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J., E. (1922). The History of Human Marriage: By Edward Westermarck, LL.D., Professor of Sociology in the University of London. (Macmillan & Co., London. 1921. Fifth Edition. In 3 Volumes. Pp. 1753. Price four guineas.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 3:249-252.
(1922). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 3:249-252
The History of Human Marriage: By Edward Westermarck, LL.D., Professor of Sociology in the University of London. (Macmillan & Co., London. 1921. Fifth Edition. In 3 Volumes. Pp. 1753. Price four guineas.)
Review by: E. J.
Since the first edition of this work appeared, over thirty years ago, it has won an unchallenged place as the standard classic on the subject. Nevertheless, so much new work is constantly appearing that the author decided entirely to re-write the present edition and so little of the former ones remains that it can be regarded as a new book. It is a veritable encyclopaedia of information on all conceivable matters relating to marriage, and almost rivals Frazer's 'Golden Bough' as a bibliographical reference book. Like that work also, it defines its subject matter very widely and so comes to deal not only with marriage in the narrower sense, but with almost every aspect of heterosexuality, both in its positive and its negative aspects. To mention only a few of the headings: virginity, celibacy, religious prostitution, jus primae noctis, modesty, secondary sexual characteristics, etc.
While the information on the various aspects of the subject has enormously increased in the past thirty years, and quite new sections have been added to the book even in the present edition, the author's own views have changed but little in this time. The one perhaps most associated with his name, the denial that sexual promiscuity was ever a primitive state of mankind, has stood the test of time and is now widely accepted. Other views of his, however, such as those on the origin of exogamy, are still striving for recognition.
It is probable that most reviews of the work will contain nothing but the respectful admiration which is its full due and which we also freely accord.
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