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Publisher's Summary

Just as Proust derives an entire world of feeling, people and events from the taste of a madeleine, James G. Frazer brings us into a worldwide survey of religion, folklore, culture, symbolism, and ritual using the Priest of Nemi as his starting point. Starting from the image of the lonely, doomed high priest, prowling his precinct night and day, sword in hand, hardly daring to sleep as he awaited the assault of the man who would kill him and take his place, Frazer roams the world of ancient and modern religious and ceremonial practice in search of the underlying universals of human thought.

The Golden Bough quickly took its place in the fields of mythology, anthropology and comparative religion as a classic. Though clearly open to criticism from a modern perspective, it opened pathways of thought and interpretation that enabled later thinkers to explore perspectives that would not have been available otherwise. In many forms and guises, Frazer's ideas have flourished from his day to the present.

(P)2013 Robert Bethune

What members say

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  • Michael
  • Walnut Creek, CA, United States
  • 09-18-15

Repetitive and dated but interesting

This book is intentionally very repetitive, retelling very slightly different rituals and myths from one culture after another, for hours. The book follows the slow path of belief from simple magical thought, to rituals, to myths explaining the rituals, and finally to religions. The book demonstrates a wide spread and repeating pattern of ritual and myth regarding the killing and resurrection of a god.

The author uses a few outdated terms, like “savages”, to describe tribal people and beliefs, but the author was clearly trying to be unbiased and respectful to each of the cultures he covers.

This was well worth listening to understand the similarity of myths across a variety of cultures plus I saw how influential this book was on western literature. Clearly Durant was greatly influenced by this book as were many, many, others.

The narration is good, but slightly dry. This is really not a book for everyone. I enjoyed listening as rituals and myths mutate slowly from one form to another. The author’s passion for the subject was impressive and enjoyable.

27 of 35 people found this review helpful

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A plethora of knowledge about superstition

This is one of those books where I want to be left alone to listen for hours on end. Some mistaken conclusions are surely drawn, but the stories themselves are what does it for me. You can draw your own conclusions, if need be. I have to recommend this book due to the fact that it is just fascinating. I do not know if someone will ever be alive again that will have the drive to put another volume, building on this, into existence. I sure hope so. Superstition doesn't always die, but it always evolves. For me, it is best to try and understand their origins to help others be rid of their unnecessary superstition. This book helps to do just that.