Joseph Campbell’s Favorite Story


Joseph Campbell taught at Sarah Lawrence College for 38 years and is widely considered the leading mythology expert of our time. He has an exhaustive list of books (The Hero with a Thousand Faces being his most well known), interviews, and audio recordings regarding the use of mythology to better understand our own hero’s journey.

The man who has studied the myths, tales, and stories from nearly all the cultures in recorded history, believed that the following, from an Arthurian romance, La Queste del Saint Graal, by an anonymous thirteenth century monk, best conveys the human experience.

The Story

So King Arthur and his knights are seated at the round table, and the Holy Grail appears before them, covered in a great, radiant cloth. And then it suddenly disappears. Arthur’s nephew, Gawain, proposes a quest to find the Holy Grail unveiled.

“Now we come to the text that interested me. The text reads, ‘They thought it would be a disgrace to go forth in a group. Each entered the Forest Adventurous at the point he himself had chosen, where it was darkest and there was no way or path.’ You enter the forest at the darkest point, where there is no path. Where there is a way or path, it is someone else’s path; each human being is a unique phenomenon. The idea is to find your own pathway to bliss.”
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