Iron John: A Book about Men

Iron John: A Book About Men (1990), the American poet Robert Bly's interpretation of the German fairy tale “Der Eisenhans,” became a foundational text for the mythopoetic men's movement of the 1990s. Concerned that modern American men had become alienated from the source of their masculinity, he proposed the recovery of that identity through a regimen of healing ritual.

In the book, Bly measures late-twentieth-century American manhood against a romanticized preindustrial past in which males lived in close contact with nature, received ritual instruction in their passage through adolescence, and learned healthy male behavior by working alongside their fathers. According to Bly, the Industrial Revolution separated fathers from sons and robbed men of their connection with nature and each other, leaving men unable to feel or ...

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