One of the most common requests the Joseph Campbell Foundation receives is for Joseph Campbell’s reading list – the books he assigned in his mythology course at Sarah Lawrence College.
It’s a lengthy list. Bill Moyers shares a story about receiving a letter from a former student of Campbell’s who noted that “While all of us listened spellbound, we did stagger under the weight of his weekly reading assignments.” Eventually, one of her classmates complained, noting that she had other classes, each with assigned reading, and wondered how she was expected to complete the reading for his course every week.
Campbell’s amused response: “I’m astonished you tried. You have the rest of your life to do the reading.”
Joseph Campbell The Mythic Dimension
Appendix 2: Reading List for Joseph Campbell’s Class on Mythology at Sarah Lawrence College
This short appendix is one of the most requested media items on the Joseph Campbell Foundation website. It comprises a master reading list for Campbell’s famous Introduction to Mythology class, which he taught at Sarah Lawrence College from the late 1930s to the mid-1970s. This reading list gives a sense of the material covered in this class, but also an insight into the authors and books that most influenced Campbell in his own thinking. It has been published in The Mythic Dimension: Selected Essays 1959–1987, edited by former JCF Publishing Director Antony Van Couvering.
The following books were characteristically assigned by Joseph Campbell for his mythology course at Sarah Lawrence College. Eighty to eighty-give percent of these titles appeared each year as part of his course reading list. Where Campbell favored a particular edition, it is listed here, along with a modern edition if very old; otherwise, a good modern edition is shown.
- Ovid. Metamorphoses. Trans. Allen Mandelbaum. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1993.
- Frazer, Sir James George. The Golden Bough. One-volume ed. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1922. Also, abridged from the second and third editions, ed. Robert Frazer. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.
- Durkheim, Emile. The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. Trans. Karen E. Fields. New York: The Free Press, 1994.
- Levy-Bruhl, Lucien. How Natives Think. Trans. Lilian A. Clare. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985.
- Freud, Sigmund. The Interpretation of Dreams. Trans. James Strachey. New York: Basic Books, 1995.
- —. Three Contributions to a Theory of Sex. Trans. A. A. Brill. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1962.
- —. Totem and Taboo. Trans. A. A. Brill. New York: Vintage Books, 1950.
- —. Moses and Monotheism. Trans. Katherine A. Jones. New York: Vintage Books, 1967.
- Jung, Carl Gustav. Integration of the Personality. Trans. Stanley M. Dell. New York and Toronto: Farrar & Rinehart, 1939.
- The Secret of the Golden Flower: A Chinese Book of Life. Translated and explained by Richard Wilhelm, with a foreword and commentary by C. G. Jung. Revised and augmented edition. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1962.
- The Tibetan Book of the Dead, or, The After-Death Experiences on the Bardo Plane: according to Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup’s English renderings. Compiled and edited by W. Y. Evans-Wentz. New York: Oxford University Press, 1960.
- Coomaraswamy, Ananda. The Dance of ¶iva. London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent and Co., 1924. Reprint. New York: Dover Publications, 1985.
- The Bhagavad Gita. Trans. W. J. Johnson. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.
- Okakuru, Kazuko. The Book of Tea. Tokyo & New York: Kodansha International, 1989.
- Watts, Alan. The Way of Zen. New York: Pantheon, 1957.
- Herrigel, Eugen. Zen in the Art of Archery. Trans. R. F. C. Hull. New York: Vintage Books, 1989.
- Lao-Tze, The Canon of Reason and Virtue (Tao Te Ching). Chinese and English. Trans. D. T. Suzuki and Paul Carus. La Salle, Ill: Open Court, 1974.
- Sun-Tzu, The Art of War. Trans. Thomas Cleary. Boston: Shambhala, 1988.
- Confucius, Analects. Trans. and annotated by Arthur Waley. Reprint of 1938 Allen & Unwin edition. London and Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1988.
- —. The Great Digest and Unwobbling Pivot. Trans. Ezra Pound. New York, 1951.
- Chiera, Edward, They Wrote in Clay; The Babylonian Tablets Speak Today. Ed. George G. Cameron. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1938.
- Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. The Birth of Tragedy. Trans. Walter Kaufmann. New York: Vintage Books, 1967.
- Bible, New Testament, Book of Luke
- Aeschylus. Prometheus Bound. Trans. James Scully and C. J.
- Herrington. New York: Oxford University Press, 1975.
- Euripides. Hyppolytus. Trans. Richard Lattimore, In Four Tragedies. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1955.
- —. Alcestis. Trans. William Arrowsmith. New York: Oxford University Press, 1974.
- Sophocles. Oediups Tyrannus. Trans. and ed. by Luci Berkowitz & Theodore F. Brunner. A Norton Critical Edition. New York, Norton, 1970.
- Plato. Phaedrus. Trans. R. Hackforth, in The Collected Dialogues of Plato. Ed. Edith Hamilton & Huntington Cairns. Bollingen Series LCXXI. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961.
- —. Symposium. Trans. Michael Joyce, in The Collected Dialogues of Plato.
- The Koran. Trans. N. J. Dawood. 3rd rev. ed. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1968.
- The Portable Arabian Nights. Ed. Joseph Campbell. New York: Viking Books, 1951.
- Beowulf. Trans. Lucien Dean Pearson. Ed. Rowland L. Collins. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1965.
- Prose Edda of Snorri Sturluson. Trans. Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur. New York: The American-Scandinavian Foundation, 1916. Also, trans. Jean I. Young. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1964.
- Poetic Edda. Trans. Henry Adams Bellows. New York: The American-Scandinavian Foundation, 1926. Also, trans. Lee N. Hollander. 2nd ed., rev. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1962.
- The Mabinogion. Trans. Jeffrey Gantz. New York: Dorset Press, 1985.
- Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. Grimm’s Fairy Tales. New York Pantheon, 1944.
- Adams, Henry. Mont Saint Michel and Chartres. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1932. Also New York: New American Library, 1961.
- Boas, Franz. Race, Language, and Culture. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1940.
- Mann, Thomas. “Tonio Krøger,” trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter, in Stories of Three Decades. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1936.
- Thompson, Stith. Tales of the North American Indians. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1929.
- Opler, Morris Edward. Myths and Tales of the Jicarilla Apache Indians. New York: The American Folk-lore Society, 1938.
- Benedict, Ruth. Patterns of Culture. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1934, 1989.
- Stimson, John. E. Legends of Maui and Tahaki. Honolulu: The Museum, 1934.
- Melville, Herman. Typee. The Library of America. New York: Literary Classics of the United States, distrib. by the Viking Press, 1982.
- Frobenius, Leo, and Douglas C. Fox. African Genesis. New York: B. Blom, 1966.
- Radin, Paul. African Folktales and Sculpture. 2nd ed., rev., with additions. New York: Pantheon Books, 1964.
- Deren, Maya. Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti. New Paltz, NY: McPherson, 1983.