Monday, January 25, 2010

Book Review: Reading Ancient Egyptian Poetry

Bryn Mawr Classical Reviw (review by L. R. Siddall)

R. B. Parkinson, Reading Ancient Egyptian Poetry: Among other Histories. Chichester/Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.


"This book has been written for fun, and it is in a sense a love letter to these three poems and the places that produced them," so R. B. Parkinson describes Reading Ancient Egyptian Poetry. This "love letter" investigates how three of Egypt's best known ancient poems, the Tale of Sinuhe, the Tale of the Eloquent Peasant and the Dialogue of a Man and his Soul, were written, read, performed and received from the Middle Kingdom period to the modern age. The book is organized in three parts and each focuses on the poems' surviving manuscripts, the process of composition, reception and meaning in the respective historical periods with an emphasis on the poems' social, archaeological and historical contexts. With 69 excellent black and white photographs and illustrations, chronological tables and translations of the 12th Dynasty papyri, this book is a significant contribution to the study of ancient Egyptian literature.

Reading Ancient Egyptian Poetry is Parkinson's third monograph on ancient Egyptian literature. His previous studies have established him as one of the leading scholars in the field. For Parkinson, this book completes the triad on Egyptian literature, but it is the most divergent.

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