Elementary Forms Of The Religious Life: Newly Translated By Karen E. Fields
"Emile Durkheim (1858-1917), founder of the French school of sociology, produced an astonishing array of books and articles. He wrote both empirical studies and abstract treatises, most famously in his books on suicide and on the division of labor. But his last and greatest book, on a topic of utmost importance, is far less well known in the English-speaking world. Les formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse, published in 1912, received a hasty translation in 1915 that has remained, until now, the only English version available. In this now-classic work, Durkheim analyzes religion into its most fundamental beliefs and rites, including: sacredness, the soul, spirits, and gods; asceticism, sacrifice, communion, and mourning. Through an examination of the world these elements constitute, he is able to argue that religion originates in social life and in the most fundamental capacities of human intellect. His analysis is a model of rich comparison, analytic clarity, and open-minded inquiry. The 1915 translation, by Joseph Ward Swain, was first published in the United States by The Free Press in 1954. At long last, sociologist and religious scholar Karen Fields offers a much-needed new translation, with an illuminating introduction, that will restore Durkheim's work to its original brilliance and gain the respect accorded the very best translations of other key works by this author. At the end of our century, as so many people ask fundamental questions about the sacred, and as social science itself faces a methodological crisis of confidence, there can be no better source of answers, as well as models of analysis, than Durkheim's text."--Jacket.
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