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Ancient Egyptian Literature: Volume I: The Old and Middle Kingdoms Paperback – April 3, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0520248427 ISBN-10: 0520248422 Edition: 2nd Revised edition

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Product Details

  • Series: Ancient Egyptian Literature (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 2nd Revised edition edition (April 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520248422
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520248427
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #259,588 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Concise, lucid, and altogether interesting.... The notes on the individual texts are unfailingly illuminating." - Books Abroad (now World Literature Today)"

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Praise for the first editions:

“Concise, lucid, and altogether interesting ….The notes on the individual texts are unfailingly illuminating.”—Books Abroad (now World Literature Today)

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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She offers a short but elucidating introduction and offers helpful footnotes after every work presented.
Ryan Mease
Her translations, while very close to literal, somehow manage to carry the atmosphere of the original without sounding as bizarre as a literal translation would.
Mr. Protocol
Miriam Lichtheim's "Ancient Egyptian Literature, Vol. 1" is a very good translation of a wide range of texts from Old and Middle Kingdom Egypt.
Timothy Dougal

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By David Oldacre on September 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
Having read a number of books in recent months on Egpyt, Canaan, and Israel, I decided that I needed to go to the source to see for myself what the many partially quoted Egyptian texts actually say. Miriam Lichtheim's "Ancient Egyptian Literature - Volume I: The Old and Middle Kingdoms" was my starting point.
The customer reviews recommended it - and what other customers have to say about a book is usually an important factor as to whether I will buy it. In this case, I was cautious and only bought the first volume. I enjoyed it immensely.
Professor Lichtheim's aim was to provide an up-to-date translation of a representative selection of Egyptian Literature, and in preparing these she states that she has made full use of existing translations and studies. I found her introductory survey on the development of Egyptian literature and her detailed explanation and notes of each text to be most useful in helping me understand what I was reading.
This first volume includes translations of about 50 texts dating from the 5th dynasty of the Old Kingdom to the 14th Dynasty of the Middle kingdom - which covers the period c 2450BCE to c 1650BCE. The texts include tomb inscriptions, selected "Utterances" from the Pyramid texts, Didactic Instructions, Songs and Hymns, as well as three amusing and interesting prose tales - The Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor, ThreeTales of Wonder, and The Story of Sinuhe.
The Didactic literature is also very interesting, generally being instructions from kings to sons on how to properly rule the kingdom after his death. But they also include such texts as "The Dispute between a Man and his Ba", "The Eloquent Peasant", "The Satire of the Trades", and the much (partially) quoted and often misquoted "Admonitions of Ipuwer".
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Protocol on May 5, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I was learning to read Middle Egyptian, it was Lichtheim who kept me on track. She has a wonderful gift for translation. Her translations, while very close to literal, somehow manage to carry the atmosphere of the original without sounding as bizarre as a literal translation would.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Robert on February 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent corpus of translations from an authoritative hand, including from simple "funeral" and "biographical" inscriptions from the Old Kingdom upto nice and good renderings of all the major "tales" and "stories" from the MIddle Kingdom: The Tale of Sinuhe, The Dialogue between a Man and His Soul, the Tale of Kheops and the magicians, and many other paramount titles of the ancient Egyptian literature dated to the aforesaid periods. Each piece contains an introductory notes with the "history" of the documents and end-notes full of interesting comments as for the translation's details and plenty of bilbiography. Most recommended, both for the beginners and the trained readers.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Dougal on November 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
Miriam Lichtheim's "Ancient Egyptian Literature, Vol. 1" is a very good translation of a wide range of texts from Old and Middle Kingdom Egypt. It contains a representative sampling of Pyramid and Coffin texts, monumental inscriptions, didactic and wisdom literature,including the famous "Dispute Between a Man and His Ba", a few hymns, and prose selections, including "The Story of Sinuhe", "Three Wonder Tales", and "The Shipwrecked Sailor". For me the clincher in deciding to purchase this particular volume over its competitors was Ms. Lichtheim's decision to leave the words "ka", "ba", and selected other terms untranslated rather than giving anachronistic, supposed modern equivalents, to these complex words, as other recent translators have done. There are, additionally, excellent introductions and notes.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By doc peterson VINE VOICE on September 17, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Perhaps I am being a bit pedantic in my mediocre review of _Ancient Egyptian Literature_, but the flaws in the translation and the relative narrowness of its scope compared to other anthologies warrant a solid 3 star review. Lichtheim's introduction is fantastic - its explanation of the role and importance of Egyptian writing strikes a perfect balance between clarity and academic exposition. However her translation of the Htp di Nsw ("Hotep di nesu" - a formulaic prayer common throughout Ancient Egypt) immediately caught my attention.

The prayer ("An offering the king makes ...") should be translated with the preposition "for" or better, "to" ("An offering the king makes to [insert diety here: Ra, Set, Anubis ...]") - yet Lichtheim has is as "An offering which the king gives and Anubis ..." which really makes no sense at all given the context and purpose of the prayer not to mention it is simply incorrect. Admittedly I am being nit-picky here, but such a basic error brought into question the accuracy of the rest of the literature she translates. This minor issue aside, the selection of literature in the anthology is good: Lichtheim includes autobiographical stelea, excerpts from the Book of the Dead, songs and hymns and a handful of prose tales. Taken as a whole, they give a solild overview of Old Kingdom and Middle Kingdom literature. Were this the only book on the subject, it would warrant a much higher rating from me. However, it is not.
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