Historical Reprints Egyptian Tales: translated from the papyri

Egyptian Tales: translated from the papyri

Egyptian Tales: translated from the papyri
Catalog # SKU1151
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name W. M. Flinders Petrie


Egyptian Tales

translated from the papyri

by W.M. Flinders Petrie
Illustrated By Tristram Ellis

This dual-book is a TGS Historical Reprint, first published in 1895. Petrie originally published this work as two books, series one and two. We have combined the two editions into one volume.

In place of regarding Egyptians only as the builders of pyramids and the makers of mummies, we here see the men and women as they lived, their passions, their foibles, their beliefs, and their follies. The old refugee Sanehat craving to be buried with his ancestors in the blessed land, the enterprise and success of the Doomed Prince, the sweetness of Bata, the misfortunes of Ahura, these all live before us, and we can for a brief half hour share the feelings and see with the eyes of those who ruled the world when it was young. This is the real value of these tales, and the power which still belongs to the oldest literature in the world.

Excerpt from the Introduction:

IT is strange that while literature occupies so much attention as at present, and while fiction is the largest division of our book-work, the oldest literature and fiction of the world should yet have remained unpresented to English readers. The tales of ancient Egypt have appeared collectively only in French, in the charming volume of Maspero's "Contes Populaires"; while some have been translated into English at scattered times in volumes of the "Records of the Past." But research moves forward; and translations that were excellent twenty years ago may now be largely improved, as we attain more insight into the language.

For another reason also there is a wide ground for the present volume. In no case have any illustrations been attempted, to give that basis for imagination which is all the more needed when reading of an age and a land unfamiliar to our ideas. When following a narrative, whether of real events or of fiction, many persons--perhaps most--find themselves unconsciously framing in their minds the scenery and the beings of which they are reading. To give a correct picture of the character of each of the various ages to which these tales belong, has been the aim of the present illustrations. A definite period has been assigned to each tale, in accordance with the indications, or the history, involved in it; and, so far as our present knowledge goes, all the details of life in the scenes here illustrated are rendered in accord with the period of the story.

To some purely scholastic minds it may seem presumptuous to intermingle translations of notable documents with fanciful illustrations. But, considering the greater precision with which in recent years we have been able to learn the changes and the fashions of ancient life in Egypt, and the essentially unhistorical nature of most of these tales, there seems ample reason to provide such material for the reader's imagination in following the stories; it may-give them more life and reality, and may emphasise the differences which existed between the different periods to which these tales refer.

It will be noticed how the growth of the novel is shadowed out in the varied grounds and treatment of the tales. The earliest is purely a collection of marvels or fabulous incidents of the simplest kind. Then we advance to contrasts between town and country, between Egypt and foreign lands. Then personal adventure, and the interest in schemes and successes, becomes the staple material; while only in the later periods does character come in as the groundwork. The same may be seen in English literature--first the tales of wonders and strange lands, then the novel of adventure, and lastly the novel of character.

In translating these documents into English I have freely used the various translations already published in other languages; but in all cases more or less revision and retranslation from the original has been made. In this matter I am indebted to Mr. F. Ll. Griffith, who has in some cases--as in Anpu and Bata--almost entirely retranslated the original papyrus. The material followed in each instance will be found stated in the notes accompanying the tales. As to the actual phraseology, I am alone responsible for that. How far original idiom should be retained in any translation is always a debated question, and must entirely depend on the object in view. Here the purpose of rendering the work intelligible to ordinary readers required the modifying of some idioms and the paraphrasing of others. But so far as possible the style and tone of the original has been preserved, and whatever could be easily followed has been left to speak for itself. In many plainnesses of speech the old Egyptian resembled the modern Oriental, or our own forefathers, more than ourselves in this age of squeamishness as yet unparalleled in the world. To avoid offence a few little modifications of words have been made; but rather than give a false impression by tampering with any of the narrative, I have omitted the sequel of the last tale and given only an outline of it. The diction adopted has been the oldest that could be used without affectation when dealing with the early times. It has been purposely modified in the later tales; and in the last--which is of Ptolemaic authorship--a modern style has been followed as more compatible with the later tone of the narrative.

Softbound, Illustrated 5x8, 160+ pages


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