I kept trying to make this into two essays, one about coming-of-age stories and one about quests, and I kept not being able to write either one of them.
And then, driving to a class I’m taking for my day job, singing R.E.M. songs (as one does), I suddenly remembered that a coming-of-age story is a quest, and a quest, as Joseph Campbell tells us, is a coming-of-age story. On the level of symbols and archetypes and fairytale forests, they’re the same thing. Writing about them separately was never going to work.