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On Prayer: Text and Commentary

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A volume in the Publications of the Durkheim Press series

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On Prayer

Text and Commentary

Marcel Mauss
Edited and with an introduction by W. S. F. Pickering†
Postscript by Howard Morphy
Published in Association with Durkheim Press

176 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-57181-633-7 $27.95/£22.95 Pb Published (September 2003)

Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“This study should have been his doctoral dissertation that he never finished…Its English version clearly shows that we are dealing with an important text on a topic that is curiously little explored by anthropologists.” • Revue philosophique

“There is much of interest in this well-presented volume. Mauss’s careful discussion of differences among types of oral rites – incantations, spells, invocations – remains instructive.” • Social Anthropology

“Anthropologists, sociologists and theologians will be grateful for the first English translation of this important early text by Marcel Mauss…The notes edited by Robert Parkin and some 'Concluding Anthropological Reflections' by Howard Morphy make this a very valuable item for Mauss scholarship.” • Reviews in Religion and Theology

“Mauss's foray into the issue of prayer, though inchoate, is as unexpected as it is significant…Pickering has produced a highly scholarly and indispensable volume…Impeccably translated…this will be the standard reference for Mauss on the topic of prayer.” • New Blackfriars


Marcel Mauss (1872-1950) never completed his Doctoral thesis on prayer. Yet his scarcely mentioned introduction (Books I and II) of 176 pages and privately printed in 1909, can be seen as some of his most important work. His argument that much of prayer is a social act will be of great interest to anthropologists, sociologists and theologians.

Here, the first English translation to be published, is preceded by a general introduction by W.S.F.Pickering and finally a specific commentary on Mauss's use of ethnographic material.

W. S. F. Pickering†, British Centre for Durkheimian Studies, Oxford University

Subject: Anthropology (General) Cultural Studies (General) Anthropology of Religion Sociology


Presentation, Notes and Referencing

Introduction to an Unfinished Work
W.S.F. Pickering

Marcel Mauss: On Prayer
Translated by Susan Leslie

Book I
Chapter 1. General Introduction
Chapter 2.
Chapter 3. Initial Definition

Book II The Nature of Elementary Oral Rites
Chapter 1. The History of the Question and Delineation of the Subject
Chapter 2. Do Prayers Exist in Australia?
Chapter 3. The Formulae of the Intichiuma

Edited by Robert Parkin

Mauss’s Review of Segond’s book on Prayer
Translated by Susan Leslie

Some Concluding Anthropological Reflections
Howard Morphy


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