The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion (Penguin Twentieth Century Classics)

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9780140189315: The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion (Penguin Twentieth Century Classics)

Sir James George Frazer (1854-1941) caught the popular imagination with his vast and enterprising comparative study of the beliefs and institutions of mankind, which in its third edition numbered 12 volumes. Reissued here is Frazer's own single-volume abridgement of 1922.

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Review:

"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. What I took from Frazer is his narrative sweep, multicultural sympathy and structuralist technique . . . The Golden Bough is like music - the dark resonance of Johannes Brahms' four symphonies, which inspired my "reading" of Western culture and its recurrent themes." (Camille Paglia)

"Equally remarkable for its vast assembly of facts and its unusual charm of presentation. Few men of such learning have written more attractively." ( Concise Cambridge History of English Literature)

From the Back Cover:

The Golden Bough

J. G. Frazer

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 additional 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

Cover: bronze leaf-shaped sword from the River Tay near Mugdrum Island, photographed by Neil McLean, courtesy of the Trustees of the National Museums of Scotland.

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