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Balter, L. (1970). The Masks of God: Creative Mythology: By Joseph Campbell. New York: The Viking Press, Inc., 1968. 730 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 39:326-330.

(1970). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 39:326-330

The Masks of God: Creative Mythology: By Joseph Campbell. New York: The Viking Press, Inc., 1968. 730 pp.

Review by:
Leon Balter

Creative Mythology is the fourth and final volume of the series, The Masks of God by Joseph Campbell. The first three volumes, Primitive Mythology, Oriental Mythology, and Occidental Mythology, comprise not only a gigantic exposition of the world's mythology but also the application to that subject matter of the most varied disciplines, e.g., anthropology, sociology, psychology, archeology, linguistics, history, etc. The present volume, Creative Mythology, shares with its sister volumes the same eclectic approach; however, it deals with a different order of mythological phenomena. The previous volumes dealt with 'traditional' mythology; the present, with 'creative' mythology. Campbell makes the distinction between the two in this way: 'In the context of a traditional mythology, the symbols are presented in socially maintained rites, through which the individual is required to experience, or will pretend to have experienced, certain insights, sentiments, and commitments. In what I am calling "creative" mythology, on the other hand, this order is reversed: the individual has had an experience of his own—of order, horror, beauty, or even mere exhilaration—which he seeks to communicate through signs; and if his realization has been of a certain depth and import, his communication will have the value and force of living myth—for those, that is to say, who receive and respond to it of themselves, with recognition, uncoerced.' Later, he states: 'Traditional mythologies, that is to say, whether of the primitive or of the higher cultures, antecede and control experience; whereas what I am here calling Creative Mythology is an effect and expression of experience.

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