Poetry and Culture in Middle Kingdom Egypt: A Dark Side to Perfection

Poetry and Culture in Middle Kingdom Egypt: A Dark Side to Perfection

Paperback Studies in Egyptology And the Ancient Near East

By (author) R. B. Parkinson


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  • Publisher: Equinox Publishing Ltd
  • Format: Paperback | 416 pages
  • Dimensions: 156mm x 234mm x 33mm | 558g
  • Publication date: 30 December 2010
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 184553770X
  • ISBN 13: 9781845537708
  • Sales rank: 395,203

Product description

The Middle Kingdom (c.1940-1640 BC) was a golden age of Ancient Egyptian writing. This pioneering book is the first comprehensive study of this literary legacy. The status of literature is controversial in many ancient civilizations, and Middle Kingdom poems have often been regarded as propaganda for the ruling dynasty. This study radically reassesses their cultural role, drawing on recent studies of the individual texts, some by the author, and on general developments in literary criticism, to argue that they were entertainments that voiced potentially dissident views while also being integral to elite culture. The book explores literature's status as a differentiated form of discourse, suggesting what social practices made its role possible and offering an innovative model for the reader's engagement with these subtle and complex ancient works. The book also surveys the social and ideological context of literature and proposes readings of the main tales, discourses, and teachings. The conclusion sets the readings in a broad context, while an appendix surveys the entire range of surviving texts.

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Author information

R. B. Parkinson is Assistant Keeper in the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan at the British Museum. His previous publications include an edition of The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant (1991); Voices from Ancient Egypt: An Anthology of Middle Kingdom Writings (1991); The Tale of Sinuhe and other Ancient Egyptian Poems 1940-1640BC (Oxford World Classics 1999); Reading Ancient Egyptian Poetry: Among Other Histories (2009).

Review quote

'[T]he book reviewed here certainly represents a landmark. It is the first monograph devoted to an integral study and interpretation of the entire corpus of literature preserved from the Egyptian Middle Kingdom.' Joachim Friedrich Quack, Freie Universitat Berlin, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 124.2 'This is an extremely important book' Piotr Michalowski, George G. Cameron Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations University of Michigan 'Dr Parkinson has produced a work which surpasses all that has been written on Egyptian literature of the classicA" period till now.' E. Hornung, Professor Emeritus, University of Basel

Table of contents

Part One: Approaches 1. The Study of Middle Kingdom "Literature" 2. General Considerations: Definitions, Genre, Interpretation Part Two: Context and Intertext 3. Texts and Intertext 4. The Social Context 5. Literature and Culture 6. Literary Form 7. Cultural Themes of Literature Part Three: Readings 8. Tales 9. Discourses and Dialogues 10. Teachings 11. Reading the Poems Appendix 1: Survey of the Middle Kingdom Literary Corpus Appendix 2: Kemit