THE EGYPTIAN by Mika Waltari

THE EGYPTIAN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This is a fascinating recreation of a period -- a people -- a whole segment of the ancient world. But it is not going to be a book that sells for itself; the time sounds too remote (Egypt prior to and during the brief reign of Tutankhamon); the battle for supremacy between the followers of the god Aon, long worshipped in Egypt, and the now god of truth, Aton, who desires peace and plenty for all, is too pagan to be recognized as having its echoes, its parallels today. The story covers several Pharoahs, during the long and useful life of Sinuhe, physician to royalty, lover of Egypt, observer rather than intimate participator of life. Through his eyes the panorama of ancient Egypt unfolds. The reader sees life going on, the details of custom, of dress, of beliefs, the social attitudes, the political chicanery, the double dealing. Offsetting the character of the physician, who is more or less of an idealist, easily duped by the woman he worships, failing to come to terms with other women who might have taken her place, is his slave, whom he frees, and who is wholly material and becomes vastly wealthy through his wits. Wars between Egypt and her neighbors; journeyings the better to know his world; finally exile to the shores of the Red Sea, take Sinuhe to the greater part of the then known world. He makes friends through his compassion, his gift for healing; he makes enemies; he brings the virtually dead to life-and kills, where need demands. He observes- and remembers- and in his old age writes it down, -- the world as he knew it. It's a rich book, a bawdy book, a book that carries one to distant shores and makes one feel an onlooker as was Sinuhe. The plot is tenuous, a slender thread never wholly resolved. But the book opens one's eyes to an ancient world, nearer to ours than we think. The publishers are backing it with a big promotion campaign as their leader for Fall. It needs proper presentation, to an audience perhaps not rightly keyed to such a book.

Pub Date: Aug. 22nd, 1949
Publisher: Putnam