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Introduction & Overview of The Golden Bough

This Study Guide consists of approximately 49 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Golden Bough.
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The Golden Bough Summary & Study Guide Description

The Golden Bough Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Further Reading on The Golden Bough by James Frazer.

Ever since its first edition in 1890, The Golden Bough has been considered a major influence in the development of western thought. In this book, Sir James G. Frazer, a Cambridge researcher trained in classical literature, outlines ancient myths and folk legends, proposing that all civilizations go through three stages of development: belief in magic leads to organized religion, which eventually leads to faith in the powers of science. Frazer's literary style raised interest in the ideas of other world cultures at a time when western societies considered the peoples of Africa and Asia to be the products of "primitive" thought. In addition, his attempts to identify the basic story motifs to which all human beings respond was carried forth in the twentieth century by psychologists such as Carl Jung, who developed the idea of the collective unconscious, and by such literary masters as James Joyce and T. S. Eliot.

Frazer went on to expand the original book, first to a two-volume set and then to a total of thirteen volumes, before editing it down to one concise volume, which is the one that is most commonly read today. Over time, the book's reputation has changed. While it was once considered to be an important study in comparative anthropology, many social scientists later found fault with the methods that Frazer used in collecting materials: he never spoke directly to people of the cultures about which he wrote, but instead he relied on other researchers' findings and on questionnaires that he gave to people who traveled to other lands. Frazer's conclusions are generally considered unreliable because he did not follow sound scientific procedures, but The Golden Bough is still revered as a wellwritten introduction to the subject of comparative religion.

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This section contains 289 words
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Nonfiction Classics for Students
The Golden Bough from Nonfiction Classics for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.