The Science of Religion

Naturally, Lang’s work on the science of religion overlaps much with his writing on anthropology, mythology, and psychical research. For a complete view of Lang’s writings on religion, researchers should examine these and other of Lang’s interests (and not neglect his periodical writings). I have categorized this page as Lang’s writings on “the science of religion” rather than as “writings on religion” for three reasons:

(1) I am following Marjorie Wheeler Barclay, who uses the term in her extremely useful study of Lang’s work in the chapter devoted to him in The Science of Religion in Britain, 1860–1915

(2) Lang’s writings on the origins of religion must be seen as distinct from his writings on, say, the Scottish Reformation or on Joan of Arc.

(3) Although Lang sometimes states his views on the above, occasionally in his publications, and more frequently in his letters discussing his positions against sectarian Scottish religionists from Knox down to the Free Kirk , Lang still shies away from publicly discussing his personal religious opinions. For some of the closest windows into his mind, see, for example, one of Lang’s earlier reviews (of George MacDonald’s Thomas Wingfold, Curate) in The Fortnightly Review (“Three New Novels,” January 1877, pp. 88–96), his review of Robert Elsemere in “Theological Romances” (The Contemporary Review, June 1888, pp. 814–24) or his response to Edward Clodd after receiving Clodd’s life of Christ (qtd. in Memories, p. 214). (I discuss this subject in greater detail in my forthcoming essay “Genre Problems: Andrew Lang and J.R.R. Tolkien on (Fairy) Stories and (Literary) Belief.”)

Because there is substantial overlap between Lang’s work on the origins of religion and on mythology, I do include some of his more important works on mythology below. The inclusion of titles below, however, is somewhat arbitrary: there are reasons to argue for or against the inclusion of others. Please feel free to use the contact form if you would like to argue for the inclusion or exclusion of a particular title.

  • Custom and Myth (Longmans, Green, 1884) [The Internet Archive Scan is of the 1893 new edition.
  • Myth, Ritual and Religion (2 vols., Longmans, Green, 1887) ( 1, 1887) (The vol. 2 scan is the 1913 reprint. Second edition. New Edition. 1899. [Rewritten and enlarged.] 1, The volume 2 scan is from 1901. [See 1887 for the first edition.]
  • Modern Mythology; A Reply to Max Müller (Longmans, Green, and Co., 1897)
  • The Making of Religion (Longmans, Green, 1898) (Second edition, 1900, with a new preface, Third edition, with a new preface, 1909). Lang writes in his dedication to Principal Donaldson, of St Andrews that the chapters in The Making of Religion “may be taken as representing the Gifford Lectures delivered by me, though in fact they contain very little that was spoken from Lord Gifford’s chair.” I also believe it is worthwhile to read the newspaper reports of Andrew Lang’s Gifford Lectures, many of which can be accessed with a subscription from British Newspaper Archive.
  • Magic and Religion (Longmans, Green, 1901). Lang is arguing particularly against theories by E. B. Tylor and J. G. Frazer.
  • The Secret of the Totem (Longmans, Green, 1905)
  • The Origins of Religion (London: Watts, 1908) [Essays, mainly reprinted. The last essay, “Theories of the Origin of Religion,” was new.]

Related:

  • The Voices of Jeanne D’Arc (1895) [Place of publication not identified]: [Publisher not identified], [1895]. See in WorldCat.
  • A Book of Dreams and Ghosts (Longmans, Green, and Co., 1897)
  • The Miracles of Madame Saint Katherine of Fierbois (Chicago: Way and Williams; London: David Nutt,1897) translator. In the preface, Lang writes that he has omitted “one or two very dull narratives” and has “added an essay on Fierbois and the Maid’s connection with the shrine”
  • Social Origins (Longman’s, Green, 1903) Lang’s text is published in the same volume as Primal Law by James Jasper Atkinson.
  • Method in the Study of Totemism. Glasgow: Printed at the University Press by Robert MacLehose & Co., Ltd., 1911. See WorldCat. See also in WorldCat Method in the Study of Totemism. By Andrew Lang and Alexander Goldenweiser. This is a reprint from two articles in the journal The American Anthropologist. (Lancaster, Pa.: New Era Print. Co., 1912.)
  • Presidential Addresses to the Society for Psychical Research, 1882–1911. [With addresses by Henry Sidgwick; Balfour Stewart; Arthur James Balfour; William James; William Crookes; F W H Myers; Oliver Lodge, Sir; William Barrett, Sir; Charles Richet; Gerald William Balfour Balfour, Earl of; Eleanor Mildred Sidgwick; H Arthur Smith; Andrew Lang.] (Glasgow: Robert Maclehose, 1911. See WorldCat.
  • “Religio Loci.” Contribution to Votiva Tabella. Andrews. See WorldCat.
This page is still in progress and was last updated 18 August 2018.
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See the list of Andrew Lang’s periodical publications.