. The Stage of Plesianthropus ()

II. The Stage of Pithecanthropus ()

III. The Stage of Neanderthal Man (c. 200,000-75,000/25,000 B. C.)

IV. The Stage of Cro-Magnon Man (c. 30,000-10,000 B. C.)

V. The Caspian-Microlithic Style (c. 30,000/10,000-4,000 B. C.)

Chapter 10. Mythological Thresholds of the Neolithic

I. The Great Serpent of the Earliest Planters (c. 7500 B. C.?)

II. The Birth of Civilization in the Near East (c. 7500-2500 B. C.)

III. The Great Diffusion

Conclusion: The Functioning of Myth

I. The Local Images and the Universal Way

II. The Bondages of Love, Power, and Virtue

III. The Release from Bondage

Reference Notes


Product Details

Campbell, Joseph
Penguin Books
New York, N.Y., U.S.A. :
Comparative Religion
Folklore & Mythology - Mythology
Mythology and folklore
Mythologie orientale
General Fiction
Mythology-Folklore and Storytelling
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Masks of God
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
November 1991
Grade Level:
from 12
8.46x5.51x1.03 in. .91 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Humanities » Mythology » Folklore and Storytelling
Humanities » Mythology » General

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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
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