In 1890, James George Frazer began publishing The Golden Bough, his monumental study of myth, ritual, and religion, which would, by 1936, run to 13 volumes and establish him as a pioneer in the study of religion as an aspect of culture. This abridged edition, assembled in 1922, condenses this fundamental work to one readable volume that is still a source for modern anthropology, thanks to its expansive discussions ancient cultish practices and their connections to the rites of modern Christianity. In eloquent prose, Frazer discusses legends of the woods, sympathetic magic, magicians as kings, the worship of trees, the concept of the sacred marriage, the links between priestly and royal power, ritual royal sacrifices, the concept of "eating the god," the myths of Osiris, Adonis, Isis, and other ancient deities, and much more. Lovers of mythology will be enraptured by this book, which draws all of human belief under one unifying umbrella, celebrating myth and ritual as part of the basis of all human culture. Scottish anthropologist SIR JAMES GEORGE FRAZER (1854-1941) also wrote the classic The Golden Bough (1890), *Man, God, and Immortality* (1927), and Creation and Evolution in Primitive Cosmogonies (1935).
This "abridged" edition is huge -- the equivalent of 10 books the size of Tom Sawyer. The first edition, published 1890, was 2 volumes. The second, published in 1900, was 3 volumes. The third edition, published 1906-1915, was 12 volumes. This edition was published in 1922. According to Wikipedia: "The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion is a wide-ranging, comparative study of mythology and religion, written by Scottish anthropologist James George Frazer (1854–1941). It first was published in two volumes in 1890; the third edition, published 1906–15, comprised twelve volumes. It was aimed at a broad literate audience raised on tales as told in such publications as Thomas Bulfinch's The Age of Fable, or Stories of Gods and Heroes (1855). It offered a modernist approach to discussing religion, treating it dispassionately as a cultural phenomenon rather than from a theological perspective. The impact of The Golden Bough on contemporary European literature was substantial."
The book dissects the intriguing Arab-Islamic myth built around Muhammad's unearthing of a "golden bough" from the grave of the last survivor of an ancient Arab people, the Thamud, who, according to the myth, were destroyed by a divine scourge for their iniquity. In the myth the episode of the slaying of the she-camel of the prophet Salih, which precipitates the downfall of the Thamud, is symbolically linked with Muhammad, the discoverer of the golden bough.