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The 25th anniversary edition of the groundbreaking New York Times bestseller, with a new afterword by the author--which offers a new vision of what it is to be a man
In this timeless and deeply learned classic, poet and translator Robert Bly offers nothing less than a new vision of what it means to be a man.
Bly's vision is based on his ongoing work with men, as well as on reflections on his own life. He addresses the devastating effects of remote fathers and mourns the disappearance of male initiation rites in our culture. Finding rich meaning in ancient stories and legends, Bly uses the Grimm fairy tale "Iron John"-in which a mentor or "Wild Man" guides a young man through eight stages of male growth-to remind us of ways of knowing long forgotten, images of deep and vigorous masculinity centered in feeling and protective of the young.
At once down-to-earth and elevated, combining the grandeur of myth with the practical and often painful lessons of our own histories, Iron John is an astonishing work that will continue to guide and inspire men-and women-for years to come.
Today's sensitized male may be in touch with his ``feminine'' side, but, writes poet Bly, this ``soft male'' possesses little vitality and is hobbled by grief and anguish. To achieve real masculinity, Bly argues, men must cultivate a fierce tenderness to be found neither in the macho/John Wayne model nor in the ``interior feminine.'' Taking as his starting point the Grimm fairy tale ``Iron John,'' the author sets forth an eight-stage initiatory path whose steps include remembering one's psychic wounds, communion with a mentor or ``inner King,'' becoming a lover, reviving one's inner warriors and receiving a ``second heart.'' Bly avoids cant as he ransacks Jung, Freud and Reich; referents include Greek, Egyptian and Celtic myths, the Parsifal legend, Blake and Amerindian ritual. A wise and healing book full of fresh insights, Bly's odyssey will help men grapple with identity, fatherhood, relationships and such crises as addiction and divorce.