James George Frazer

Frazer, Sir James George

Sir James George Frazer, 1854–1941, Scottish classicist and anthropologist, b. Glasgow, educated at the universities of Glasgow and Cambridge. He is known especially for his masterpiece, The Golden Bough, published originally in two volumes (1890); in later editions it was enlarged to 13 volumes. A monumental study in comparative folklore, magic, and religion, it showed parallels between the rites and beliefs of early cultures and those of Christianity. The work had a great impact on the early 20th cent., its influence extending to psychology and literature. An abridged one-volume edition was published by the author in 1923. A new one-volume version, cut and annotated by T. H. Gaster, appeared in 1959 as The New Golden Bough. Frazer's other writings include Totemism and Exogamy (1910) and its supplement, Totemica (1937); The Belief in Immortality and the Worship of the Dead (3 vol., 1913–24); Folklore in the Old Testament (1919, abr. ed. 1923); and Anthologia Anthropologica, ed. by R. A. Downie (4 vol., 1938–39).

See studies by R. A. Downie (1940), B. Malinowski (in A Scientific Theory of Culture, 1944, repr. 1960), J. B. Vickery (1973), and R. Ackerman (1987).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

James George Frazer: Selected full-text books and articles

The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion By James George Frazer; Robert Fraser Oxford University Press, 1994
Magic, Science and Religion: And Other Essays By Bronislaw Malinowski Doubleday Anchor Books, 1954
They Studied Man By Abram Kardiner; Edward Preble World Publishing, 1961
Librarian’s tip: "James Frazer: Labor Disguised in Ease" begins on p. 78
The Study of Culture By L. L. Langness Chandler & Sharp, 1987 (Revised edition)
Librarian’s tip: "James George Frazer, J. J. Bachofen, Henry Maine, and Others" begins on p. 27
Sex, Culture, and Myth By Bronislaw Malinowski Harcourt, Brace & World, 1962
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 12 "On Sir James Frazer"
Mastery and Escape: T.S. Eliot and the Dialectic of Modernism By Jewel Spears Brooker University of Massachusetts Press, 1994
Librarian’s tip: "The Case of the Missing Abstraction: Eliot, Frazer, and Modernism" begins on p. 110
Ritual: Perspectives and Dimensions By Catherine Bell Oxford University Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of James George Frazer begins on p. 5
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