In 1940, he was introduced to Swami Nikhilananda, who enlisted his help in producing a new translation of The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna (published in 1942). Although regularly labeled a Jungian, Campbell differed from the Swiss psychologist and psychoanalyst in many ways. Then, late in 1931, after exploring and rejecting the possibility of a doctoral program or teaching job at Columbia, he decided, like countless young men before and since, to “hit the road,” to undertake a cross-country journey in which he hoped to experience “the soul of America” and, in the process, perhaps discover the purpose of his life. On the one hand, he was immersed in the rituals, symbols, and rich traditions of his Irish Catholic heritage; on the other, he was obsessed with primitive (or, as he later preferred, “primal”) people’s direct experience of what he came to describe as “the continuously created dynamic display of an absolutely transcendent, yet universally immanent, mysterium tremendum et fascinans, which is the ground at once of the whole spectacle and of oneself.”. Sometimes he favoured the East over the West, primitives over moderns, and planters over hunters. Author of. It was in Europe where he discovered the keys to interpreting myth nonhistorically and nonliterally in the work of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, the two leading figures of modern psychology. . 4: 1968); The Flight of the Wild Gander: Explorations in the Mythological Dimension (1969); Myths to Live By (1972); The Mythic Image (1974); The Inner Reaches of Outer Space: Metaphor as Myth and as Religion (1986); and five books in his unfinished four-volume, multipart Historical Atlas of World Mythology (1983–87). And what is it, after all? In 1924, while on a steamship journey to Europe with his family, Joe met and befriended Jiddu Krishnamurti, the young messiah-elect of the Theosophical Society, thus beginning a friendship that would be renewed intermittently over the next five years. A science would buckle me down—and would probably yield no more important fruit than literature may yield me!—If I want to justify my existence, and continue to be obsessed with the notion that I’ve got to do something for humanity—well, teaching ought to quell that obsession—and if I can ever get around to an intelligent view of matters, intelligent criticism of contemporary values ought to be useful to the world. In his other major work, the unfinished Historical Atlas of World Mythology (1983–87), Campbell discussed diffusion and independent invention as sources of similarities between myths and elaborately traced the routes by which diffusion took place. In the best-selling The Power of Myth (1988), the book form of his interview with Moyers, Campbell summed up his lifelong advocacy of myth as decisive for a happy life. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Author of The Allure of Gnosticism; editor of The Myth and Ritual Theory: An Anthology; and others. On the Occassion of Joseph Campbell’s Centennial In 1956, he was invited to speak at the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute; working without notes, he delivered two straight days of lectures. After graduating from Columbia University, where he studied English literature (B.A., 1925) and medieval literature (M.A., 1927), Campbell took up a two-year fellowship to study Old French and Sanskrit at the University of Paris and the University of Munich. Omissions? . Even before undertaking the editing of Zimmer, Campbell was writing The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949), which remains his best-known work. Because of the stock market crash in the United States and the start of the Great Depression, he found little opportunity for work. In the mid-1950s, he also undertook a series of public lectures at the Cooper Union in New York City; these talks drew an ever-larger, increasingly diverse audience, and soon became a regular event. Zimmer soon died, and Campbell devoted the next 12 years to turning Zimmer’s lecture notes into four tomes: Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization (1946), The King and the Corpse (1948), Philosophies of India (1951), and The Art of Indian Asia (1955). From the time of his first public lecture in 1940—a talk at the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center entitled “Sri Ramakrishna’s Message to the West”—it was apparent that he was an erudite but accessible lecturer, a gifted storyteller, and a witty raconteur. Rather than confine his subject matter to myth and the human mind, Campbell found in myth the key to the cosmos as a whole. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Joseph Campbell Foundation is a US registered 501c(3) not-for-profit corporation (Federal Tax I.D. In 1932–33 Campbell taught at the preparatory school he had attended as a boy, and in the next year he began teaching in New York City at the recently founded Sarah Lawrence College, where he eventually became a professor of literature. He worked on wampum belts, started his own “tribe” (named the “Lenni-Lenape” after the Delaware tribe who had originally inhabited the New York metropolitan area), and frequented the American Museum of Natural History, where he became fascinated with totem poles and masks, thus beginning a lifelong exploration of that museum’s vast collection.