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The Dawning Moon of the Mind

Unlocking the Pyramid Texts

Susan Brind Morrow

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The Dawning Moon of the Mind Download image

ISBN10: 0374200106
ISBN13: 9780374200107


304 Pages



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Buried in the Egyptian desert some 4,000 years ago, the Pyramid Texts are among the world's oldest poetry. Yet ever since the discovery of these hieroglyphs in 1881, they have been misconstrued by Western Egyptologists as a garbled collection of primitive myths and incantations, relegating to obscurity their radiant fusion of philosophy, scientific inquiry, and religion.

Now, in a seminal work, the classicist and linguist Susan Brind Morrow has recast the Pyramid Texts as a coherent work of art, arguing that they should be recognized as a formative event in the evolution of human thought. In The Dawning Moon of the Mind she explains how to read hieroglyphs, contextualizes their evocative imagery, and interprets the entire poem. The result is a magisterial religious and philosophical text revealing a profound consciousness of the world with astonishing parallels to Judeo-Christian culture, Buddhism, and Tantra.

More than twenty years in the making, The Dawning Moon of the Mind is a monumental achievement that locates one of the origins of poetic thought in Western culture. Almost before science, art, and written language, these texts set forth the relationship between time and eternity, life and death, history and ideas. In The Dawning Moon of the Mind they emerge in their original luminosity and intelligence alongside a persuasive argument for their central importance to the history of language.


Praise for The Dawning Moon of the Mind

"'The Pyramid Texts,' a four-thousand-year-old set of hieroglyphs in the Pyramid of Unis, have long been dismissed by Egyptologists as a primitive narrative about monsters and animal gods. In this exciting book, Morrow, an archeologist and linguist, argues that they are, instead, 'the earliest surviving body of written poetry and religious philosophy in the world.' She provides a radical new translation and a line-by-line exegesis, presenting an 'unfolding series of poetic riddles,' each with layers of concealed meaning. The complex belief system that emerges suggests that elements of Tantra and the Abrahamic faiths—including virgin birth and the imagery of Adam and Eve—could have their origin in ancient Egypt."—The New Yorker

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt

Hieroglyphs as Nature

The Pyramid of Unis

The outer shell of the pyramid complex on the Saqqara Plateau is dun-colored mud and stone abraded in the desert wind. But hidden within is a vividly illustrated...

About the author

Susan Brind Morrow

Susan Brind Morrow studied classics, Arabic, and Egyptology at Columbia University. She has lived and traveled extensively in Egypt and Sudan, working as an archaeologist and as a Guggenheim Foundation fellow studying natural history, language, and the uses of poetry. Her first book,The Names of Things: A Passage in the Egyptian Desert, was a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir in 1998. She is also the author of Wolves andHoney: A Hidden History of the Natural World.

Alexander Sanger

Susan Brind Morrow

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