Books of the year 2011: Marina Warner

For the Living and the Dead: the Funerary Laments of Upper Egypt, Ancient and Modern - Elizabeth Wic

 

Elizabeth Wickett travelled extensively in the Nile Valley and over several years she recorded the songs of the women of Luxor who act as professional mourners. Her book For the Living and the Dead: the Funerary Laments of Upper Egypt, Ancient and Modern (IB Tauris, £59.50) includes vivid portraits of them (photographs and interviews), as well as translations of their intense and enraptured laments. She recognises metaphors and motifs that derive from ancient Egyptian magical incantations to protect the dead. Her commentary illuminates this little-known imaginative tradition, now at risk from official religion and the mass media.

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