[ilds] The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead

Anna Lillios Anna.Lillios at ucf.edu
Tue Aug 16 11:57:50 PDT 2011

Don't forget that there are two BOOKS OF THE DEAD.  The TIBETAN BOOK OF THE DEAD, edited by W.Y. Evans-Wentz, was in Durrell's Sommieres library, I believe.

From: ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca [ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca] on behalf of Bruce Redwine [bredwine1968 at earthlink.net]
Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 1:15 PM
To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
Cc: Bruce Redwine
Subject: Re: [ilds] The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead


Good to know I'm not alone in the curious pursuit of LGD's Egyptological interests.  I once said he had very little, if any, interest in ancient Egypt.  I'm beginning to think otherwise, although I don't think the evidence is obvious.  Yes, Budge's translation of the Book of the Dead is, as one scholar put it, "antiquated."  That translation, however, is the one Durrell read and was the source of his inspiration.  So, I want to try and recover what that experience meant to him.  Freud's small collection of Egyptian antiquities (esp. those seen in the photos of his office in Vienna) are entirely relevant to the culture of the times (I'm thinking of the Egyptian Revival) — and such photos may have indeed been the source of Durrell's interest.  Thanks — that hadn't occurred to me.  Re Egyptology in psychoanalysis, I think Durrell was closer to Jung than Freud — the "collective unconscious," among other things.  Thanks again for the response, and I'd like to see what you're working on, whenever appropriate.


On Aug 16, 2011, at 7:43 AM, timlot at comcast.net<mailto:timlot at comcast.net> wrote:


I have also been working on this topic - but from an Egyptological perspective. You probably know that Budge's translation of the Book of the Dead (popularized and perpetrated by Dover Books) is problematical.

As introductory material in your study, it would be helpful to define the Book of the Dead - a collection of spells (or vignettes) versus a "book" as we know it. You might also find the catalogue of the recent British Museum exhibition helpful - Journey through the Afterlife: Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, by John H. Taylor (available through amazon.com<http://amazon.com>).

Also, are you familiar with Freud's interest in collecting antiquities, including Egyptian objects?



From: "Bruce Redwine" <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net<mailto:bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>>
To: "Durrell list" <ilds at lists.uvic.ca<mailto:ilds at lists.uvic.ca>>
Cc: "Bruce Redwine" <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net<mailto:bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>>
Sent: Monday, August 15, 2011 9:59:45 PM
Subject: [ilds] The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead

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.


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