Thursday, May 28, 2009

The New Golden Bough (1).

Sir James George Frazer. A New Abridgment. Ed. Dr. Theodore H. Gaster. New York: New American Library. 1890 (1959).

Why read it? Study of primitive rites and cultures, vestiges of which underlie our own modern culture. A study of primitive superstitions.

Sample quotes and ideas:

“In postulating ‘homeopathy’—that is, the principle that ‘like produces like’—as one of the primary bases of magic, Frazer cites in proof the numerous rites in which something desired is simulated in advanced, e.g., rainfall by pouring water or sunlight by kindling fire.” Gaster, Editor’s Foreword. xvii. ……….“Indeed, what Freud did for the individual, Frazer did for civilization as a whole…. As Freud deepened men’s insight into the behavior of individual by uncovering the ruder world of the subconscious, from which so much of behavior springs, so Frazer enlarged man’s understanding of the behavior of societies by laying bare the primitive concepts and modes of thought which underlie and inform so many of their institutions and which persist, as a subliminal element of their culture, in their traditional folk customs. Gaster, Editor’s Foreword. p. xix.

To be continued.

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