Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book, would benefit from more concise abridgement, 19 Nov 2009
This review is from: The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion: A Study in Magic and Religion: A New Abridgement from the Second and Third Editions (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
This is a fascinating book, covering a huge span of history and culture, and makes some remarkable (and at times quite controversial) points in a refreshingly modest and understated way. Indeed, often it is what Frazer doesn't say that makes the greatest impact: on occasion he will furnish all the evidence, even drop little hints and clues, subtly flirt with an idea: as a reader you think you've prematurely guessed the conclusion that he does not, in fact, go on to make. Thus the receptive reader takes onboard profound ideas that Frazer does not even need to articulate. Powerful stuff.

The writing is, at times, beautiful: sheer pleasure to read. At other times, it is somewhat workmanlike - no doubt because there was so much material to get through. It is easy to spot the passages in which Frazer has allowed his natural creativity to flow into his writing, and one gets the impression that they were as enjoyable to write as they are to read.

My only criticism of this abridgement is that for each point made, too many examples are given, and those examples are sometimes very similar. A fairly rigid pattern of 'point followed by examples' is set up and does become rather repetitive, at times reading through Frazer's examples is a real chore, especially when he is not able to offer much in the way of variety, and the edges of some wonderful points and observations are subsequently blunted by the abundance of evidence the reader is required to plough through. Oxford's abridgement is probably perfectly pitched for students and academics, but perhaps a little cumbersome for the general reader. That said, I have not read the other abridgements and for all I know this may well be the best - I did enjoy it (though it took me a while to read it) and I would certainly recommend it without hesitation to anyone with an enquiring mind.
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