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The Golden Bough (1890)
- There were several editions of The Golden Bough, which used varying chapter numerations and sub-titles. Those used here currently conform to the edition of 1922
- Dwellers by the sea cannot fail to be impressed by the sight of its ceaseless ebb and flow, and are apt, on the principles of that rude philosophy of sympathy and resemblance...to trace a subtle relation, a secret harmony, between its tides and the life of man...The belief that most deaths happen at ebb tide is said to be held along the east coast of England from Northumberland to Kent.
- Ch. 3
- The heaviest calamity in English history, the breach with America, might never have occurred if George the Third had not been an honest dullard.
- Ch. 3
- By religion, then, I understand a propitiation or conciliation of powers superior to man which are believed to direct and control the course of nature and of human life.
- Ch. 4
- If the test of truth lay in a show of hands or a counting of heads, the system of magic might appeal, with far more reason than the Catholic Church, to the proud motto, Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus [always, everywhere, and by all], as the sure and certain credential of its own infallibility.
- Ch. 4
- It is a common rule with primitive people not to waken a sleeper, because his soul is away and might not have time to get back; so if the man wakened without his soul, he would fall sick. If it is absolutely necessary to rouse a sleeper, it must be done very gradually, to allow the soul time to return.
- Ch. 18
- The awe and dread with which the untutored savage contemplates his mother-in-law are amongst the most familiar facts of anthropology.
- Ch. 18
- In primitive society the rules of ceremonial purity observed by divine kings, chiefs, and priests agree in many respects with the rules observed by homicides, mourners, women in childbed, girls at puberty, hunters and fishermen, and so on. To us these various classes of persons appear to differ totally in character and condition; some of them we should call holy, others we might pronounce unclean and polluted. But the savage makes no such moral distinction between them; the conceptions of holiness and pollution are not yet differentiated in his mind. To him the common feature of all these persons is that they are dangerous and in danger, and the danger in which they stand and to which they expose others is what we should call spiritual or ghostly, and therefore imaginary. The danger, however, is not less real because it is imaginary; imagination acts upon man as really does gravitation, and may kill him as certainly as a dose of prussic acid.
- Ch. 21 : Tabooed Things, § I : The Meaning of Taboo
- The world cannot live at the level of its great men.
- Ch. 37
Quotes about Frazer
- Frazer's account of the magical and religious views of mankind is unsatisfactory; it makes these views look like errors.
- Ludwig Wittgenstein, in Philosophical Occasions 1912-1951 (1993), edited by James Carl Klagge and Alfred Nordmann; Ch. 7 : Remarks on Frazer's Golden Bough, p. 119
- Frazer is much more savage than most of his savages, for they are not as far removed from the understanding of spiritual matter as a twentieth-century Englishman. His explanations of primitive practices are much cruder than the meaning of these practices themselves.
- Ludwig Wittgenstein, in Philosophical Occasions 1912-1951 (1993), edited by James Carl Klagge and Alfred Nordmann; Ch. 7 : Remarks on Frazer's Golden Bough, p. 131