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 enad 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 distBefore 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 enad 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 Further, 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 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
The Golden Bough A Study in Magic and Religion A New Abridgement 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 but Fra
I read an abridged version of this some years ago that I picked up in a bookshop for a pound the output of a cheap publisher It was a slow and awkward read, possibly because of the abridgement, but the original was long and appeared in numerous editions each of which tended to get elaborate during Frazer s lifetime.The opening echoes Gibbon s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the British scholar in Italy looks over the landscape and allows a vision of the past, the product of their classica [...]
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Influential without bound and ere breaking of ground, this is undeniably a major modern classic that reshaped its entire field Of course, most of Frazier s theses have been broadly discredited, but it s not like you re studying comparative mythology to build bridges with it although it s been proposed that unsold copies of Joseph Campbell, shredded to a fine mist, would provide high quality industrial weathering and cheap insulation suitable for the Third World.That having been said, this book i [...]
Discovering The Golden Bough, and then Graves The White Goddess which owes a critically huge debt to the Golden Bough , was a life changing time for me that recast the stories I had vacuumed up at that age, from Greek myths to Kipling, as about something than their contents or even the authors intent It was first published over 100 years ago still, nothing can get a boy into that modernist, meta meta meta perspective on society like The Golden Bough Of course it s only fair that we turn the len [...]
This is such an important work If you take it from the perspective of what it is, an anthology of rituals and belief systems found in religious and non religious cultures across the globe As some other readers have pointed out it is not linear, it is also not well coordinated in way of connecting points and making laying out statements about those points But what it is absolutely superb and unbeatable in, is its exhaustive amount of information I did read the full version, and the sheer amount o [...]
One simply cannot, in my opinion, understand anything about the history and origins of religion and of society for the primitive social unit, the family, is primarily a religious unit without a thorough mastery of this book.In this context, a study of de Fustel Coulanges is also essential review show
The Golden Bough is no doubt an exercise in patience To be clear, I have not finished this book, and will not for many years This book takes time to digest and fully understand, but once that time is taken to contemplate it, literally everything that can be seen in the world opens up to the insights that are provided Expecting to read this book once, without careful pause and effort, is akin to attempting to understand the enlightenment of the ages in an afternoon I can see how many parts of The [...]
Book DescriptionA classic study of the beliefs and institutions of mankind, and the progress through magic and religion to scientific thought, The Golden Bough has a unique status in modern anthropology and literature First published in 1890, The Golden Bough was eventually issued in a twelve volume edition 1906 15 which was abridged in 1922 by the author and his wife That abridgement has never been reconsidered for a modern audience In it some of the controversial passages were dropped, includ [...]
I read this, like many people, because I know how influential it was I studied English in college, and this book always kept cropping up So I thought to myself, maybe if I read this, I ll have a greater understanding of Modernist writers RightHow to describe this 850 pages of poorly argued drivel The only part worth reading is the section on sympathetic magic That part at least actually seems to be going somewhere and actually makes sense It s an interesting and intelligent way of thinking about [...]
This is an abridgment of a much larger work by Frazer that compiles, categorizes and interprets the belief systems of very old cultures It s easy to get overwhelmed by the extensive listing of examples that Frazer provides unless these are viewed as attempts by these cultures to understand and control nature through magical practices These practices for Frazer appear to manifest deeper structures surrounding human need and fear In short, Frazer writes, they reflect the essential similiarities of [...]
As Albert Einstein is to physics, Charles Darwin to biology, Karl Marx to social theory and Sigmund Freud to psychology, so is Sir James G Frazer to anthropology The Golden Bough is an ambitious work in which Frazer works with field reports describing superstitions and practices, and theorizes that the folk rituals he discusses can be traced back to ancient times and an annual event in the forest at Nemi From a contemporary point of view, it can be argued that Frazer s approach is reductive, and [...]
This is a brilliant and disturbing distillation of Frazer s much longer and doggedly scholarly original work I ve come across it late the edition I ve got is dated 1978 I bought it second hand four years ago at Ventnor Rare Books on the Isle of Wight and have only just got around to reading it If anything, the illustrations make the text all the shocking Reading about belief systems where human sacrifice was commonplace is one thing seeing those sacrifices depicted in contemporary artwork is qu [...]
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A classic, groundbreaking piece of comparative mythology and anthropology It s influenced Jung, Campbell, T.S Eliot and even Apocalypse Now It s a bit dated, particularly in its sticking to the primitive savage evolves into sophisticated civilization model, but alot of the basic principals are still very sound Frazer starts a single incident, a Latin ritual of a King of the Forest, who is ritually killed and replaced by his successor He uses this a launching pad for a far reaching, global discus [...]
i didn t actually finish this i valiantly read on to page 368 until the repetition, racism, imperialism and sexism wore me down every time, after several pages of examples, JGF said something like, a few examples will suffice to prove , i wanted to stab myself in the necke content is actually very interesting although i bummed to hear that a lot of it has been discredited and just thinking about how he organised all this information blows my mind, but, see paragraph one.a huge weight has just b [...]
How I could possibly have highlighted so much of this book and yet not actually read it is a pure freakin mystery.
It s a really profound and interesting study of the origins of mythology and religion.Since it s extensively referenced as being a great influence on the early 20th century literature, I just had to read it I strongly recommend it to everybody who is interested in the origins of modern literature and poetry, since it explains a lot of themes and motives that were developed by the major modernist writers.
It was a great favour done to mankind when Frazer and his wife chose to condense the original twelve volumes into one volume even the single volume appears so repetitive one can only imagine the ordeal that s he that tries to read all the twelve has to undergo.That said, I believe that Frazer s work twelve volumes or one is an immense contribution to the realm of anthropology though one may not agree with all its contentions, it undoubtedly provides one structured framework for the entirety of m [...]
It s important to bear in mind that this book is almost 100 years old, and therefore some of the author s attitudes are narrow minded, to say the least However, Frazer is open than usual for his time, I think, and his look at folkloric and religious customs is exhaustive I read the abridged version, which was over 800 pages long and meandered widely through numerous cultures, so I can only imagine what the unabridged Golden Bough is like He ties a great many disparate ideas together, and for a [...]
Reference reread Sept 6, 2017.Okay I actually have 2 copies of this book, same ISBN, but 2 different fronts The chapter breakdowns are a tad different as well, which is why I ve kept both.
The classic book of comparative mythology Between this and Joseph Campbell s Hero with a Thousand Faces, I came to realize the universality of belief in the dead and reborn demigod at the heart of nearly all the world s religions edit Like this review yes 0 comments.
This is a book, like one of Borges s favorite conceits, with a secret meaning underneath its stated one Explicitly, Frazer s aim is to explain the mysterious tradition of the priest of the sacred grove of Diana at the lake of Nemi, who gained his post by stealing a golden bough from the grove and killing the current priest, taking his place, until killed in his turn by the next contender Frazer recounts and then dismisses the explanations in the classical sources, saying they are clearly ahistor [...]
As with so many of my scholarly books on mythology and comparative studies of myths and legends, I read them in an ongoing sort of way They are great resources for writers who like to mix myth into their ordinary fiction This one is a bit story like than e.g Graves The White Goddess and so it s a lot easier to read It s still not easy I m not a scholar of mythology, but I love to know about it Maybe if I live to be 96 and my eyesight and brains hold out
This book is swarming with folklore, mythology and animistic ritual examples Pretty much the entire book is dedicated to short explanations of ritual practices from all over the globe What it lacks is much in the way of a linear, coherent argument or point.
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An amazing read This book was recommended to me after reading The White Goddess by Robert Graves and in comparing the two, Frazer is at once informative and dispassionate, if not as mystical as Graves The study of ancient ritual is enchanting and describes the forced death and rebirth of the vegetation god in all his forms, all over the world, in exhaustive detail.
Frasier seems to depict religion as an evolutionary process, from primitive superstition and magic on to a refined monotheism, finally culminating in enlightened scientific thought We find Darwin in absolutely everything these days The problem with such a depiction, however, is that the enlightened scientitificism and rationalism of modern times has created just as much if not far terror than the primitive magicians and priests of old giving us communism, Nazism, eugenics, etc superstition and [...]