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Book Title: A General Theory of Magic|
The author of the book: Marcel Mauss
Edition: Routledge & Kegan Paul Books
Date of issue: June 1st 1972
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 34.33 MB
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Loaded: 1544 times
Reader ratings: 7.9
ISBN 13: 9780710073389
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First written by Marcel Mauss and Henri Humbert in 1902, A General Theory of Magic gained a wide new readership when republished by Mauss in 1950. As a study of magic in 'primitive' societies and its survival today in our thoughts and social actions, it represents what Claude Lévi-Strauss called, in an introduction to that edition, the astonishing modernity of the mind of one of the century's greatest thinkers. The book offers a fascinating snapshot of magic throughout various cultures as well as deep sociological and religious insights still very much relevant today. At a period when art, magic and science appear to be crossing paths once again, A General Theory of Magic presents itself as a classic for our times.
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Read information about the authorMauss was born in Épinal, Vosges to a Jewish family, and studied philosophy at Bordeaux, where his uncle Émile Durkheim was teaching at the time and agregated in 1893. Instead of taking the usual route of teaching at a lycée, however, Mauss moved to Paris and took up the study of comparative religion and the Sanskrit language. His first publication in 1896 marked the beginning of a prolific career that would produce several landmarks in the sociological literature.
Like many members of Année Sociologique Mauss was attracted to socialism, particularly that espoused by Jean Jaurès. He was particularly active in the events of the Dreyfus affair and towards the end of the century he helped edit such left-wing papers as le Populaire, l'Humanité and le Mouvement Socialiste, the last in collaboration with Georges Sorel.
Mauss took up a chair in the 'history of religion and uncivilized peoples' at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in 1901. It was at this time that he began drawing more and more on ethnography, and his work began increasingly to look like what we would today call anthropology.
The years of World War I were absolutely devastating for Mauss. Many of his friends and colleagues died in the war, and Durkheim died shortly before its end. The postwar years were also difficult politically for Mauss. Durkheim had made changes to school curricula across France, and after his death a backlash against his students began. Like many other followers of Durkheim, Mauss took refuge in administration, securing Durkheim's legacy by founding institutions such as l'Institut Français de Sociologie (1924) and l'Institut d'Ethnologie in 1926. In 1931 he took up the chair of Sociology at the Collège de France. He actively fought against anti-semitism and racial politics both before and after World War II. He died in 1950.
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