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The Literature of Ancient Egypt: An Anthology of Stories, Instructions, Stelae, Autobiographies, and Poetry

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The latest edition of this highly praised anthology of ancient Egyptian literature offers fresh translations of all the texts as well as some twenty-five new entries, including writings from the late literature of the Demotic period at the end of classical Egyptian history. The book also includes an extensive bibliography. Praise for the earlier editions: “An elegant, easily The latest edition of this highly praised anthology of ancient Egyptian literature offers fresh translations of all the texts as well as some twenty-five new entries, including writings from the late literature of the Demotic period at the end of classical Egyptian history. The book also includes an extensive bibliography. Praise for the earlier editions: “An elegant, easily readable, and most serviceable volume.”—K. A. Kitchen, Journal of Near Eastern Studies “A reliable rendering of the Egyptian text that can be useful to students of Egyptology and provide the layman with delightful reading material.”—Mordechai Gilula, Cultura


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The latest edition of this highly praised anthology of ancient Egyptian literature offers fresh translations of all the texts as well as some twenty-five new entries, including writings from the late literature of the Demotic period at the end of classical Egyptian history. The book also includes an extensive bibliography. Praise for the earlier editions: “An elegant, easily The latest edition of this highly praised anthology of ancient Egyptian literature offers fresh translations of all the texts as well as some twenty-five new entries, including writings from the late literature of the Demotic period at the end of classical Egyptian history. The book also includes an extensive bibliography. Praise for the earlier editions: “An elegant, easily readable, and most serviceable volume.”—K. A. Kitchen, Journal of Near Eastern Studies “A reliable rendering of the Egyptian text that can be useful to students of Egyptology and provide the layman with delightful reading material.”—Mordechai Gilula, Cultura

30 review for The Literature of Ancient Egypt: An Anthology of Stories, Instructions, Stelae, Autobiographies, and Poetry

  1. 4 out of 5

    Connor

    This anthology is a fascinating glimpse into a long dead civilisation that saves Ancient Egypt from the ignorant view that it was a culture solely obsessed with the dead, but it rather shows how this culture was very much a culture of life. The collection contains such tales as the Tale of Sinuhe(Middle Kingdom) and the tale of the two brothers(post-New kingdom collapse, early 11th century). My favourite section was the beginning section about the Old Kingdom, since this era in Egypt's history i This anthology is a fascinating glimpse into a long dead civilisation that saves Ancient Egypt from the ignorant view that it was a culture solely obsessed with the dead, but it rather shows how this culture was very much a culture of life. The collection contains such tales as the Tale of Sinuhe(Middle Kingdom) and the tale of the two brothers(post-New kingdom collapse, early 11th century). My favourite section was the beginning section about the Old Kingdom, since this era in Egypt's history is often seen through the glimpse of the massive constructions that the kingdom achieved and the only literary source that is commonly remembered from that era is the pyramid texts. The tales written in the Old kingdom in this anthology are mainly based around Khufu and his immediate successors and are very religious in nature as can be expected. But the awesome part is that some of these stories predate the earliest tablets from the Epic of Gilgamesh by about 200 years! Overall, the anthology is a very good insight for anyone keenly interested in Egypt. The penguin writings from ancient Egypt is also very good, but is very centred on the New Kingdom; this anthology is more focused on its predecessors(mainly the Middle Kingdom, though I think that wasn't by design but just be a scarcity of sources in the old kingdom).

  2. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    It's really a tragedy -- you would think that three millennia of Egyptian culture would produce hundreds of volumes of great poetry, epics, histories, etc. This is certainly the case for Chinese culture, e.g.; there are dozens of world-class writers in every genre going back to roughly 1000 B.C. But for Egyptian writing across all genres, this Yale anthology essentially covers it . . . just a few hundred pages! For whatever reason this was not a culture that valued the written word. Anyway, with It's really a tragedy -- you would think that three millennia of Egyptian culture would produce hundreds of volumes of great poetry, epics, histories, etc. This is certainly the case for Chinese culture, e.g.; there are dozens of world-class writers in every genre going back to roughly 1000 B.C. But for Egyptian writing across all genres, this Yale anthology essentially covers it . . . just a few hundred pages! For whatever reason this was not a culture that valued the written word. Anyway, with that said, it's still a tantalizing glimpse into a fascinating culture. The reading material is somewhat dry -- fragmentary bits of Psalm-esque didactic poems, brief accounts of whichever pharaoh won whichever battle against whoever, some funerary/mortuary texts, religious invocations -- but I think worth reading.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Barnaby Thieme

    This is an adequate survey of translations of material from ancient Egypt and a useful jumping-off point for interested readers. There is not much in the corpus of Egyptian writing remotely approaching the quality of the Greeks or Semitic tribes, or the Babylonians. The translations are mostly readable though a little awkward. The translators intentionally attempt to preserve something of the grammatical structure of the Egyptian, which strikes me as odd. One does not translate into bad English, This is an adequate survey of translations of material from ancient Egypt and a useful jumping-off point for interested readers. There is not much in the corpus of Egyptian writing remotely approaching the quality of the Greeks or Semitic tribes, or the Babylonians. The translations are mostly readable though a little awkward. The translators intentionally attempt to preserve something of the grammatical structure of the Egyptian, which strikes me as odd. One does not translate into bad English, and whatever information is conveyed in mimicking Egyptian sentence structures will probably be of interest only to specialists who are unlikely to study this volume. I'm wavering between three and four stars in part because some genres gets short shrift (hymns, coffin texts, and funeral texts) and some translations are a bit off (like the willfully eclectic rendering of "Dialog between a Man Weary of Life and his Soul"). I'd give it three and a half stars if I could. More explanatory notes would also be useful.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    It all started because of Daniel Radcliffe and his QI episode, where he talked about the Westcar Papyrus. It didn’t take long to read said papyrus, which then led me to the Story of Sinuhe, and then to save myself from randomly clicking Wikipedia links, I looked around for an anthology and found this book, which I think is a pretty decent anthology of Ancient Egyptian literature. I know nothing about Egyptology (I’ve seen the Brendan Fraser movies so I know that much) so any anthology really wou It all started because of Daniel Radcliffe and his QI episode, where he talked about the Westcar Papyrus. It didn’t take long to read said papyrus, which then led me to the Story of Sinuhe, and then to save myself from randomly clicking Wikipedia links, I looked around for an anthology and found this book, which I think is a pretty decent anthology of Ancient Egyptian literature. I know nothing about Egyptology (I’ve seen the Brendan Fraser movies so I know that much) so any anthology really would have served as a good introduction. So thank you, Daniel Radcliffe.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lady Makaveli

    I am obsessed with Kemetic literature; with Ancient African literature in itself but when you get these glimpses of the stories that were told the ancient past truly seems to wash over me and take me back to the place these stories were spoken. Sadly, some parts are no longer with us; some lost or have fallen apart due to aging and weather, but the majority of this astonishing compilation of ancient african literature is in tact and if you love ancient Africa; if you love Kemet ; the spiritualit I am obsessed with Kemetic literature; with Ancient African literature in itself but when you get these glimpses of the stories that were told the ancient past truly seems to wash over me and take me back to the place these stories were spoken. Sadly, some parts are no longer with us; some lost or have fallen apart due to aging and weather, but the majority of this astonishing compilation of ancient african literature is in tact and if you love ancient Africa; if you love Kemet ; the spirituality and / or the histories.... you will not be able to put it down... I know I'll be re-reading this, many times, even though I have many more to complete... Brilliant and highly recommended...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Nunn

    The second book of Egyptian writings I have read. This had some of the same pieces but also some new ones. My favourites were the love poems, they really humanised the ancient Egyptians and show how much like us they really were. I also enjoyed the report of Wenamon for much the same reasons, the very human dramas of the emissary as he attempted to fulfil her mission. Honourable mention goes to the Contendings of Horus and Seth for being absolutely bizarre.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ash

    Loved the narratives and am fascinated by the tales within this anthology. The monumental inscriptions and didactic instructions were quite tough to digest though. Overall, an amazing resource for the general reader interested in exploring one of the oldest literary traditions in the world.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lulu

    2040-1782 BCE - The Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mateusz

    An excellent anthology that may shed more light on Egyptian Coffin Texts (Ritual Spells), Egyptian Religious Studies. Faulkner never fails when it comes to in-depth understanding of Egyptian Civilization. One may commiserate with the "Man who was tired of living", penetrate the woes of one the twelve great sages of Egypt, read superb love poetry to Hathor, read how Horus won the seat at the Council of the Gods (Ennead), and much more! Between myth and magic, one takes one's lifeblood and makes t An excellent anthology that may shed more light on Egyptian Coffin Texts (Ritual Spells), Egyptian Religious Studies. Faulkner never fails when it comes to in-depth understanding of Egyptian Civilization. One may commiserate with the "Man who was tired of living", penetrate the woes of one the twelve great sages of Egypt, read superb love poetry to Hathor, read how Horus won the seat at the Council of the Gods (Ennead), and much more! Between myth and magic, one takes one's lifeblood and makes the myth alive and like the eternal Atum-Lotos and Aten - shine again with great splendor! Astarte, the wife of Seth, and the insatiable sea of wonder awaits!

  10. 4 out of 5

    The Scrivener's Quill

    I read the tale of the eloquent Peasant. It is a mixture of the parable of the widow in the New Testament who won't leave the judge alone and finally gets her remedy, job and his multiplication of rewards after he has suffered, and potentially Cinderella. I like the concepts relating to the administration of justice, the role of the judiciary, and the warnings against the lack of an effective legal system.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    A pretty good balance, for an anthology of ancient stories. It's a difficult genre to manage, and some of the translations are rather antiquated themselves. But if you're looking for some good stories, it's a good place to look. Lichtheim can be better, but really, if you don't want to read scholarly articles about the texts, then look at both and the truth is probably between them.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cera

    A pleasant diversity of material from Ancient Egypt, translated into very readable modern English. I'm skimming some of the it, because the book is ginormous, but I'm finding a lot of the selections fascinating.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Awesome for referencing obscure Ancient Egyptian lit. It gives a more complete look at the culture of the time than other things I have referenced.

  14. 5 out of 5

    R. G. Nairam

    I didn't read all of this but I really enjoyed what I did.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Carlos

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lola

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mila Guera

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mohamed Lotfy

  19. 4 out of 5

    Simone

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jinny

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kenneth Roman

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

  23. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Smith

  24. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Marie

  25. 5 out of 5

    Janeya

  26. 4 out of 5

    James F

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mohamed Awed

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

  29. 5 out of 5

    Shameel

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

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