Sir James George Frazer

The Golden Bough

The Roots of Religion and Folklore

Originally published in 1890 in two volumes as
The Golden Bough: A Study in Comparative Religion

Copyright © 1981 by Crown Publishers, Inc.

Published by Gramercy Books,
distributed by Outlet Book Company, Inc.
a Random House Company,
40 Englehard Avenue
Avenel, New jersey 07001

Random House
New York - Toronto - London - Sydney - Auckland

Printed and bound in the United States of America

The blurb on the book jacket:

Sir James George Frazer (1854-1941) was a Scottish anthropologist with a particular interest in the study of myth and religion. His early research in the development of religion, as humanity progressed from primitive to civilized social structures, ripened into a set of theories about the historical evolution of ancient cults, rites, rituals, and religious beliefs.

The Golden Bough, is Frazer's greatest and best known work, a repository of his mature theories. In it, Frazer takes as his starting point an investigation into the succession rituals of the priest kings of Diana's Grove, a sacred wood in ancient Italy; the rite involved the ancient custom of allowing a runaway slave to fight the king -- and perhaps take his title if he could first pull down a bough from a special golden tree. Frazer saw a link between this story and Virgil's epic poem the Aeneid, wherein possession of a golden bough allows the hero Aeneas to enter the Underworld. Much of Frazer's book derives from this exploration of ancient tree worship, of the attempt of early peoples to control nature, and of the ritual killing of divine kings.

In The Golden Bough, Frazer explores a multitude of myths and folktales that range across cultures and centuries, and he points to the striking similarities among them. His topics include magic and witchcraft, taboos and sexual rites, the nature of the soul and of religion, scapegoats and human sacrifice, and great literature and legends.

This edition of The Golden Bough -- which is a reprint of the text of the two-volume first edition of 1890, unabridged and with Frazer's original notes -- features numerous illustrations, many from sources contemporary with the author.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Frazer, James George, Sir, 1854-1941
The golden bough.
Reprint. Originally published: London: Macmillan, 1890.
Includes index.
1. Mythology.      2. Religion, Primitive.
3. Magic.      4. Superstition.      I. Title.
BL310.F7     1981     291     81-925
ISBN 0-517-33633-2 (jacketed)     AACR2
ISBN 0-517-64134-8 (library edition)

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