Mai Yamani

Wednesday reading — letters and speeches

Yeah, okay, it's technically no longer Wednesday. I was too deep in mourning last night to post about anything other than baseball.

What I've been reading

I reread The Symposium as I was pulling together my Yuletide signup. It is so ridiculously entertaining. No one offered to write it this year, unless they tucked it into a bucket offer, but that's okay. I know that at least one person offered to write all of the other fandoms that I requested, so I have a lot of possibilities to be excited about.

I read Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom, who was the children's editor at Harper & Row from 1940 to 1973 and was thus probably responsible for publishing at least one of your favorite books as a kid, and also wrote amusing letters to its author and/or illustrator.

I read Village Life in Ancient Egypt: Laundry Lists and Love Songs, a collection of documents from Deir el-Medina. It is absolutely full of great little things, like this letter about a useless coworker:
The scribe Pa-baky speaks to his father the draughtsman Ma'a-nakhte-ef.

To the effect that: I heeded what you said to me, 'Let Ib work together with you!' Now look, he spends the day bringing the jar of water. There is no (other) chore for him every single day. He does not listen to your counsel which says to him, 'what have you done today?'

Look, the sun has set and he is far away (with) the jar of water.
This letter speaks to me across the millennia on a profound level.

I read, or attempted to read, or maybe hate-skimmed, The Illustrated Egyptian Book of the Dead, which turned out to have been "translated" by a total crackpot who filters the handful of passages he includes through his neo-Egyptian religious beliefs. Unsurprisingly there are no citations for anything in this book aside from the aforementioned illustrations. This is the closest thing our library has to a translation of the Book of the Dead, too, which is unfortunate.

I read How to Read the Egyptian Book of the Dead. It's by Barry Kemp, the Amarna archaeologist who wrote the book I read a couple of weeks ago, and in spite of the fact that it contains even fewer snippets of text than the above it is approximately 1000 times more useful.

What I'm reading now

Awesomely, the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago offers The Book of the Dead or Going Forth by Day: Ideas of the Ancient Egyptians Concerning the Hereafter as Expressed in Their Own Terms as a free PDF download.

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Re: Have you?
You know, I've read a bit about Tibetan Buddhism, but not all that much really. That should definitely go on my list of books to read.