[ilds] The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Wed Aug 17 11:42:57 PDT 2011

James, good example, Semira's nose, as you've noted in your note.  How writers use their sources is what's important, not the validity of those materials.  I'm not disappointed to know a piece of fiction is based on a fake, but I am concerned about fiction becoming a fake. 


On Aug 17, 2011, at 10:20 AM, James Gifford wrote:

> I think back to LD's lifting of a Groddeck case file about the relation between excitation of the nasal nerves with cocaine proving that the nose and the penis are connected, which is the real reason everyone's so afraid of syphilis...  ($%#?)  Deeply bogus, but it became Semira's nose.  While I doubt Durrell would have believed it, I'm certain he found it useful.
> I think of Umberto Eco's /Foucault's Pendulum/ appearing in the aftermath of /Holy Blood, Holy Grail/.  Fun speculative history might not be true, but it's certainly fodder for fiction!  Then again, why are we sometimes disappointed to discover fiction is based on a fake?
> Allan Moore practices magic, which he says he knows is a fake, but he does it anyway and writes about it...
> Best,
> James
> On 17/08/11 9:34 AM, Bruce Redwine wrote:
>> Thanks for the review. It's interesting and informative. So, /The
>> Tibetan Book of the Dead/ may be bogus, just as Madame Blavatsky's
>> writings were? Bogus or not, the focus should be, I think, on how
>> Durrell responded and interpreted such materials. Durrell, after all,
>> was a poet, not a scholar, and should not be held to the standards of
>> the latter.
>> Bruce
>> On Aug 17, 2011, at 2:17 AM, Richard Pine wrote:
>>> Apropos Anna's reference to the Tibetan Book of the Dead, a brief
>>> review of Donald S Lopez Jr's 'The Tibetan Book of the Dead: a
>>> biography' in TLS (17/6/11) by Mark Vernon states: 'it is not really a
>>> book and is hardly known in Tibet. Rather, it is the product of the
>>> creative editing of Walter Evans-Wentz, a Victorian Theosophist.His
>>> literary assembly owes as much to the doctrines of Madame Blavatsky as
>>> the purported author, Padmasambhava.... Evens-Wentz drew from a cycle
>>> of texts called the Bardo Thodol....' and so on.
>>> The 'literary assembly' suggests the same kind of endeavour as that of
>>> Elias Lonnrot, whose 'Kalevala' is regarded as the Finnish national
>>> epic, but which was 'assembled' by Lonnrot over a long period (mainly
>>> the 1830s) in Karelia.
>>> RP
>>> *From:* Anna Lillios <Anna.Lillios at ucf.edu <mailto:Anna.Lillios at ucf.edu>>
>>> *To:* "ilds at lists.uvic.ca <mailto:ilds at lists.uvic.ca>"
>>> <ilds at lists.uvic.ca <mailto:ilds at lists.uvic.ca>>
>>> *Sent:* Tuesday, August 16, 2011 9:57 PM
>>> *Subject:* Re: [ilds] The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead
>>> 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.
>>> --Anna
>>> *From:* ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca <mailto: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 <mailto:ilds at lists.uvic.ca>
>>> *Cc:* Bruce Redwine
>>> *Subject:* Re: [ilds] The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead
>>> Merrianne,
>>> 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.
>>> Bruce
>>> On Aug 16, 2011, at 7:43 AM, timlot at comcast.net
>>> <mailto:timlot at comcast.net> wrote:
>>>> Bruce,
>>>> 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
>>>> throughamazon.com <http://amazon.com/>).
>>>> Also, are you familiar with Freud's interest in collecting
>>>> antiquities, including Egyptian objects?
>>>> Merrianne
>>>> *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.
>>>> Bruce

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