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Thebes At War

by Naguib Mahfouz
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Anchor
  • Publishing date: 18/10/2005
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9781400076697
  • ISBN: 1400076692

Synopsis

Known and loved throughout Egypt as a work that celebrates the national character, Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz’s Thebes at War tells of a high point in Egyptian history–ancient Egypt’s defeat of Asiatic foreigners who had dominated northern Egypt for two hundred years.

With a visit from a court official and a provocative insult, the southern pharaoh’s long simmering resentment boils over, leading him to commit himself and his heirs to an epic struggle for the throne. Filled with the grand clash of armies, staggering defeats, daring escapes, and glorious victories, and written at a time when Egypt was again under the sway of foreign powers, Thebes at War is a resounding call to remember Egypt’s long and noble history.

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  • Agree with prior reviewers in being a little disappointed in the prose style
    From Amazon

    I too looked forward to reading a book ABOUT ancient Egypt written not only by an Egyptian but by a Nobel prize winner for Literature. I guess then I too must blame the translater for the stodgy dialogue and descriptions. Style also seemed old fashioned which may or may not have to do w/ it being written in the '40's. I have read non fiction reports of this era and this war because my interest was piqued by one of my very favorite Egyptian historical novels the series: The Lords of the Two Lands by Pauline Gedge which I do very much recommend to anyone for comparison with this book.
    Historically, no one can say if Ahmose had an affair with the king's daughter just as there are some fictional elements in Gedge's book.
    Historians are also not sure if Ahmose was Sequenenra's son or grandson, apparently the records are just not clear. Gedge's books ( a trilogy) DO get into the roles of the Tao women (family name of the Theban kings) Aahotep, widow of Sequenenra apparently was for a time regent and was given the Golden Flies by King Ahmose, a seldom given award for MILITARY bravery. They were buried with her and are now in a museum. The mother of Sequenenra, Tetisheri, was also apparently involved in military stategy as well as in holding the family estates while the men were at war, for her as well as Aahotep King Ahmose later erected stalae stating their valuable contributions.
    These facts, as well as photgraphs of Sequenenra's mummy with its 5 or more wounds to the face and head, any one of which would have been fatal, can be seen in several Egyptian history books, including Nicholas Reeves' book about Akhenaten when Reeves is laying the historical framework for the Akhenaten period.
    One problem I had w/ the Mahfouz' book was his emphasis on the evil Hyksos being white skinned. Actually they were Asiatics, the point of course, was he was writing during WWII and this prejudicial and biased writing was probably aimed at British and other European colonists in many non European nations at that time. Nevertheless, just as other biased racial statements made 50-60 years ago are not "forgiveable" now just because "they came from that time period" these should not be either. He over and over again emphasizes the evil of the white skinned people and the purity of the brown skinned.
    Ms Gedge manages to tell the same story without mentioning the minutae of skin color differences which were, as far as we know of THAT era, unimportant to them.
    Other than that problem, which I do understand due to the history of his country and its' situation at the time, I enjoyed reading the book from his point of view, and wish I could read it in the original to find out if the prose would be better than it seems to be.

  • Monotone depiction of the war to reclaim ancient Egypt
    From Amazon

    The Hyksos people, from the Asian continent, were the first foreign rulers of Egyptian land. The story of the book begins at the time when the Hyksos, lead by their King Apophis, were occupying the northern part of Egypt and when Pharaoh Seqenenra was in rule of the southern part. The capital of Apophis was Memphis while that of Seqenenra Thebes.

    Seqenenra is lured into war and gets murdered. The book chronicles the war from that point on till Seqenenra's grandson and Pharaoh Ahmose finally defeats Apophis, reclaims the entirety of Egyptian territory, and starts the New Kingdom. All wars were fought along the Nile, from the southern Nubian city Napata to the final stand off at the northern city of Avaris located in the Nile delta.

    I picked up the book for two reasons. I wanted to get acquainted with ancient Egypt history before I embarked on a trip there. I also wanted to read Mafouz, the only Arabic-language writer to win the Nobel prize in literature to this date. The book turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. For one the story was told monotonically, as a sequence of descriptions of the cities and battles thereat on Ahmose's campaign to Avaris. The story of Ahmose's love interest with Apophis' daughter provided perhaps the only refreshing interludes. However even this affair wasn't delivered as convincingly as it could have been. Intentionally or not, the story telling sounded old.

    I had learned from somewhere that Mafouz' prose is famous for its fluidity. If such is the case the translator of this particular book may be at fault. I plan to read Mafouz' Cairo Trilogy to find out.

  • HOW THE ANCIENT EGYPTIANS GOT RID OF THE HYKSOS
    From Amazon


    I read this because I wanted to see what kind of writing "the winner of the Nobel prize in literature" was doing with ancient Egypt. You must read the introduction probably before and after reading Thebes at War. If you've wondered how the Hyksos were expelled from Egypt, this brings that history to life. The problem with it is that its very stilted in language and I'm not sure if that's how Mahfouz thought they spoke during this time or it simply reflects the very static art and artifacts from the period. It's an exciting tale once one forgets the ponderous dialogue and the hokey love story between Ahmose and the daughter of the Hyksos King. I also was taken back by the descriptions of color of the different peoples -- the white skinned, hook-nosed Hyksos - i.e. the middle eastern Mediterranean people who had crushed Egypt 200 years before. The honey brown Egyptians (Good guys) and the black pygmies. This is probably a reflection of the time Mahfouz wrote this in 1944 when the British really ruled Egypt. If you can forgive the previous, its an imaginative tale of how the Egyptians got rid of the Hyksos.

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