Mythic Worlds, Modern Words: Literature as Modern Myth

Discussion of Joseph Campbell's work with an emphasis on the personal creative impulse as well as the sociological role of the artist in today's global community.

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tspillan
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Mythic Worlds, Modern Words: Literature as Modern Myth

Post by tspillan » Sat Nov 28, 2009 10:27 am

Hi all,

I recently came across the follwing quote from Jung in which he discusses the appearence of mythological archetypes in moder lit:

Mythological motifs frequently appear, but clothed in modern dress; for instance, instead of the eagle of Zeus, or the great roc, there is an airplane; the fight with the dragon is a railway smash; the dragon-slaying hero is an operatic tenor; the Earth Mother is a stout lady selling vegetables; the Pluto who abducts Persephone is a reckless chauffeur, and so on. (Jung, 1930 "Psychology and Literature" CW Vol.15).

I know that in Campbell's Mythic Worlds he views Joyce's work in these terms but I was wondering if people here have come across similar studies, by Campbell or anyone else, that recognize modern literature as contemporary myth.
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Post by Clemsy » Sat Nov 28, 2009 3:43 pm

Hi tspillan,

You are correct in that Campbell views Joyce in this manner, and not just in Mythic Worlds. He discusses Joyce extensively in Creative Mythology, and in some detail in almost all his other work. Campbell also includes Thomas Mann, as influenced by Nietzche, Schopenhauer and Wagner, as a significant figure.

I think it's important to note here that Campbell would trace the 'DNA' of mythic/secular literature back to the Art of Courtly Romance (Abelard and Heloise) and the Arthur cycle. He had a particular affinity for Eschenbach's Parsifal.

Lots of material here, and no time to really flesh it out.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,
Clemsy
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
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tspillan
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Post by tspillan » Sun Nov 29, 2009 10:39 am

Hia Clemsy- Creative Mythology is a great source. Any other authors would be helpful as I've been a Campbell nerd for some time now and I'm pretty well familiar with his take on the subject. I just came across Literature and Film as Modern Mythology, by William K. Ferrell- I'm going to give it a read. I see in the works cited page that he quotes Campbell extensively- so at least I know he's got good taste. Thanks again for the response and please, keep 'em coming.
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Post by Martin_Weyers » Tue Feb 16, 2010 3:00 pm

My reply comes a bit late, but maybe it's still of interest. Some of the writers and philosophers of German Romanticism considered literature as a form of mythology, or a way to a new mythology. For example Friedrich Schlegel, who considered the work of writers such as Cervantes or Shakespeare as "indirect mythology". While poets like Novalis considered the modern novel as a new medium for mythology.

Something that fascinates me, when it comes to reading novels is, that like a movie, they enable us to experience time in a completely different way: Like a shaman you escape from reality for some while, to live forth in an "otherworld", and (in the best case) turn back with more wisdom and maturity in your backpack.

It was Mircea Eliade who said that the eternal time experienced in a modern novel is similiar to the experience of time in myth and ritual. And it was Howard Nemerov who compared Parzival and Thomas Mann's, Magic Mountain, and explained that both are examples for the story of the quester hero.
Works of art are indeed always products of having been in danger, of having gone to the very end in an experience, to where man can go no further. -- Rainer Maria Rilke
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