Ancient Egyptian Literature: A Book of Readings - Vol. 1

Ancient Egyptian Literature: A Book of Readings - Vol. 1

Ancient Egyptian Literature: A Book of Readings - Vol. 1

Ancient Egyptian Literature: A Book of Readings - Vol. 1


First published in 1973 - and followed by Volume II in 1976 and Volume III in 1980 - this anthology has assumed classic status in the field of Egyptology and portrays the remarkable evolution of the literary forms of one of the world's earliest civilizations.

Volume I outlines the early and gradual evolution of Egyptian literary genres, including biographical and historical inscriptions carved on stone, the various classes of literary works written with pen on papyrus, and the mortuary literature that focuses on life after death. Introduced with a new foreword by Antonio Loprieno.

Volume II shows the culmination of these literary genres within the single period known as the New Kingdom (1550-1080 B.C.). With a new foreword by Hans-W. Fischer-Elfert.

Volume III spans the last millennium of Pharaonic civilization, from the tenth century B.C. to the beginning of the Christian era. With a new foreword by Joseph G. Manning.


When Harper Torchbooks reissued Adolf Erman’s Literatur der Ägypter In the English translation of A. M. Blackman, it rendered a service of a peculiar kind, for it brought back Into print a once famous anthology which, though quite obsolete, had not been superseded. Obsolete, because egyptology, being a young science, Is In a state of rapid growth and change. Hence translations published in the 1920s, even if from the pen of the outstanding scholars of the time, do not reflect our current improved understanding. Yet Erman’s Literatur had not been superseded because no other anthology of comparable scope had appeared.

Apart from some compilations done by amateurs, which merely reproduce older translations in modernized language, two types of anthologies have appeared in recent decades. Firstly, there are the scholarly anthologies focusing on one particular type of Egyptian literary works within the narrow confines of belles-lettres. Here we may mention such distinguished works as G. Lefèbvre’s Romans et contes égyptiens (1949), S. Schott’s Altägyptische Liebeslieder (2d ed.; 1950), and E. Brunner-Traut’s Altägyptische Märchen (2d ed.; 1965.) In Italian there is now the sizable anthology of E. Bresciani, Letteratura e poesia dell’antico Egitto (Turin, 1969). And, as this volume went to press, there appeared The Literature of Ancient Egypt; an Anthology of Stories, Instructions, and Poetry, by W. K. Simpson, R. O. Faulkner, and E. F. Wente, Jr. (New Haven, 1972). It offers a small selection of belles-lettres from the Old, Middle, and New Kingdoms. Second, there are the translations of Egyptian texts included in the large, eminently useful, and expensive, volume known as Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, ed. J. B. Pritchard (2d ed.; 1955; 3d ed.; 1969). This has become an indispensable handbook for those who work in the fields of ancient

A. Erman, The Ancient Egyptians: A Sourcebook of their Writings; trans. A. M. Blackman (New York, 1966); orig. English ed., The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians (London, 1927; German orig., 1923).

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