Historical Context

(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

Frazer published the first edition of The Golden Bough in 1890, just eight years after the death of Charles Darwin. Darwin, a British...

(The entire section is 623 words.)

Literary Style

(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

An archetype is a model or type in literature that is considered to be universal, occurring in all cultures at all...

(The entire section is 368 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

Hyman, Stanley Edgar, ‘‘What Do You Dance?,’’ in The Tangled Bank: Darwin, Marx, Frazer, and Freud as...

(The entire section is 210 words.)


(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Ackerman, Robert. The Myth and Ritual School: J. G. Frazer and the Cambridge Ritualists. New York: Garland, 1991. Reprint. New York: Routledge, 2002. Examines the ideas expressed in The Golden Bough and in the works of other Cambridge University-based scholars whose ideas linked myth theory, the classics, and anthropology to create a new school of religious thought.

Douglas, Mary. “Judgements on James Frazer.” Daedalus 107, no. 4 (Fall, 1978): 151-164. A masterful assessment of Frazer’s critics and work by a leading anthropologist. Addresses the intellectual and cultural problems involved in criticizing works produced by earlier generations.

Downie, R. Angus. Frazer and “The Golden Bough.” London: Victor Gollancz, 1970. A clearly written introduction by Frazer’s biographer and amanuensis. Outlines the comparative approach, narrative, and critical impact of The Golden Bough and examines the work in the context of Frazer’s other scholarly and literary efforts.

Fraser, Robert. The Making of “The Golden Bough”: The Origins and Growth of an Argument. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990. Traces the genesis and evolution of Frazer’s ideas from the original 1890 two-volume edition of The Golden Bough through the massive 1911-1915 third edition and to the 1936 addendum.

Manganaro, Marc. Myth, Rhetoric, and the Voice of Authority: A Critique of Frazer, Eliot, Frye, and Campbell. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1992. Applies the language of postmodern literary scrutiny and rhetorical analysis to The Golden Bough. Argues that Frazer moved strategically from being an anthropological fact-finder to claiming authority as a literary author during the twenty-five years that he revised and expanded The Golden Bough.

Stocking, George W., Jr. “James Frazer and The Golden Bough: From Magic to Religion to Science.” In After Tylor: British Social Anthropology, 1888-1951. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1995. Chapter 4 of Stocking’s history of British anthropology focuses on “the Frazerian moment” and features a lengthy discussion of The Golden Bough.

Vickery, John B. The Literary Impact of “The Golden Bough.” Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1973. Outlines the ideas and intellectual importance of The Golden Bough and discusses in depth the literary uses of The Golden Bough by William Butler Yeats, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, and James Joyce.

Compare and Contrast

(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

1890: People in Europe and the United States know little about non-Western culture; they refer to Africa as ‘‘The Dark...

(The entire section is 112 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

Look for a behavior that is apparent in everyday life but that people seem to do for no other reason than tradition. Try to discover what...

(The entire section is 151 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

Joseph Campbell was arguably the most popular writer on myth in the late twentieth century. His most famous work is The Power of Myth,...

(The entire section is 187 words.)