Lingua Aegyptia

Lingua Aegyptia – Studia monographica 10

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Richard B. Parkinson

The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant: A Reader’s Commentary

Lingua Aegyptia – Studia Monographica 10, Hamburg 2012: Widmaier Verlag
xii + 384 pages, hardcover (ISBN: 978-3-943955-10-1)


The book provides a commentary on one of the best known poems from the Middle Kingdom, The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant, from c. 1840 BC. An introduction covers issues of composition and reception in the Middle Kingdom; language and imagery; naturalism, artifice and immediacy; cultural themes; and later and modern receptions. The commentary includes the text in transliteration and translation with a line by line commentary discussing points of philology, lexicography, style, intertext, context, meaning and possible emotional and aesthetic impact. The volume is intended to assist anyone wishing to read the poem in its original language, and is laid out with text and commentary on the same page to enable an integrated experience of reading, following the precedent of other academic commentaries on classic works of world literature. Figures are included to help embed the poem in its material culture and landscape. An index of words is also provided.  The book complements the existing text edition of the poem and the new photographic publications of the main manuscripts by the author.

R. B. Parkinson was trained at Oxford, and this volume is a radically rewritten version of this doctoral thesis there, drawing on his experience of teaching text classes at Oxford, Göttingen and Köln. He has worked in the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan at the British Museum since 1991, where he curates the collections of papyri, and specific research projects include the Nebamun wall-paintings and the Ramesseum papyri. His personal research remains centred around the interpretation of Middle Kingdom poetry. Apart from specialist articles, museum publications and children’s books, related monographs include: The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant (1991, 2005); Poetry and Culture in Middle Kingdom Egypt: A Dark Side to Perfection (2002, 2010); Reading Ancient Egyptian Poetry: Among Other Histories (2009), The Ramesseum Papyri (2012).

See also Richard B. Parkinson's current project Reading Ancient Egyptian poems.