The Egyptian Book of the Dead

Bkwyrm reviews The Egyptian Book of the Dead by E A Wallis Budge in the Bkwyrm archive.

Budge The Egyptian Book of the Dead

There are probably better translations, and certainly better commentary, but I’m rather attached to old Budge. The Book of the Dead is without a doubt one of the most influential books in all history. Chapters of it were carved on the pyramids of the ancient 5th dynasty, texts were written in papyrus, and selections were painted on mummy cases well into the Christian Era. The work embodies a ritual to be performed for the dead, with detailed instructions for the behavior of the spirit in the Land of the Dead, and served as the most important repository of religious authority for some three thousand years. This work is the Papyrus of Ani, a full version of the Theban recension. The work contains a copy of the Egyptian hieroglyphs, an inter-linear transliteration of their sounds (as reconstructed), a word-for-word translation, and separately a complete smooth translation. All this is preceeded by an introduction that is 150 pages long. Budge was a Victorian, this shows in his translation. Many people have taken issue with some of the meanings he infers in the Book of the Dead, and other translations made since 1895 have gained more respect than Budge’s version. Still, as I said, I’m attached to Budge. Even if you don’t think you’d want to read a Victorian translation of this work, read some translation of it. It’s an important work to be familiar with.

You can find this book at Amazon, Abebooks, and Powell’s.