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Sir James George Frazer

Frazer, Sir James George, 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 Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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