The Middle Kingdom (c.1940-1640 BC) was the golden age of Egyptian fictional literature. "The Tale of Sinuhe", acclaimed as the masterpiece of Egyptian poetry, tells of a courtier's adventures after he flees Egypt, his failure to find a meaningful life abroad, and his eventual return to the security of his homeland. Other works include stories of fantastic wonders from the court of the builder of the Great Pyramid, a lyrical dialogue between a man and his soul on the nature of death and the problem of suffering, and teachings about the nature of virtue and wisdom, one of which is bitterly spoken from the grave by the assassinated king Amenemhat I, founder of the Twelfth Dynasty. These new translations draw on recent advances in Egyptology. A general introduction discusses the historical context, the nature of poetry, and the role of literature in ancient Egyptian culture. A full set of notes explicates allusions, details of mythology, and place-names. They provide a literary reading to enable these poems, aimed to speak to the future, to entertain and instruct the modern reader, as they did their original audiences three-and-a-half thousand years ago.
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