chapter  7
20 Pages

REPRESENTATIONS OF THE PAST IN NEW KINGDOM LITERATURE

This chapter presents the New Kingdom, that is, the centuries from around 1550-1100 BC or the eighteenth to twentieth Dynasties. The term 'literature' is here taken in a rather narrow sense to include texts of educational purport, narrative and lyrical fiction, and entertainment. From a literary point of view the New Kingdom may be divided into two stages/ phases: the pre-Amarna period; and the post-Amarna period. This division seems to be justified on several grounds. Linguistically, in pre-Amarna times, educational, narrative and lyrical texts were couched in the language of Classical Egyptian, albeit of a rather advanced stage. The chapter focuses on scribal reflections of their own literary past in Ramesside times. The non-existence of generic terms for cultural phenomena like 'history', 'theology', 'mythology' and 'literature' does not imply that there were no such phenomena or concepts in the minds of the literate elite.