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Ancient Evenings: A Novel [Norman Mailer] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Norman Mailer’s dazzlingly rich, deeply evocative novel of. Norman Mailer’s dazzlingly rich, deeply evocative novel of ancient Egypt breathes life into the figures of a lost era: the eighteenth-dynasty Pharaoh. The Norman Mailer Archive has finally opened in Texas. Perhaps now we’ll find out what Ancient Evenings was all about.

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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Ancient Evenings by Norman Mailer.

Ancient Evenings by Norman Mailer. Crossing three millennia to Pharaonic Egypt, this tale returns to that land’s essences – the war, magic, gods, death and reincarnations, the lusts, ambitions, jealousies, and betrayals. Paperbackpages.

Published by Abacus first published To see ancjent your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Ancient Eveningsplease sign up. Is it the one with last sentence ” there is only one God? See 1 question about Ancient Evenings….

Lists with This Book. Ancient Evenings is a thoroughly unpleasant novel — in it Norman Mailer almost sadistically admires all sorts of ajcient and atrocity. Come with me to the fire festival, let us burn each other blind. Let us d Ancient Evenings is a thoroughly unpleasant novel — in it Norman Mailer almost sadistically admires all sorts of violence and atrocity.

Let us dance, let us dance away, dance till the end of time. Come with me to the islands of the dead, to the soul house, to the fire-house, to smoke mai,er ash of laughter in your head, mai,er laughter, hereafter, ever after, in the islands of the dead.

We sail across dominions barely seen, washed by the swells of time. We plow through fields of magnetism. Past and future come together on thunderheads and our dead hearts live with lightning in the wounds of the Gods.

Ancient Evenings – Wikipedia

History is no less a sanguinary myth than all those bloodthirsty and scatological deities that dwelt in the heads of our ancient forefathers. View all 4 comments. Beyond any doubt, Mailer can write: This was so well done that my hopes for the thickish remainder was nigh unbounded.

Alas, Mailer also cannot seem to discipline himself, and his voluminous story progressively spirals into sheer authorial indulgence, almost as if all thoughts of the patient reader accompanying mailfr Beyond any doubt, Mailer can write: Alas, Mailer also cannot seem to discipline himself, and his voluminous story progressively spirals into sheer authorial indulgence, almost as if all thoughts of the patient reader accompanying such hyperkinetic outpourings were abandoned amidst the exuberance of linguistically capturing everything feral, carnal, kinetic, and mytho-spiritual that popcorn-burst within Mailer’s feverish imagination and nailing it down to the page.

As a significant number of my fellow reviewers have made note of, the amount of buggery, grotesque violence, flowery rhetoric, and divine Coptic name-dropping that litters Ancient Evenings proves mind-numbing; rather than shocking or enthralling with its air of casual admission, it renders what should have invoked the portentous and mysterious at a visceral level into an off-key bugling of the tedious and ridiculous.

Maiker bung is flowering from sperm seed!

Ian Hamilton reviews ‘Ancient Evenings’ by Norman Mailer · LRB 16 June

Call the Nilotic plumber! That’s not to say the book isn’t ultimately worth reading, mind—or at least skimming —for the historic trappings, sanguinary armed clashing, ritualistic priestly lubricating, mnemonic Nile barge cruising, and vividly-illustrated details of ancient Egyptian life, with all of its tactile connections to the primordial and unearthly, eveninggs makes for interesting reading material.

Evenkngs, it’s a rueful nod to the fact that Mailer’s inability to restrain himself means not only that a large number of readers will never undertake to finish or even begin this novel, but that those with the fortitude to do so will have been cheated out of what should have proved a far more illuminating, rewarding, and challenging literary experience.


View all 10 comments. Oct 06, Caitlin rated it it was amazing Shelves: As the reviews below suggest, this will be a 1 star or a 5 star for you, but unlikely to be anything much in between. I adore Mailer – for his cockiness, his absolute conviction of his own brilliance, for the sentences whose mailed make me drop my jaw and laugh, for insight, and for buggery.

Who else could write a sprawling Egyptian epic stuffed with filth of roaches and make it so thoroughly mine? I love this best of all he’s written and think abcient it more than the rest combined. God help m As the reviews below suggest, this will be a 1 star or a 5 star for you, but unlikely to be anything much in between.

God help me if I can tell you exactly why. This book made me feel like a kid again – needing to turn one more page.

Ancient Evenings

Aug 25, Sara rated it liked it Shelves: In a recent post on my blogI spent a good deal of time discussing how ancient Egypt receives a disproportionate amount of popular attention as far as classical history goes. And then I promptly began reading a novel by Norman Mailer set in ancient Egypt. I learned about Ancient Evenings and a number of other extremely interesting books from a post by Wilfried Houjebek on the original and worthwhile site SpaceCollective.

Houjebek describes it this way: Especially because Kailer uses an uncensored version of Egyptian mythology which, to put it mildly, differs from the version you get of it from the National Geographic.

Catch of the day: Norman Mailer’s worst book

The Egyptians practised sex magic with the stamina of a bonobo. Mailer makes Aleister Crowley look like a prudish schoolboy. This is the boldest attempt to recreate a radically different mind from ours that I know of, and does so successfully.

Science fiction has adopted Egypt as an aesthetic treasure trove from which to draw tropes and visuals much like fantasy has used the Middle Agesbut fictive explorations of historical ancient Egypt remain scarce. Ancient Evenings in this respect certainly provides a thrill on par with Apocalypto, Mel Gibson’s cinematic rendering of the pre-Columbian Mayan civilization. For reasons best known to the ,th author to set a novel in Victorian London, we rarely get to place ourselves imaginatively in certain more neglected places and periods.

It is a treat to go along with an author or filmmaker while they portray these lesser attended worlds and their inhabitants. To work, this kind of venture requires at least a gesture towards the detail and methodological sophistication of an adept historian.

It is not sufficient to project one’s modern sensibility maileg a premodern time period; neither is it useful to envision all precursors to our modernity evennings quainter, rubish versions of ourselves. That kind of shortsighted anachronism seems clunky and unconvincing even when applied to time periods much closer to our own a great – by which I mean rather dreadful – example of this is One Thousand White Women.

The author undertaking such ancirnt project ideally realizes that past cultures operated not just in different material worlds than we do, but within truly foreign paradigms and cosmologies. The cultural assumptions upon which they based their value systems, their ideas of self and of the world depart radically from our own.

When executed with sensitivity, such a project demands not merely sound research but a real shift of one’s entire epistemological framework.

I think Mailer understood this and attempted it sincerely. He not only spent a good deal of time researching the world in which he set this novel, but his narrative choices exhibit an awareness that ancient Egyptians viewed the world and humans’ place in it in a profoundly different way than do we. Their minds were not our minds. It took Mailer 10 years to complete Ancient Evenings and, without being an expert on ancient Egyptian civilization, I can offer that every time I looked up a reference which seemed either farfetched or peculiarly well-imagined, a factual basis existed for it.

I have actually become so curious regarding the breadth of Mailer’s research that I procured a couple of academic histories about ancient Egyptian society and culture.

Authenticity and historical imaginative responsibility aside, the book possesses other artistic merits. Mailer has given the novel a story-within-a-story narrative structure reminiscent of The Thousand-and-One Nights. As indicated above, we do begin with our protagonist Menenhetet’s ka, or vital spark – that essence which distinguishes the living from the dead – as he awakens in an Egyptian necropolis and realizes he is dead but cannot remember who he was.


Slowly, Menenhetet’s ka recalls himself and, soon, meets the ka of his namesake great-grandfather. The story moves across generations, telling the story of the elder Menenhetet’s four previous lives, and involves tales of charioteers, concubines, and priests, embroiled in wars, palace intrigue, and religious rituals; and yet, through Mailer’s careful emplotment and through the almost supernatural connection of his ancient Egyptians to each other and to their own history, the reader gleans a coherent narrative from the maze.

In contrast with The Thousand-and-One Nights, the story-within-a-story structure of Ancient Evenings supplies a feeling of unity rather than the Arabian tale’s feeling of disjointed rabbit-holing.

But again, while discrete, this story adds much to the arc and cohesion of the novel as a whole given the centrality of deities to daily Egyptian life and so, to Menenhetet’s lives. The tale of Isis and Osiris introduces the reader to the main players in the Egyptian pantheon and also offers a good example of the gods’ vacillating powers, aspects, and associations with one another. This information proves useful as we crawl into Mailer’s well-realized, and highly religious, ancient Egypt.

It also begins to inure us to the litany of sex acts, detailed descriptions of which we will have to wade through in order to make it to the end of this plus-page book. Mailer does a reasonable job of linking sex to some sort of spiritual alchemy. Most Bronze Age cultures situated procreation and fertility, metaphorically and actually, at the center of their religious mythologies and rituals. Mailer’s ancient Egypt reflects this.

Sex comprises an exchange of power, equal or unequal depending. The sexual activity of the pharaoh, indeed all of his physical experiences, are tied to the land itself and to the vital cycles of the Nile. Sex can establish something like a psychic link; although in general Mailer’s Egyptians are capable of hearing each others’ thoughts and even seeing each others’ memories.

In short, sex certainly has a relevant place in the world of Mailer’s story. Nevertheless, the endless if inventive sex scenes made me feel half like a baffled and enthralled, probably giggling, child nervously flipping through a pilfered porn magazine; and half like a bored adult, scoffing and rolling eyes, because I have actually had sex and now these images do not feed my curiosity, but seem superficial and disappointing.

I do not here lodge any accusation of rank sexism at Mr. Mailer, nor am I calling Ancient Evenings pornography. I have formed the distinct impression that Mailer truly used, or felt he used, his depictions of sex to communicate the centrality of sex-as-act and sex-as-metaphor to the spirituality of ancient Egyptians. That is, he does not treat his descriptions as gratuitous and I believe he meant by them to reveal how open and un-tabooed Egyptians behaved with regard to sex.

Mailer’s sex scenes tend to punctuate if not always further the plot. The sex he describes does not only involve bodies, but egos and psyches as well.

Additionally, he references most types of sex imaginable: As with actual sex in the actual world, the meaning all depends on context and participants.

In this way, I would not call Mailer’s use or depiction of sex sexist. I am, however, tempted to call plenty of it juvenile. Mailer definitely crafts female characters with more agency than round-mouthed blow-up dolls, but the drives of their sexuality still seem to mimic the drives of men.

They use sex the same way men do; they want the same things