Drawing on recent advances in Egyptology, R. B. Parkinson's new translations bring to life for the modern reader the golden age of Egyptian fictional literature, the Middle Kingdom (c. 1940-1640 BC). The book features The Tale of Sinuhe, acclaimed as the masterpiece of Egyptian poetry, which tells of a courtier's adventures after he flees Egypt. Other works include stories of fantastic wonders from the court of the builder of the Great Pyramid, a lyrical dialogue between a man and his soul on the nature of death and the problem of suffering, and teachings about the nature of virtue and wisdom, one of which is bitterly spoken from the grave by the assassinated king Amenemhat I, founder of the Twelfth Dynasty.
A general introduction discusses the historical context of the poetry, the nature of poetry, and the role of literature in ancient Egyptian culture., while a full set of notes explicates allusions, details of mythology, place-names, and the like. Parkinson's book provides, for the first time, a literary reading to enable these poems to entertain and instruct the modern reader, as they did their original audiences three-and-a-half thousand years ago.
`Classicists interested in the development of ancient lyric and epic will find plenty to enjoy in Parkinson's elegant and subtle collection of translations of the principal Egyptian literary texts dating to the period known as the Middle Kingdom ... His beautiful translations and thorough, informative yet unobtrusive commentaries work together to convey strongly the poetic qualities of the Egyptian originals ... Parkinson has produced a book of lasting
value here, whose high quality and easy yet authoritative presentation will make these too-long-obscure poems accessible to a wider audience in comparative literary studies, and (I hope) beyond.'
Dominic Montserrat, The Classical Review