In Flight of the Wild Gander, renowned mythologist Joseph Campbell—in his first collection of essays, written between 1944 and 1968—explores the individual and geographical origins of myth, outlining the full range of mythology from Grimm’s fairy tales to American Indian legends. Originally published in 1969, this collection describes the symbolic content of stories: how they are linked to human experience and how they—along with our experiences—have changed over time. Throughout, Campbell explores the function of mythology in everyday life and the forms it may take in the future.
Included are some of Campbell’s first groundbreaking essays: “Bios and Mythos” and “Primitive Man as Metaphysician,” both of which examine the biological basis and necessity for story and mythology, and establish mythology as a basic function or fact of nature. Campbell’s essay “Mythogenesis” turns from the natural and biological to the cultural and historical—the rise, flowering, and decline of a particular myth, a single American Indian legend. Campbell explores how the myth was born, as well as the personal experiences of the visionary medicine man through whose memory the myth was preserved.