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The Golden Bough : A Study in Comparative…

The Golden Bough : A Study in Comparative Religion (1890)

by James George Frazer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
This book was fascinating. It talks about rituals and ideas that came from superstitious beliefs, and how those beliefs evolved over time. I don't know if this is the full version of the book, since I heard that this version is abridged, but it is already pretty long, so I don't know what they cut out to make it shorter. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
I recall reading this book quite a few years ago, when I was a new Wiccan. I recall thinking that it had rehashed just enough mythology to be annoying, but not especially revealing, so I did not take notes on it. I suppose I shall have to read it again.
  FourFreedoms | May 17, 2019 |
I recall reading this book quite a few years ago, when I was a new Wiccan. I recall thinking that it had rehashed just enough mythology to be annoying, but not especially revealing, so I did not take notes on it. I suppose I shall have to read it again.
  ShiraDest | Mar 6, 2019 |
It's important to note that the abridged version of this book, aside from being abridged, omits Frazer's most groundbreaking and controversial (at the time) thesis, regarding Christianity's relationship to the rest of humankind's myriad religions. ( )
  therebelprince | Oct 30, 2018 |
I loved my journey with this book. It is a fascinating tale of ancient rites carried out by primitive minds. The only draw back of the book is the bland repetitive examples of the same charm and idea, but this book still gets my five stars. ( )
1 vote Mohamed80 | Jul 11, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Frazer, James GeorgeAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
De Bosis, LauroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stocking, George W., Jr.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Longior undecimi nobis decimique libelli
Artatus labor est et breve rasit opus.
Plura legant vacui.

MARTIAL, xii. S.
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Who does not know Turner’s picture of the Golden Bough?
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Frazer's own 1922 abridgment of his 12-volume work, originally published in two volumes but now usually published in one. Please don't combine with the multi-volume (8 to 15 volumes) sets, with any of its separate volumes, nor with either of the the "new" abridgments edited by Theodore Gaster (1959) or Robert Fraser (1998), nor with any edition titled Illustrated Golden Bough, of which there are at least two with different editors doing the abridgment, unless you know they are using the 1922 Frazer text. To add to the confusion, some editions claim to be "unabridged" because they are unabridged from Frazer's original 1890 two-volume publication, not the best-known multi-volume third edition (1906-1915).

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684826305, Paperback)

Before Joseph Campbell became the world's most famous practitioner of comparative mythology, there was Sir James George Frazer. The Golden Bough was originally published in two volumes in 1890, but Frazer became so enamored of his topic that over the next few decades he expanded the work sixfold, then in 1922 cut it all down to a single thick edition suitable for mass distribution. The thesis on the origins of magic and religion that it elaborates "will be long and laborious," Frazer warns readers, "but may possess something of the charm of a voyage of discovery, in which we shall visit many strange lands, with strange foreign peoples, and still stranger customs." Chief among those customs--at least as the book is remembered in the popular imagination--is the sacrificial killing of god-kings to ensure bountiful harvests, which Frazer traces through several cultures, including in his elaborations the myths of Adonis, Osiris, and Balder.

While highly influential in its day, The Golden Bough has come under harsh critical scrutiny in subsequent decades, with many of its descriptions of regional folklore and legends deemed less than reliable. Furthermore, much of its tone is rooted in a philosophy of social Darwinism--sheer cultural imperialism, really--that finds its most explicit form in Frazer's rhetorical question: "If in the most backward state of human society now known to us we find magic thus conspicuously present and religion conspicuously absent, may we not reasonably conjecture that the civilised races of the world have also at some period of their history passed through a similar intellectual phase?" (The truly civilized races, he goes on to say later, though not particularly loudly, are the ones whose minds evolve beyond religious belief to embrace the rational structures of scientific thought.) Frazer was much too genteel to state plainly that "primitive" races believe in magic because they are too stupid and backwards to know any better; instead he remarks that "a savage hardly conceives the distinction commonly drawn by more advanced peoples between the natural and the supernatural." And he certainly was not about to make explicit the logical extension of his theories--"that Christian legend, dogma, and ritual" (to quote Robert Graves's summation of Frazer in The White Goddess) "are the refinement of a great body of primitive and barbarous beliefs." Whatever modern readers have come to think of the book, however, its historical significance and the eloquence with which Frazer attempts to develop what one might call a unifying theory of anthropology cannot be denied. --Ron Hogan

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:30 -0400)

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A survey of myth, magic and religion through the whole spectrum of world and time.

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