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.
“Like the Book of the Dead, the ancient Egyptian document that contained specific instructions and guides for the behavior of the disembodied spirit in the Land of the Gods, the present work is crucial for understanding hieroglyphic Egyptian beliefs about death and the afterlife. It comprises complete hieroglyphic renderings of the texts of two ‘books of the underworld’—the Book Ȧm-Ṭuat and the Book of Gates—which provided the dead with a guide their souls would need to make the journey from this world to the abode of the blessed.
In these books both the living and the dead could learn not only the names, but also the forms, of every god, spirit, soul, specter, demon and monster they were likely to meet along the way. For modern readers, these ancient texts throw considerable light on the development of material and spiritual elements in Egyptian religion and on numerous primitive gods unknown outside these books.
Originally published in three volumes, the books are reprinted here as one work and include English translations and descriptions of all the hieroglyphic texts. Of particular interest to students of Egyptology, these extraordinary documents will also be of value to archeologists and anyone interested in the religions of ancient civilizations.” — back cover