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The Golden Bough


The Golden Bough


James Frazer’s monumental study of world mythology and folklore has been a classic work for over a century, highlighting the parallels between the rites and beliefs, superstitions and taboos of early cultures and those of Christianity.

His most famous work, The Golden Bough details the similarities among magical and religious beliefs around the globe.

Frazer theorized that human belief progressed through three stages: primitive magic, then religion, which was in turn replaced by science.

The Golden Bough has also had a major impact on psychology and literature.

Its literary impact has given it continued life: William Butler Yeats makes reference to it in his poem, "Sailing to Byzantium". H. P. Lovecraft mentions the book in his short story "The Call of Cthulhu". T. S. Eliot acknowledged indebtedness to Frazer in his first note to his poem The Waste Land. The Golden Bough attempts to define the shared elements of religious belief and scientific thought, discussing fertility rites, human sacrifice, and many other symbols and practices whose influence has extended into our twenty-first century culture.

The Golden Bough remains essential reading for anyone interested in mythology, supernatural magic or religion and continues to be a primary anthropological resource.

SIR JAMES GEORGE FRAZER (1854–1941) was a Scottish social anthropologist influential in the early stages of the modern studies of mythology and comparative religion. He is often considered one of the founding fathers of modern anthropology.


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