chapter  6
18 Pages

LITERATURE AS A CONSTRUCTION OF THE PAST IN THE MIDDLE KINGDOM

Historians such as Liverani in principle counsel scepticism, or at least caution, regarding surface-historicity. The realization of the existence of secondary historicity, as distinct from surface historicity, has led Egyptologists to date fictional texts set in the 'Time of the Regions' to a more recent time. A fundamental technical prerequisite for belles lettres was supplied by a sort of media revolution: in the early second millennium BC an extraordinary expansion in the use of writing becomes discernible in several sectors of Egyptian society. The belles lettres of the Egyptian Middle Kingdom can be considered 'Palimpsest Literature', that is, literature in which a model textual genre is played with, giving rise to a new, literary, text. Belles lettres texts were authored without deliberate reference to a particular point in time - for instance the 'Shipwrecked Sailor' or the so-called 'Herdsman's Tale'.