[ilds] The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead

James Gifford james.d.gifford at gmail.com
Mon Aug 15 20:58:28 PDT 2011

I can't give any remarkable details, but in /Panic Spring/, Durrell does 
have a chapter entitled "The Mummy," which details mummification and 
embalming.  The inspiration seems clear...  He details a number of 
things that would have originated in Budge, or kindred sources, such as 
evisceration "per anum," injection of cedar oil the same way, and so 
forth.  The general description seems to match the sequence in 
Herodotus, but it could be anything really.

He was revising the proofs in 1936 and had been working on it in 1935. 
Given the nature of /Panic Spring/, I think it's entirely reasonable to 
postulate from the timeline we do have that composition may have already 
been begun in England, or perhaps the sketching of portions.  When the 
Mummy materials entered the draft, who knows, but Stephanides does 
mention Durrell telling a story akin to the chapter while on Corfu 
(/Autumn Gleanings/ 43-4).  Completion of it in late 1935 or early 1936 
could be narrowed by going through Faber's archives, if they'd let 
someone in...

Sorry I can't help beyond that.  Charles would likely have more specifics.


On 15/08/11 7:59 PM, Bruce Redwine wrote:
> Everyone will recall that Durrell's precursor to /The Alexandria
> Quartet/ was his projected /Book of the Dead./ According to Ian MacNiven
> in his biography of LD, Durrell began his study of the ancient Egyptian
> /Book of the Dead/ on Corfu/(Lawrence Durrell: A Biography/ [London
> 1998], 153-54). That was the E. A. Wallis Budge translation. MacNiven
> based this assertion on Durrell's letter to Miller, ca. late March 1937. So,
> 1. Does anyone dispute this date? I.e., is this in fact the beginning of
> Durrell's interest in the /Book of the Dead? /It seems reasonable to
> assume that he had already begun his studies on the/Book of the Dead /in
> London, at the British Museum, which has a first-class collection of
> ancient Egyptian artifacts. Yes? No?
> /
> /
> 2. Does anyone have an opinion on how Durrell became interested in this
> esoteric material?
> 3. Do Durrell's notebooks shed any light on these questions? Charles? James?
> 4. Is there any discussion of this issue in the scholarly material? I
> haven't found it so far. If so, citations, please.
> A lot of questions. I'd appreciate any assistance. I'm working on this
> topic. Many thanks.
> Bruce
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