Download Mythic Thinking in Twentieth-Century Britain: Meaning for by M. Sterenberg PDF

By M. Sterenberg

A number of thinkers used the idea that of delusion to articulate their anxieties approximately modernity. via telling the tale of mythic considering in Britain from its origins in Victorian social anthropology to its postwar cultural mainstreaming, this e-book finds a longing for transcendence in an age lengthy assumed to be disenchanted.

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He saw myth as a kind of “savage philosophy” that had its roots in the unique character of primitive mentality. Myth was in fact an attempt by primitive people to explain their experience as rationally as they were able. Incapable of abstract thought, they instead “animated” nature by projecting onto it the primitive doctrine of souls. Tylor coined the term “animism” to describe this attribution of souls or spirits to nonhuman objects as a way of explaining natural phenomena. ”8 For Tylor, then, mythology was something like failed science, a primitive attempt to explain the natural world in rational terms.

The First World War, its aftermath, and tensions of the interwar period served as an ideal context for reception of the mythic material Golden Boughs, Fairy Books, and Holy Grails 33 in The Golden Bough. This was a period in which many of Britain’s intellectuals tried to come to grips with forces of irrationalism and disorder that seemed to threaten the very continuation of civilization in Europe. To many, the myths presented in Frazer’s work offered both a key to understanding this irrationalism and an antidote to it.

When he was 16 Frazer entered Glasgow University, where he developed an abiding allegiance to the power of disciplined rationality and decided to pursue classics as a career. He won a scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he matriculated in 1874. Trinity College would be Frazer’s home for the rest of his life. When his thesis on Plato earned him a fellowship in 1879, Frazer seemed poised for an ordinary career as a classics don, but a fortuitous encounter with anthropology would open up an intellectual world to him beyond the editing of classical texts.

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