Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
A scholar, teacher, and writer, Joseph Campbell translated his lifelong interest in mythology into books and lectures that brought a cohesive overview to the world’s stories and legends. Campbell was the son of Charles William and Josephine (Lynch) Campbell. As a boy, Campbell became fascinated by American Indian culture after a visit to the American Museum of Natural History and a performance of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. His interest in American Indian folklore was broadened during his college years by his readings in Eastern religion and philosophy. His study would lead him to the belief that there was in fact one world mythology that manifested itself in various ways from culture to culture.
While attending Columbia University, Campbell captained the college track team as a successful half-mile runner and played the saxophone in a local jazz band. He received a graduate fellowship from the university in 1927 and went to France to begin doctoral research in the field of Arthurian romances. In Paris, he encountered for the first time the works of James Joyce and Thomas Mann, the paintings of Pablo Picasso, and the writings of psychoanalyst Carl Jung. He returned to Columbia in 1929 determined to expand his field of research to include new ideas concerning the interrelationship of art, dreams, and myths. When the university rejected his plan, he left the doctoral program and spent the next five years living on his savings in Woodstock, New York,...
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