Book of the month: The Golden Bough (vol. I-XII) by Sir James Frazer
The Scottish anthropologist and folklorist Sir James Frazer (1854-1951) published the first version of The Golden Bough in 1890, but he continued working on the book for many years. Starting with two volumes it grew to three in the second edition (1900) and no less than twelve in the third edition (1915). The book made a great stir in its day. It was read widely and influenced a great deal of artists, writers and scientists.
However, already during Frazer’s time his work was criticized: his great Darwinian theory about the origins of religion in magic and transition to science was rejected and his sweeping comparisons and “writing-desk-anthropology” method became painfully out of date. Still his work stands as one of the real classics in the study of religions; it is thought provoking, informative and very well written. But watch out as a reader: according to the role playing game Call of Cthulhu a reader loses two sanity points…