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Hardcover Iron John: A Book about Men Book

ISBN: 0201517205

ISBN13: 9780201517200

Iron John: A Book about Men

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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

Here, using the Grimm Fairy tale Iron John as a vehicle, Bly explores the myths and cultural underpinnings of a distinctly vigorous male mode of feeling, a combination of fierceness and tenderness long since sacrificed to the demands of the industrial revolution.

Customer Reviews

6 ratings

Brilliant for Building the Healthy Masculine

Much like Jordan Peterson uses allegory and myth to connect with human psychology, Robert Bly is able to entangle the reader in a story and self-help narrative simultaneously. Telling of how the development of the male mind is akin to Renaissance (and earlier) mythos, and hasn't changed at its core, although its appearance has. A great read, empowering, and promoting healthy, approachable self-help and development. Fantastic for those combatting low self-esteem or seeking purpose. A great companion book would be "Gods in Every Man" or "Owning Your Own Shadow".

A ground breaking work for the masculine psyche

Ten years ago when I was first told about Iron John, I remember buying the book, scanning a few pages only to put it on the book shelf. I just didn't get it. Nearly 2 years later I picked it up and began reading. Now I couldn't put it down. I suppose my time had come and now everything Bly described was deeply felt. I suspect some young readers-both male and female won't truly understand the gravity of what Robert Bly is saying. But as is the mark of a truly great work, the reader can go back again and again, gleaning a little more understanding with each reading.Robert Bly has a firm grasp of Jungian psychology and uses metaphor throughout the book as large brush strokes on a blank canvas. I will go as far to say this is a "must read" for all men over 35. A "should read" for anyone wanting to better understand the male psyche, the events leading to the appearance of what Bly calls the "50s male" and the following retreat into the "soft male" of the 70s and 80s.The alternitive the author describes can be then a man who has centered himself between these two polar opposites, needing not to act out old macho stereotypes nor carry the wounds of the feminine psyche. I suspect this is a man who has found his own way and a man that women can trust as well.

A Few Hints

This book has been well summarized and reviewed, but here are a few hints to those considering buying it. (1) This is not a work of academic sociology. Do not come to Iron John for suggestions about social policy for your dissertation or articles. He does not regard professors as intellectuals, but rather puts them in the same category as businessmen or others trapped on soulless career tracks. Creative people are driven from academe quite early, in grad school, and Bly knows it. (2) This is a suggestive, exploratory, poetic attempt to use myth as a form of guidance for people in their real lives. That is, Bly seems more interested in throwing out powerful images and myths concerning men and men's lives and trying to make sense of them within our context of media-saturated consciousness than he is in traditional academic argument. It's an alternative to academic approaches, not in competition with them, and that is partly what makes it so wonderful: we're free to grasp at what interests us and leave what doesn't. Swimming in the questions is a beautiful thing. (3) Bly was an old 60s activist. If you can't bear the thought of someone not being conservative then don't read Bly. If, like me, you're conservative but not Republican, you'll be fine. (4) Having spent ten years in academe before running, screaming, in the opposite direction, I can tell you that Bly is no kow-towing feminist and no victimologist. Anyone who thinks Bly is too feminist needs to be stranded in a Women's Studies department for an afternoon. Then you'll come to him begging forgiveness. Bly is too careful of the feminists, I agree, but they're after him every step of the way trying to shut him up. He's despised by gender fascists, who see him as an advocate of violence against women. For them, a man is merely a potential rapist, end of discussion, and any attempt to portray them otherwise is seen as a pure wish to attack all women and bring harm to them. As for victimology, Bly is not seeing men as victims, alone, but as people who don't fit the above feminist profile everywhere and all the time. There are sick, brutal men, of course, but Bly wants to help men to see that they can be happier and more fulfilled if they dispense with both the feminist cliches and mass-media stud cliches and try to get in touch with something deeper, something with a lineage back into the furthest reaches of history, and something profoundly important to all men. He's very conservative in this way, as am I, and wants to restore some of the virtues of a strong, responsible, mature man whose strength is not a danger to women. Is that so evil? (5) Bly has mean things to say about New Age, contrary to what people seem to think would be the case. He treats New Age as what it is: floating, indecisive, maleable, pleasantries that never really provide a basis for anything. Bly wants grounding for men in myths and initiations that are robust and strong, and New Age is anything but that. (6) Read Bly with

Right on the Money

In this book, Bly attempts to use the fairy tale of 'Iron John' as a metaphor for the initiation of a boy into a responsible man. Once the initiation is complete, after a series of symbolic adventures, a responsible man emerges. In each section of the book, Bly reveals a piece of the story as a stage in the boy's development, often accompanying the tale with mythological, social, and cultural themes. This book is about men, for men. Bly feels men are in trouble, and tries to explain why. He also attempts to give a definition of what a real man is. A real man is one who has the courage and conviction to fight, but also has the compassion and tenderness to feel. Men in our society seem to be too much on one side or the other. We have too many wild, violent, brutal men with no feeling. We also have too many submissive, weak, 'Yes Dear' type of men... He tries to give reasons for this 'downfall', using important themes such as: 1) Young men without responsible, older men in their lives, 2) The industrial revolution separating father from son 3) The elimination our link to nature as a result of the Industrial Revolution, and 4) How the feminist movement, while absolutely necessary, has had an adverse effect of creating a culture which portrays men as complete idiots.I found many passages where I felt Bly was right on the money. I had several revelations and epiphanies while reading this book, things I've always known but never realized. Until now. This is great stuff. A very important book, I believe, and could be used for various purposes such as instruction or counseling. Men everywhere could benefit from reading this, in my opinion..

Wanna be a man? Knock out a tooth!

A lot of reviews have already been written about this book. Why add another? Well, right now, I'm reading this book for the third time in two years and that has not happened to me with any other book I've read. Even when you feel, as I did, that Bly's style of writing is at times so suggestive that you start wondering if he can fully understand and grasp the meaning of everything he is writing about himself, and even if you agree that the quoted poetry is a bit out of touch with the rest of the text, this book is a real mind-grabber.Everytime I read it, I am bewitched by its strong images, its powerful, hypnotic rhythm and the beautiful horizon that lies ahead. The book is not very long, but it takes me several weeks to get through it. But that is because as soon as I find myself reading to 'get it over with', I close the book (and my eyes) and put it aside for a while. This "man's stuff" is hard work and you should take your time for it. Take a bath in the book and come out completely refreshed. As I come to think of it, Bly's occasional haziness probably is what makes this book so truly hypnotizing. And if you want to break the spell and get a 'how to' sequel to this book, you can always pick up the beautiful 'King, Warrior, Magician, Lover' by Moore and Gilette. They will put your feet on the ground again - at least until the next time you pick up 'Iron John', that is.And thus, for contributing this book to a field where valid generalizations are hard to make and, consequently, "facts about men" that every man could agree on are rare, and for writing it even though every sentence could cause all-out war between the sexes (or between Christians, schoolteachers, the Society for the Promotion of Harmless Books and the Military, for that matter), this book -and its author- really deserve each of the five stars.

Recommend that you hear rather than read this book.

The actions and reactions of the men in my life has always been a source of continual amazement to me. I gained some background understanding of why these men fail to be 'manly', and why they seem to be filled with rage and sorrow when I read the book 'Iron John' several years ago. Recently I picked up the audio copy and have found that hearing the author, poet Robert Bly, read the material makes it much more meaningful. Mr. Bly stresses the male need for older men to initiate young men into adult manhood. Since this society does not provide meaningful male initiation, he offers some direction for men to ritually work through the process themselves, based on the old fairy tale of Iron John. This is a practical yet deeply resonant book, and I strongly recommend it in the tape version.
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