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Reply To: 1997 reprint of The Mythic Image

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David
Participant

Good question, Alan! The Mythic Image is one of my favorite books.

In general, Fine (aka MJF) editions are inferior — and occasionally published without permission.

The definitive edition, to date, is the 1974 hardcover Princeton edition, which is larger than the 1981 trade paperback that PUP put out, and includes a number of beautiful color images. It’s got the same cover image of the trimurti — the three-faced sculpture of Śiva — as the paperback, as opposed to the Fine editions’ picture of St. George and the dragon.

The Fine editions of The Mythic Image were unlicensed. At this point, only used copies are left of both hardcover editions, so buying it isn’t necessarily funding piracy. Still…

I haven’t seen that particular edition, but here’s what an Amazon reviewer had to say:

While the softbound edition is quite good, if you have the room and can find it, there is a larger Princeton Polychrome Press hardbound with beautiful images that you may prefer.

The big 9.5 by 12 inch, 2 inch thick Princeton [University] Press edition has quite a few color plates and has larger black and white images with more dynamic range than those in the softbound 7.5 by 10 edition.

Unfortunately there are at least two hardbounds. Another one by “MJF books” which I mistakenly first bought, is the same size as the softbound, has no color plates, and is on less opaque paper. What led me and other reviewers to seek a hardbound was a note in the preface in the softbound: “In order to realize this paperback edition of The Mythic Image, in reduced format, thirty-four color plates are reproduced in black and white …”

Unfortunately it is hard to tell which hardbound edition used sellers are actually offering, but Amazon lets you e-mail a used book’s seller. An e-mailed question about color plates and the book’s size worked for me.

The 9.5 by 12 format [Princeton] Press hardbound is ISBN-10: 0-691-09869-7 and has a dust jacket with the same image as the cover of the softbound.

By the way, if you’d like to read Campbell’s discussions with the editors at Princeton about both the 1974 edition and the 1981 paperback (about which he was furious), check out Correspondence: 1927–1987. The letters are… enlightening. 🙂