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Golden Bough (Wordsworth Collection) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 6. September 1995

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Taschenbuch, 6. September 1995
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Before Joseph Campbell became the world's most famous practitioner of comparative mythology, there was Sir James George Frazer. The Golden Bough was originally published in two volumes in 1890, but Frazer became so enamored of his topic that over the next few decades he expanded the work sixfold, then in 1922 cut it all down to a single thick edition suitable for mass distribution. The thesis on the origins of magic and religion that it elaborates "will be long and laborious," Frazer warns readers, "but may possess something of the charm of a voyage of discovery, in which we shall visit many strange lands, with strange foreign peoples, and still stranger customs." Chief among those customs--at least as the book is remembered in the popular imagination--is the sacrificial killing of god-kings to ensure bountiful harvests, which Frazer traces through several cultures, including in his elaborations the myths of Adonis, Osiris, and Balder.

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 -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.


"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" -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Taschenbuch.

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"The Golden Bough: A study in Magic and Religion" erschien erstmals 1890, damals in zwei Bänden. Zwischen 1906 und 1915 erschien die dritte Auflage, die es dann immerhin auf zwölf Bände brachte. Mir liegt seit vielen Jahren eine gekürzte Fassung von "The Golden Bough" vor, die 1959 erschienen ist. Ich schätze Sir George Frazers Werk sehr. Wie kaum ein zweiter Forscher spezialisiert er sich nicht auf ein eng begrenztes Spezialgebiet, sondern schafft ein unglaublich wertvolles, Grenzen sprngendes Opus. Er stellt Vergleiche an, weist faszinierende Parallelen zwischen vermeintlich unterschiedlichen Kulturen auf und eröffnet uns Lesern einen Pfad zu den Geheimnissen der Menschheit. Die Kindle-Ausgabe ist mir schon sehr ans Herz gewachsen, allein schon wegen der Suchfunktion, die sich immer wieder als sehr hilfreich erweist! Sie ist für jeden, der sich für die Wurzeln des Menschseins interessiert, eine wertvolle Hilfe! Sir Frazers Opus hat bis heute keinen Nachfolger gefunden, der mit "The Golden Bough" verglichen werden dürfte!
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If you are the type of person whose spirit gravitates to the simple (not simplistic, but simple)answers to some of the most complex and seemingly unrelated questions, and those answers desired consist of the type philosphers, poets and artists/scientists have been looking for (with varied success) for millenia, then you just might enjoy this book. Camile Paglia's SEXUAL PERSONAE, heavily indebted to this and the major works of Freud by her own proud admission, is what led me to this pretty staggering work for its time. It is relatively easy to make someone's brain hurt with a lot of scholar talk, where one is saying nothing; this book is great because it is *sensational*, in the truest sense of the word. This is one of the first of the many books about religion and the history of man that put my stomach up in knots, as it simultaneously gave me the power to look beyond the fabrication of ancient Greek philosophical society and Judeo-Christian heritage as the summit of man's knowledge. (Not that that was ever a problem for me consciously, but unconsciously I doubt anyone without reading a book like this has moved beyond it.) This is one of the books that made a new approach to the understanding of man and a paradigm shift as to how we have mentally, emotionally and spiritually developed not only possible, but inevitable.
What could keep this monument from receiving five stars will be fairly obvious to any reader: the prejudices of his time.
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Frazer's classic "The Golden Bough" may justifiably be called the foundation that modern anthropology is based on. While it has been discredited in some areas since it's 1st publication, it has stood the test of time remarkably well. It's still the best book I know of to explain the origins of magical & religious thought to a new student of comparative religions. I would especially suggest it to anyone interested in mythology, supernatural magic or religion, especially any of the modern neo-pagan religions. More than one critic has said that it should be required reading for everyone.
Originally, Frazer sought to explain the strange custom at an Italian sacred grove near the city of Aricia. He wanted to know why it was custom there for a priest of Diana to continually guard a sacred tree with his life. Why was it required that this pagan priest murder anyone who dares to break a branch from the tree & why were so many willing to risk their lives to do so? What power did this broken branch have that made it a symbol of the priests own coming death? Why could the priest only be relieved of his position by being ritually murdered & who in their right mind would strive to take his place?
What Frazer discovered in his search for answers went well beyond what he expected to find. He very quickly found himself surrounded by ancient pagan beliefs & magic rituals that were as old as mankind & just as widespread. He slowly reveals to us, by way of hundreds of examples, that ancient or primitive man was bound up in a never ending web of taboos & restrictions that regulated his existence here on earth. Every move, spoken word or even thought could swing the powers of the divine for or against pagan man.
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The Golden Bough is a remarkable and inspiring book. Although some of the evidence presented is outdated, it remains a seminal work for its rigorous scientific approach, as well as for the depth and insight the author puts in his analysis. Frazer uses the wealth of material presented in the book to reveal some of the deepest - and sometimes disquieting - aspects of the human character. This is essential reading for all who want to explore human nature and the tyes existing between present day civilisation and the world of our ancestors. Even today, the book retains the originality and freshness of approach that have contributed to make it a classic ever since its first publication.
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