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The Golden Bough (Illustrated Edition)

The Golden Bough (Illustrated Edition) [Kindle Edition]

James Frazer
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

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Product Description


"Frazer's work has epic scale yet mesmerizing fineness of detail. We see the great structures of civilization forming and melting against a background of elemental mystery. The effect is cinematic and sublime." --Camille Paglia

Product Description

This Dead Dodo edition is formatted specifically for Kindle and features an exclusive Kindle-viewable image gallery containing pictures of the author.

The Golden Bough attempts to define the shared elements of religious belief to The Golden Bough attempts to define the shared elements of religious belief to scientific thought, discussing fertility rites, human sacrifice, the dying god, the scapegoat and many other symbols and practices which have influenced the 20th century. Its thesis is that old religions were fertility cults that revolved around the worship of, and periodic sacrifice of, a sacred king. Specifically, that man progresses from magic through religious belief to scientific thought.

This thesis was concocted around Turner's picture of The Golden Bough, a sacred grove where there grew a certain tree that grew day and night; a transfigured landscape in a dream-like vision of the little wood-land lake of Nemi -- "Diana's Mirror" where religious ceremonies and the "fulfillment of vows" of priests and kings were held.

This king was the incarnation of a dying and reviving god, a solar deity who underwent a mystic marriage to a goddess of the Earth, who died at the harvest, and was reincarnated in the spring. Frazer claims that this legend is central to almost all of the world's mythologies.

The germ for Frazer's thesis was the pre-Roman priest-king at the fane of Nemi, who was murdered ritually by his successor:
"When I first put pen to paper to write The Golden Bough I had no conception of the magnitude of the voyage on which I was embarking; I thought only to explain a single rule of an ancient Italian priesthood."

The book's title was taken from an incident in the Aeneid, illustrated by the British artist Joseph Mallord William Turner: Aeneas and the Sibyl present the golden bough to the gatekeeper of Hades in order to gain admission.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1739 KB
  • Print Length: 631 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1479107441
  • Publisher: Dead Dodo Vintage; 1 edition (6 Jun 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0089H9RAK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #170,131 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
70 of 77 people found the following review helpful
Get the abridged Oxford World's Classics edition which includes Frazer's original speculation on the wholly ritual, and symbolic, nature of Christ's crucifixion and, overall, you'll digest a book that will speak to you in ways you never imagined a book could. A sweeping account, from the very dawn of recorded history to the relative present, of Mankind's beliefs, traditions and rituals, The Golden Bough propels you from the start into an epic true story of nothing less than Mankind's inexhaustable quest for an understanding of - and union with - the mysterious, divine powers that create and sustain the world's existence.

With this remarkable work, so brilliantly researched and weaved together, we learn that universal themes and common tribal practices have been adopted by Man throughout all of history, and across all the world's diverse cultures, suggesting that we really do operate from a "collective unconsciousness", as Swiss therapist Jung termed it.

What is strongly suggested from Frazer's starkly drawn postcards from the past is that the enactment of myth and ritual may actually have a real impact, both esoterically and exoterically, on actual life and nature. It's not all cosmetic or mere superstition. And, indeed, once we re-engage with these universal, deeply rooted ideas, we might even find a registering of their phenomena in our personal and collective psyche. Reading this book for these metaphysical side effects alone is worth the investment!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A CLASSIC 26 Feb 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a fundamental classic which every educated person should have read or ought to read. It is immensely interesting and important. I have just started to read it again so this review is a recollection of over thirty years ago when I first read it. It is an unexpected revelation of an unexplored area of Man's Cultural History. When I first read it all these years ago it was a well known work and widely read. My impression is that it is a forgotten masterpiece, neither popular nor widely read today which is a great pity. It is also a huge work so dont start until you have a vast amount of time to devote to reading it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Trellia
Long, repetitive, dated...and yet utterly gripping. When reading this book, it is tempting to believe that it holds the key to explaining all aspects of symbolic and ritualistic behaviour, from casual superstition to world religion.

Using the concept of sympathetic magic as a basis, Frazer outlines the origin of religion from its origins in 'primitive' animism and witchcraft. It takes a thematic approach, using a huge number of examples of particular ritualistic behaviour from cultures around the world, to illustrate the reasons behind common traits in world beliefs. The result is a comprehensive and convincing study that explains almost every kind of rite and ritual - even those that still pervade in modern times.

Despite its academic tone and (literally) weighty volume, Golden Bough is surprisingly easy reading. What's more, although it is sequential, once you have read the first section (which outlines the concept of sympathetic magic), it is possible to read the book from any section - and I guarantee that there is something to surprise and intrigue on every page.

On its downsides, the lack of citations or bibliography does mean that the reader has to trust that Frazer's accounts of world cultures (many of which are bizarre in the extreme) are genuine, and not fabrications invented merely to support his theories. From a stylistic perspective, I imagine many would find the book's typical structure (outline of theory -> huge number of anecdotal examples to support theory -> progression to next theory) rather laborious at times.

Despite this, I still found this book a very rewarding and inspiring work, and recommend as essential reading for anyone with an interest in mythology, religion and spirituality.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Towering work 26 Mar 2010
With an encyclopaedic knowledge, the diverse cultural practices of mans expression of spiritualism are laid out in astounding detail. thousands of Pagan, Christian and other religious customs and practices are described. The symbolism of the Yule log, the significance of the Bull in Greek mythology to its arrival in India as to sacred cow, to its transformation into the Pig by the time it reaches China centuries later! The siginificance of dances, burial customs, birth rites, and just about every conceivable cultural practice are covered in this book.
This is an indispensible guide to any anthropologist living with natives and teasing out abstruse and dying customs. Frazer has covered almost every society, and this book as a source for cross referencing of religious and spiritual cultural practices is unsurpassable by any modern author. A real classic that shows the common origins of man, through the commonality and diversity of his practices.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be on the A Level curriculum
I first read this book 40 years ago and never forgot it. Never has the foundations of magic and religion been so demonstrated and understood even in later so called psychological... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mr. Alan Mcthredder
3.0 out of 5 stars More a catalogue than a book
This is one of the great classics on ancient religion for historians and no one can doubt the volume of hard work that Sir James George Frazer put into the compilation. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Dr. W. H. Konarzewski
5.0 out of 5 stars What it says on the cover.
It's golden and it's a bough. You can't say any better than that. Is that how you spell 'book'? it's blue.
Published 1 month ago by R. LONG
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic
Essential reading for everyone interested in the origins of religion.
(Dated and un-PC in many ways, of course.)
Read it before you die.
Published 3 months ago by lorim
5.0 out of 5 stars endless exotic tomb
the best 'pick up-put down' book ever written! recommended for bathrooms everywhere! so much history, myth and religious info you can go back again and again, barbarous, hilarious... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Dawn
4.0 out of 5 stars The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion
A classic that should be on every book shelf, this is a fascinating book that forms the basis of much thought and development today. It is still a reference book of worth.
Published 4 months ago by Marran Grey
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
I gave a hard copy to a friend, but for me bought the Kindle edition. Incredible read, anthropology and religion studied together, does not make my faith any lesser.
Published 11 months ago by eager reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Hard going to be honest but interesting nonetheless.
Very informative about long ago cultural ways now long gone but not forgotten.
Published 12 months ago by M-Tron
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind boggling overkill and that's just the abridged version
I love the Golden Bough. Brought up with it by my atheist father. However it backfired. Far from disproving Christianity it conclusively shows it is mythologically correct! Read more
Published 15 months ago by Melchy
3.0 out of 5 stars A seminal work
Mr Casaubon in "Middlemarch" famously is writing "The Key to All Mythologies". His researches become bogged down in an ever-increasing swamp of footnotes, cross-references and... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Peasant
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