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Ancient Evenings Paperback – October 2, 1997

3.3 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Makes a miraculous present of of age-deep memories, bringing to life the rhythms, the images, the sensuousness of lost time New York TIMES Lust, sensuous, sexual beyond gender. A progressive revelation of mysteries, sacred and profane Vogue Spellbinding...stunning Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

Norman Mailer is the National Book Award and Pulitzter Prize winning author, a film director and political activist. He died in November 2007.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (October 2, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349109702
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349109701
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.3 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,375,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on March 13, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I picked this book up used and had trouble to start with - the first 25 pages or so were the equivalent of wading through mud. After reading the reviews here I decided I'd plow through the rest of it or die trying. Fortunately, the writing evened out and became quite casual reading.
It's a weird book to say the least and not like anything I've read (mostly classics, sci-fi and scientific) however it was thoroughly fascinating at the same time. It didn't matter what was going on in the story: the writing was powerful, the thoughts and images of the story clearly conveyed in writing. Very few books can put a picture in your head like this one can.
While the sexual exploits were certainly entertaining (and quite humorous at times) they - like everything in the book - happened for a reason, illustrating the power struggles and state of the mind quite lucidly as the characters interacted with each other.
This book isn't for everyone, but those able to read it cover to cover will think about the book and characters long after finishing it - the mark of any good book as far as I'm concerned.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a tough book to read, no doubt about it. I put it down twice before reading it through the third time. This is a deeply insightful text, and the plot is mystical to the point of surreal. The story is set in various timelines, as the central character has been reborn several times. In his rendition of his lives Menenhetet paints a picture of ancient Egypt, one that has little if any correlation to our times. So in that sense the book does indeed suck the reader into the time of ancient Egypt. After I read this book I felt much like I did after seeing "Saving Private Ryan" - not particularly entertained, but very moved. I recommend it.
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Norman Mailer, you say. But this is not what one would expect from Mr. Mailer. This is one novel, 2 novellas and a myth in one book about Ancient Egypt. The first part is a surreal scene which introduces us to the Egyptian concept of 'soul'. In the Judeo-Christian world view we have 'a' soul: the Egyptians had many, including the ba and ka to name two. The next is a wonderful retelling of the Osiris myth. The middle half of this large book is the story of Ramesses the Great's military expedition against the Hittites told by his charioteer. (This may be the section of the book most identified as 'Mailer'.) The last part is a dreamy view of life among the royals of ancient Egypt. A great read.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The story opens with the birth-or I should say-re-birth of the main character Menenhetet.
This description,fiery and mystical, sets the stage for the level of tales to follow. As one reads about the many exploits of Menenhetet, one begins to reflect on ones' own life experiences: the ups and downs, the power ploys, the sexual exploits(of which there are many and varied), and at last both the finality and continuity of life. The descriptions of place such as the palace of Thebes, the Gardens of the little queens (the harem), the battle at Kaddesh, the royal barge, the city of Tyre are all told with stunning clarity and immediacy. Another review described the homosexual scenes between men; there are also some such scenes between the little queens, but all these scenes, including the many heterosexual ones are described with a sensitivity and a focus on power in relationships rarely written about in most modern novels. At least that has been my experience. Finally, the way Mailer writes about the thoughts of the different characters and the way they drift in and out of each others minds made me believe in the ability of a person today to experience transcendent thought. I read the book over six years ago and I am still impressed with its' power over my consiousness.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Publishers Weekly was quoted regarding Mailer's THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THE SON: "...[it's] penetration into Jesus's human heart rivals Dostoyevsky for depth and insight. Its recreation of the world through which Jesus walked is as real as blood. Ultimately, Mailer convinces, more than any writer before him, that for Jesus the man it could have been just like this; and that is, in itself, some sort of literary miracle."I am barely through half of this eight hundred odd page masterwork. Yet I am already amazed by Mailer's ability to penetrate the human heart of the civilization of the spiritual, highly advanced, mysterious Ancient Egypt with ANCIENT EVENINGS.
Mailer seeminngly captures Egypt during a period that could be easily considered antithetically decadent to its many periods of great glory like the First Dynasty's uniting of the "The Two Lands," the Pyramid Age, the 12th Dynasty or the famous 18th, with Akhenaton, Nefertiti, and King Tut. Or, heartbreakingly enough for romantic Egyptophiles like myself, he could be capturing how everyday Egypt, underneath the pomp and circumstance of the persepective of an Egyptologist or the Kingly/Pharonic court ritual (much like Rome millenia later) actually was.
Mailer has always been accused of personalizing himself too much in his work, and the evidence of twentieth century left-of-center White American bohemian life and culture, as well as its self-projected/narcississtic perspective on ancient Egyptian culture, does at times bleed through. African people South of Egypt are referred to in the novel as Negroes or Blacks.
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