The Golden Bough

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Canongate Books, Jul 1, 2010 - Religion - 848 pages
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The authoritative 1890 edition with an introduction by Cairns Craig and Frazer’s own afterword. Published originally in two volumes in 1890, this extraordinary study of primitive myth and magic led Scottish anthropologist J.G. Frazer to identify parallel patterns of ritual, symbols and belief across many centuries and many different cultures. His observations on the mysteries of fertility and death, and the rites of the sacrificial king who must die to save his people, overturned much of contemporary intellectual thinking, not least because of the enlightening or ‘heretical’ parallels it suggested with the Christian religion. Frazer’s elegant and authoritative style, and the breadth of his learning inspired a whole generation of ethnographers and comparative anthropologists, and had a particularly powerful effect on many other thinkers and writers such as Sigmund Freud, D.H. Lawrence, Joyce, Yeats and T.S. Eliot. This definitive volume includes the unabridged original 1890 edition as well as several essays and lectures by Frazer. ‘Frazer’s work has epic scale yet mesmerizing fineness of detail. We see the great structures of civilization forming and melting against a background of elemental mystery. The effect is cinematic and sublime.’ Camille Paglia
 

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Review: The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion: A New Abridgement from the Second and Third Editions

User Review  - Matt - Goodreads

As outdated as it is, this is still a critical text, if only to observe a key moment in the history of the discipline. Highly influential, although some of Frazer's anti-Christian polemic has long since been refuted by secular as well as Christian scholarship. Read full review

Contents

The Perils of the Soul
93
Killing the God
183
The Golden Bough
543
Offerings of Firstfruits
671
Totemism
685
The Origin of Totemism
795
The Scope of Social Anthropology
847
Index
889
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About the author (2010)

J. G. Frazer (1854-1941) was born and educated in Glasgow, where he attended the University before going to Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1871 he became a Classics Fellow at Trinity. He was knighted in 1914. He translated work from Greek and wrote fiction, but he is best known as a pioneer of social anthropology and comparative ethnography. Although he has many other titles to his name, none were to have the wide-ranging social and imaginative impact of The Golden Bough (first published in 1890).

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