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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
If you are looking for a text that illustrates various myths and religions internationally, and does so in a condensed manner, then this is a great place to start. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Lars Brown
Was a 1949 copy, great condition, though the picture of item threw me off when I received it. Unexpected, but not disappointing. Fast ship.Published 3 months ago by Lori H.
Fantastic!!! Probably the first study of anthropology. Very tedious reading the thousand and one examples, but contains the perennial wisdom.Published 4 months ago by Frank Theuma
I noticed this book at Colonel Kurtz's bedside in Coppola's Apocalypse Now, along with From Ritual to Romance, and thought to give them a go. I'm glad I did.Published 4 months ago by Eric B
This is a ancient literature survey cast upon pseudoscience anthropology turned into a story about an unstated hypothesis which cannot be tested in any true sense. Read morePublished 5 months ago by John in PA