The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion
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The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  269 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Sir James George Frazer (1854-1941) is rightly regarded as one of the founders of modern anthropology. This volume is the author's own abridgement of his great work, and was first published in 1922. It offers the thesis that man progresses from magic through religious belief to scientific thought.

Sir James George Frazer (1854-1941) is rightly regarded as one of the founder...more
Paperback, 768 pages
Published 1993 by Wordsworth Editions Ltd
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Michael
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 more 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...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
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 amou...more
Adam
Book Description
A 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 more controversial passages were droppe...more
Walter Five
This is not a "review" of the classic "Golden Bough." This is a review of several hardback and soft back editions available to the collector which are complimentary to each other's content and pagination. The purchaser may wish to take care in selecting which edition of the Golden Bough they consider for purchase. Several hardbound editions exist.

The most common edition is the 2-volume abridged 4th edition,this is the edition supervised by Graves widow; it is woefully incomplete. It seems Mrs. G...more
Isidore
Jul 23, 2009 Isidore added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anybody who enjoys being bathed in textual diarrhea
To be hit upon the head over and over again with the same point illustrated by a million slightly different and equally dry examples. That is what it is to read The Golden Bough. Hundreds of pages roll by and the reading is continued out of spite. At times there is a faint hope that the conclusion will be grand, the payoff enormously worth the pain and trudging it took to arrive. Finally the last page comes into view. Having been read and the book closed only anger, betrayal and confusion remain...more
Welwyn Katz
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 more "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...
David Miller
Frazer weaves a very interesting and intriguing story, and there's no doubting its appeal. At its heart, The Golden Bough is about the root ideas that have grown into the various manifestations of human ritual and culture. Read his explanations of sympathetic magic, and you may almost feel like you've got a handle on it yourself. Follow his interpretation of religious dogmas, and a few points about major faiths may come out looking very different.

But unfortunately, Frazer's conception of the web...more
Skylar Burris
Frasier seems to depict religion as an evolutionary process, from primitive superstition and magic on to a more 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 more) terror than the primitive magicians and priests of old (giving us communism, Nazism, eugenics, etc.);...more
Doreen
I'll be honest, I was relieved to finish this book. It's an exhausting study of why the high priest of Nemi is replaced in the way he is, covering magical and religious practices the world over, and while it's very informative, it is also, to reiterate, exhausting. It's a great anthropology text, and while I certainly came out of it the wiser/smarter, I certainly felt at times that I was studying for a college course and not just reading for pleasure. That said, I'd recommend it for those more t...more
Delicious Strawberry
For anyone serious about mythology, folklore, fairy tales, this book is a must-have. While this book might have never been heard of my many people today who enjoy myths and fairytales, it's a solid classic reference book and was an ambitious project for its time. I can't say much that the other reviewers haven't said already. I'm definitely glad I bought this book, it has been a worthwhile addition to my library. If you're going to buy this book, make sure to buy this specific version, as it has...more
Old-Barbarossa
I read this abridged version. Hard going and at times a wee bit like a broken record (oh, another taboo described in detail...). Having said that it certainly shows that "there's nowt as queer as folk". (Tattooing; food taboos; sacrifices; language use; mutilation; fasting; disposal of nail clippings and bodily waste in general; sex etc). Seriously, people do the oddest things, but in the right cultural setting the acts are sacred and indeed necessary. Now shown to be flawed in bits in his analy...more
Saleris
I have had this edition for a long while - and I now also have picked up the free gutenberg/kindle edition to help me re-read parts of it as often as I want to....it's a big paperback with little print...it's commonly known that this is a flawed book. But it has value as a personal viewpoint of anthropology of the time (1920's) and to that point, whether Frazier's personal philosophy skews the information or not, there is still valid core information of how people might have lived. I hate the se...more
Clare
A fascinating study which I have dipped in and out of, have drawn a lot of inspiration from and enjoyed the language of but not one I have read through. I guess books you use for studying you tend not to.

Another interesting thing about this book is James Frazer himself and how he came to write such a colossal work. This is nothing, there is so much more! Interesting that in order to write about one group of people you can find yourself writing a study of the religions and customs of the human ra...more
Arhia
This book can be dense at times, and somewhat antiquated (the bigotry inherent in such a study during the Victorian era makes me a little sick), but Sir James was quite a brilliant man. I can't comment on the abridgement, as I haven't looked into the original (which is thousands of pages long), but I have not yet been bothered by the sense that something crucial is missing. Overall, I think it is an incredible work and a very beneficial read if one has the patience.
piratemoon
Interesting read - early anthropology, in many ways ahead of its time. This is not a book which wholly denigrates the 'primitive' peoples who make up a large part of its subject, but which locates them at times closer to nature - and to some form of reality - than modern Western man. Yes, it still essentialises them, places them in the ethnographic past, but it does not deny their fundamental worth and impact.
Clifford
I found this book to be unsufferably boring. One hundred years ago it might have been informative, but given the technological advances in anthropology and other modern research techniques it is sadly obsolescent. I didn't learn anything I didn't already know or could discover from another source. I'd rather chew glass than read this book again. A far better reference (at least for us queer folk) is Blossom of Bone.
James Violand
Jun 30, 2014 James Violand rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Inquiring minds.
Shelves: own
Superstition and religion. The cultural - not theological - evolution of religions. A very interesting book, it has a modernist view and takes mythology as a basis for belief in higher powers. Very influential for its time.
Julie
don't know what year the book i read was published, but it was the complete work and not just a section. I would recommend this to anyone interested in myths, legends, paganism (all types) and the rise of religious faiths.
ch
A very thorough effort with some penetrating insight, this book is credited with changing the face of cultural anthropology. Factual errors and shoddy scholarship, along with poor writing, are a problem here, however.
Aleksandra
Classic. One may agree (or, nowayadays, more often disagree) with Frazer's methodology, his ideas and concepts, but for a scholar interested in studying mythology it is a must-read.
Gary Colcombe
An astoundingly wide-ranging work with some fascinating ideas on the nature of sacrifice and the scapegoat. It was a long time ago when I read it and it is doe for a re-read :)
GaryandRuth
An astoundingly wide-ranging work with some fascinating ideas on the nature of sacrifice and the scapegoat. It was a long time ago when I read it and it is doe for a re-read :)
Kendra
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.
Corey
I haven't read this in 14 years. Time to revisit it. A classic, and I remember it being interesting, if dated at the time.
Ammon
So delightfully Edwardian antiquarian, one hardly cares about the quality of the scholarship.
Brooke
Look at gravel, tattoos, and menstrual blood through new eyes.
David Hirt
This book inspired a generation of writers. It's still worth a look.
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Scottish social anthropologist influential in the early stages of the modern studies of mythology and comparative religion.
More about James George Frazer...
The Golden Bough, Abridged The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion, Vol 1 The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion: A New Abridgement (World's Classics) The Golden Bough The Golden Bough: The Roots of Religion and Folklore

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