Tag Archives: Miriam Lichtheim

Ancient Egyptian Literature Vol I

Ancient Egyptian Literature: Volume I: The Old and Middle Kingdoms by Miriam Lichtheim, from University of California Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Miriam Lichtheim Ancient Egyptian Literature Vol I from University of California Press

“The aim of the present volume is to provide, in up-to-date translations, a representative selection of ancient Egyptian literature in a chronological arrangement designed to bring out the evolution of literary forms; and to do this in a convenient and inexpensive format. It is meant to serve several kinds of readers: those who pursue studies within the broad spectrum of ancient Near Eastern civilizations; scholars in other humanistic fields and other readers for whom an acquaintance with ancient Egyptian literature is meaningful; and those who read ancient Egyptian. Translations serve two purposes. They substitute—inadequately—for the original works; and they aid in the study of the originals. It is my hope that this book of readings will be useful on both counts.”

“In preparing the translations I have of course made full use of existing translations and studies, especially the more recent ones, which are scattered throughout the scholarly literature. Evidently a book of readings is up to date only if it reflects the present state of the discipline. Those who are familiar with the texts, however, are aware of the limitations of our understanding, of the conjectural nature of much that is passed off as translation, and of the considerable differences between several translations of one and the same text. Hanec the ‘present state’ of the discipline is an intricate web of consensus and controversy. Agreeing sometimes with one, sometimes with another, interpretation of a difficult passage, I have frequently agreed with none and sought my own solutions. Only in certain cases are these departures from existing translations discussed in the annotations, for to discuss them all would have resulted in an all too heavy philological apparatus, which would not have been in keeping with the major aims of the work. […] If this calls for an apology, I offer the observation that the present state of academic learning is characterized by a vast expansion in the numbers of those participating in it, and hence calls for publications that attempt to reach beyond the confines of professional specialization while at the same time making a contribution to the specialized discipline.” — From the Preface