The Cannibal Hymn: A Cultural and Literary Study

The Cannibal Hymn: A Cultural and Literary Study

The Cannibal Hymn: A Cultural and Literary Study

The Cannibal Hymn: A Cultural and Literary Study

Excerpt

This volume is not intended as a work of traditional philology. Philology alone is an insufficient tool for analysis of the poetic frame of Egyptian ritual literature, which is not to say that there is no room for improved philological understanding of the Cannibal Hymn. Nor is it intended to provide a systematic literary exegesis, either structural or aesthetic. It is not even intended to present a single coherent interpretation of the text. It is intended, rather, to use a variety of approaches, often rather unsystematically, in an attempt to address problems of the accessibility of Egyptian literature: to examine the interfaces between form, function and meaning in ritual and literature. My aim is an essay on literature as an artefact of cultural history, using this specific text as a case study.

The inaccessibility of Egyptian literature is not simply a matter of incompetent translation, nor of gaps in our knowledge of the meaning of words, the tense of verb-forms or the semantics of different constructions. However literal and accurate a translation may be in principle, the meaning of the Egyptian text is usually far from transparent. the real barriers to understanding are largely cultural: partly ideological and partly connected with genre. a literalist approach to foreign literature, without cultural context, can only reinforce the impression of how strange, even illogical or incoherent the mind of the author or his audience might be. When applied to religious literature, the necessary result is an assessment of underlying theology and ritual as largely incoherent, self-contradictory mumbo-jumbo. I start from the opposite (if not necessarily demonstrable) premise, that Egyptian ritual has to make sense, and represent some pattern of coherence: that the structure of the text, and the imagery and narrative it contains, were meaningful and had direct cultural resonances for the contemporary Egyptian, which is to say that (at least a significant number of) Egyptians of the late Fifth Dynasty would recognise in the Cannibal Hymn a concrete frame of . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.