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A General Theory of Magic

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  142 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
First written by Marcel Mauss and Henri Humbert in 1902, A General Theory of Magic gained a wide new readership when republished by Mauss in 1950. As a study of magic in 'primitive' societies and its survival today in our thoughts and social actions, it represents what Claude Levi-Strauss called, in an introduction to that edition, the astonishing modernity of the mind of ...more
Paperback, 1st edition Routledge Classics, 194 pages
Published May 18th 2001 by Routledge (first published 1902)
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Jun 27, 2016 Trevor rated it it was amazing
I’d never actually heard of this guy before – but I was reading Bourdieu’s lectures on the state and he recommended reading this. So, I tracked it down. Probably the first piece of advice is to skip the foreword and come back to it after you have read the book itself. This is because it assumes you know what Mauss has said anyway and also that you know something of Levi-Strauss’s work – and I’m not sure either is necessary before you start reading and neither make reading this any easier. The fo ...more
Eugene Plawiuk
Nov 03, 2013 Eugene Plawiuk rated it it was amazing
This work is essential for those who want an unvarnished easy to read sociological/anthropological study of ancient magic and shamanism, the witch shaman as outsider, magic predates religion, magic practices control of or over deities, religion requires sacrifice to a deity, prayers to a deity, while magick like science is about understanding nature and natures god(dess) and how the world works, it is a science of empiricism; do this ritual this way and this will happen.
The difference between ma
Jul 21, 2016 Alexander rated it really liked it
What kind of thing is magic, exactly? Or better, what makes magic the kind of thing it is, as distinct from, say, religion, science, art, or philosophy? This is the question that A General Theory of Magic aims to answer. Not a theory FOR magic, but a theory OF magic is set out here in this classic of anthropological research. From shape-shifting to spell-binding, incantation to malediction, Marcel Mauss and Henri Hubert thus scour the arcane terrain of magical practice to draw out its specificit ...more
Aug 19, 2012 Priya rated it really liked it
I loved the book, but was disappointed with the translation.
(Note to self: learn French)
Draco3seven Crawdady
"each one is the whole and the whole is in each one" on why magic.... change something in or out... and you change something in the whole... if obscurity is not you're cup of tea... I suggest you not sit down and pour your self a cup of tea... the subjective and objective are connected... where you act or will is correlated through the ritual/other... Why? Why not? there is a system of categories central to magic thinking... one being sympathetic relationships... "(Mars=war, etc). in summary, fa ...more
Patricio Borvarán
Mar 06, 2015 Patricio Borvarán rated it liked it
You really need to be into magical thinking if you get this book. I mean, is indeed interesting for a while, but later is remarkably evident that instead of the question: how magic works? the question: how a person becomes a believer about magic in this time? is way more interesting and intriguing.
Now, thinking as a person really interested on this, you have a short book, concluding several elements about magic, Frazer is constantly quoted and few times updated, but here is easier and faster to
Mar 29, 2011 Alex rated it liked it
Is magic, which we think about as a highly individualized, secretive, antisocial, instrumental activity as much a 'social construction' as religion, which we think of as collective, public, social, and in-and-for-itself? Yep.
Maurice van Leeuwen
Feb 27, 2012 Maurice van Leeuwen rated it it was amazing
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Mauss was born in Épinal, Vosges to a Jewish family, and studied philosophy at Bordeaux, where his uncle Émile Durkheim was teaching at the time and agregated in 1893. Instead of taking the usual route of teaching at a lycée, however, Mauss moved to Paris and took up the study of comparative religion and the Sanskrit language. His first publication in 1896 marked the beginning of a prolific career ...more
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