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Ancient Evenings [Mass Market Paperback]

Norman Mailer
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 22 1988
Ancient Evenings, a dazzlingly rich, deeply evocative novel, recreates the long-lost civilisation of Ancient Egypt. Mailer breathes life into the figures of that era; the eighteenth dynasty Pharaoh Rameses and his wife, Queen Nefertiti; Menenhetet, their creature, lover and victim; and the gods and mortals that surround them in intimate and telepathic communion. His hero, three times reincarnated during the novel, moves in the bright sunlight of white temples, in the exquisite gardens of the royal harem, along the majestic flow of the Nile and in the terrifying clash of battle. An outstanding work of creative imagination, Ancient Evenings displays Mailer's obsession with magic, violence and eroticism and lives on in the mind long after the last page has been turned.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Review

Makes a miraculous present of of age-deep memories, bringing to life the rhythms, the images, the sensuousness of lost time New York TIMES Lust, sensuous, sexual beyond gender. A progressive revelation of mysteries, sacred and profane Vogue Spellbinding...stunning Times Literary Supplement --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Norman Mailer is the National Book Award and Pulitzter Prize winning author, a film director and political activist. He died in November 2007. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Publishers Weekly was quoted regarding Mailer's THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THE SON: "...[it's] penetration into Jesus's human heart rivals Dostoyevsky for depth and insight. Its recreation of the world through which Jesus walked is as real as blood. Ultimately, Mailer convinces, more than any writer before him, that for Jesus the man it could have been just like this; and that is, in itself, some sort of literary miracle."I am barely through half of this eight hundred odd page masterwork. Yet I am already amazed by Mailer's ability to penetrate the human heart of the civilization of the spiritual, highly advanced, mysterious Ancient Egypt with ANCIENT EVENINGS.
Mailer seeminngly captures Egypt during a period that could be easily considered antithetically decadent to its many periods of great glory like the First Dynasty's uniting of the "The Two Lands," the Pyramid Age, the 12th Dynasty or the famous 18th, with Akhenaton, Nefertiti, and King Tut. Or, heartbreakingly enough for romantic Egyptophiles like myself, he could be capturing how everyday Egypt, underneath the pomp and circumstance of the persepective of an Egyptologist or the Kingly/Pharonic court ritual (much like Rome millenia later) actually was.
Mailer has always been accused of personalizing himself too much in his work, and the evidence of twentieth century left-of-center White American bohemian life and culture, as well as its self-projected/narcississtic perspective on ancient Egyptian culture, does at times bleed through. African people South of Egypt are referred to in the novel as Negroes or Blacks.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wasn't sure at first... March 13 2000
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I picked this book up used and had trouble to start with - the first 25 pages or so were the equivalent of wading through mud. After reading the reviews here I decided I'd plow through the rest of it or die trying. Fortunately, the writing evened out and became quite casual reading.
It's a weird book to say the least and not like anything I've read (mostly classics, sci-fi and scientific) however it was thoroughly fascinating at the same time. It didn't matter what was going on in the story: the writing was powerful, the thoughts and images of the story clearly conveyed in writing. Very few books can put a picture in your head like this one can.
While the sexual exploits were certainly entertaining (and quite humorous at times) they - like everything in the book - happened for a reason, illustrating the power struggles and state of the mind quite lucidly as the characters interacted with each other.
This book isn't for everyone, but those able to read it cover to cover will think about the book and characters long after finishing it - the mark of any good book as far as I'm concerned.
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By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The story opens with the birth-or I should say-re-birth of the main character Menenhetet.
This description,fiery and mystical, sets the stage for the level of tales to follow. As one reads about the many exploits of Menenhetet, one begins to reflect on ones' own life experiences: the ups and downs, the power ploys, the sexual exploits(of which there are many and varied), and at last both the finality and continuity of life. The descriptions of place such as the palace of Thebes, the Gardens of the little queens (the harem), the battle at Kaddesh, the royal barge, the city of Tyre are all told with stunning clarity and immediacy. Another review described the homosexual scenes between men; there are also some such scenes between the little queens, but all these scenes, including the many heterosexual ones are described with a sensitivity and a focus on power in relationships rarely written about in most modern novels. At least that has been my experience. Finally, the way Mailer writes about the thoughts of the different characters and the way they drift in and out of each others minds made me believe in the ability of a person today to experience transcendent thought. I read the book over six years ago and I am still impressed with its' power over my consiousness.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Well researched but very strange... Dec 15 1997
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Mailer seems obsessed with sex. And not just sex, but what one would normally construe as perverted sex. Initially I dismissed it. Mailer seemed intent on placing the profane and sacred close beside one another. The beautiful and the ugly. This coming together of opposites tended to draw you into the mythological perspective of the book. The 'one-ness' of the sexes, the power and might associated with the act itself. Death and rebirth tossed together in a swirling and nondescript pool of incestuous desires. There was much similarity to passages in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. However, the continuing sexual onslaught of homosexual lust did grow tedious. In fact boring. Whenever two males were left alone, you only had to wait a paragraph or so before they would have homosexual relations. Seemed to me to go a bit beyond the need to establish a mythological basis for the book. Somewhat Freudian even.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
Full of characters who eat the excrement, flesh or [body parts] of a variety of animals in order to gain the wisdom and strength that they offer, Ancient Evenings journeys a path into a world of Ancient Egypt that I have never known. Nor frankly, for that matter, care to. Yet, Mailer's portrait of Rameses II, Usermare as he is known is this work, is incredible. Divine and human, Horus and Set are woven so well into the fabric of of this pharoah's character that his struggle to maintain harmony between these two opposing forces alone is worth wading through the rest of the book. My faith in Ancient Egypt as a whole and its actual traditions is restored by Mailer, however, by the conclusion of this work but not before I have been thoroughly disgusted by a variety of acts descibed by the protagonist Menehetet.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Ancient Evenings by Norman Mailer
Norman Mailer, you say. But this is not what one would expect from Mr. Mailer. This is one novel, 2 novellas and a myth in one book about Ancient Egypt. Read more
Published on Nov. 7 2003 by James R.
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Stuff!
I have read this book over and over again. Every time I read it, something new pops up! This story(s) are beautifully put together and the entire thing is fabtastic! Read more
Published on Feb. 24 2003 by SesshoumarusMiko
3.0 out of 5 stars bien documentado, pero no lleva a ningun sitio
este libro, enorrrrrrrrrrrrrrme es interesante y esta muy bien documentado, tambien esta lleno de malas palabras pero leyendo a mailer uno se acostumbra. Read more
Published on July 9 2000 by Luis Méndez
2.0 out of 5 stars A long way from Mailer's best
There are moments of brilliance in this book, but they're few and far between. This is the third Mailer book I've read, after The Naked And The Dead and The Fight. Read more
Published on May 16 2000 by Grant Stone
4.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable
I suppose this may not be Pulitzer material, but I have to admit that it's certainly quite entertaining. Plus, I found the issues introduced and employed in the book (e.g. Read more
Published on May 2 2000
1.0 out of 5 stars Simply awful.
This was a magnificent waste of time -- not only is it hard to read, but there is no pay off! From start to finish the book is a tangled morass of hallucinogenic flashbacks. Read more
Published on Jan. 5 2000
2.0 out of 5 stars All sound and no fury
This book is a dud, and a long and painful one at that. I've been reading Mailer my entire life. He's written masterpieces (Armies of the Night, Executioner's Song) and there are... Read more
Published on Dec 22 1999
1.0 out of 5 stars What a waste of time!!
Everyone worships Mailer so I thought I would read this one. It was awful! This guy is so out of touch with what people are really interested in today. Read more
Published on Oct. 29 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars All dressed up, nowhere to go
This is a great book, well researched and well written, and highly entertaining until you realize you've struggled through hundreds of difficult pages only to realize-this is going... Read more
Published on Feb. 14 1999 by lodger16@worldnet.att.net
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the considerable effort!
This is a tough book to read, no doubt about it. I put it down twice before reading it through the third time. Read more
Published on Jan. 22 1999
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