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Full-bodied recreation of the 14th century BC Egypt
on April 18, 2004
The Egyptian set in the Amarna period of Ancient Egypt during the reigns of the pharaohs Amunhotep III, Akhenaten and Horemheb, covering the concluding years of the 18th dynasty of the New Kingdom (1386 - 1293 BC), an ear in Egyptian history that was marked by significant religious and political upheaval. The Egyptian is Sinuhe, a physician of unknown birth origin who was wrapped and cradled in a reed boat floating down the Nile. As he narrates his life story, which transcended years of warfare, plague, and fierce battle between gods. On the outside The Egyptian delineates the history of Egypt through its inveterate religious devotion to many gods. At the core of the novel finds one man's lifelong journey through many countries, like Babylon, Crete, and Mitannia, to knowledge. Sinehu possessed such lonely idealism that motivated him to devote his life searching for something so intangible yet greater than he beyond his understanding did. He was not ready to merely worshipping the gods - in fact, he insisted on questioning traditions and thus marked him as an outsider of his own culture.
The spine of the novel concerns the ferocious contention between Aton and the Ammon. Pharoach Akhenaten sought to disestablish the old gods with a relatively unknown deity called the Aton as the Ammon, the present godly sponsor, had accumulated so much wealth and power that the Ammon priests began to rival to that of the Pharoach. In order to achieve balance of power between Ammon and the throne, Akhenaten deposed the ancient gods and established Aton as a new state divinity. No sooner had Akhenaten adopted the new deity than Sinuhe ineluctably became entangled in conflict between tradition and innovation. Sinuhe must choose between the way of the heretic Pharoach and the old corrupt system that had blinded many and robbed the freedom of Egyptians.
Miki Waltari deftly uses a prose style evocative of ancient texts that is comparable to Naguib Mahfouz's work in modern Egyptian literature. Unlike Mahfouz, Waltari's book is the first major novel set in ancient Egypt during the 18th dynasty of the New Kingdom in 14th century BC The Egyptian, comibing history, research and imagination, is a timeless re-creation of such largely forgotten era over a prodigious interval of time. The book captures the nuances of war, intrigue, power struggle, wassail, romance, horror, and lavish scnenes of violence. From Sinuhe's intransigence to worshipping false gods springs forth a tale of death and love, man's corruption, cruelty, and lust for power and the warfare between two value systems and religions that amazingly reflect our world today.
2004 (19) © MY