Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 20, 1909.djvu/275

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The Threshold of Religion. By R. R. Marett. Methuen, 1909. Cr. 8vo, pp. 194.

This volume consists of five essays, — Pre-Animistic Religioti, From Spell to Prayer, Is Taboo a Negative Magic ?, The Conception of Mana, and A Sociological Vieiv of Comparative Religion — which have previously appeared at various times and places in the last nine years. By re-publishing them in collective form Mr. Marett has done a service both to those who have access to them in their original places of deposit, and to that larger number who have not. He has also done a service to the study of early religion by re-publishing these essays, and still more by the spirit in which he has written them and given them to the world. He has written them in a spirit the very reverse of dogmatic. His purpose has been to make his readers think for themselves on the fundamental questions which arise at " the threshold of religion," and he does this by suggesting positive and constructive views, which will either be accepted, or will only be set aside by other constructive work which shows itself better fitted to hold the field. In either case he will have deserved well of the science of comparative religion, and will be remembered long in connection with it.

The vitality of Mr. Marett's work is illustrated by the fact that the earliest of these essays, Pre-Anifnistic Religion, which ap- peared in Folk-Lore, June 1900, pp. 162-182, is one which, nine years after its original appearance, is still acting as a ferment, and seems likely to engage an increasing amount of attention from students of early religion. It has been criticised by Wilhelm