Meet Joe Campbell
Insights into the ideas of a mythologist
(more about Joseph Campbell)

Sources #3: Arthurian Romance

The next major source of Joseph Campbell's thought and work is medieval literature in general, and Arthurian romance in particular.

Medieval lit was his specialty at Columbia (B.A. 1925); he returned for a Masters in 1926, where in 1927 he completed his thesis on " The Dolorous Stroke," a motif found in the Arthurian legend of the Fisher King, as well as other Celtic stories.

He was then given a fellowship to study in Europe; he studied Romance philology, Old French, and Proven├žal at the University of Paris (a serious medievalist's toolkit).

The fourth volume of his great work The Masks of God is titled Creative Mythology. It is largely occupied with medieval literature, including a masterful retelling and analysis of Wolfram's Parzival.

This stands in deep contrast to his interest in Native American and other "Primitive Mythology" (as the first volume of Masks is called). His deep linguistic study denotes the seriousness with which he approached this body of literature, and his glee in retelling the stories (as, for example, in the Bill Moyers interviews--book--DVD) is evident.

Next time: Modern Literature

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