❰PDF❯ ✅ Ancient Evenings Author Norman Mailer – Saudionline.co.uk


  • Paperback
  • 709 pages
  • Ancient Evenings
  • Norman Mailer
  • English
  • 13 April 2018
  • 9780349109701

15 thoughts on “Ancient Evenings

  1. says:

    Ancient Evenings is a thoroughly unpleasant novel in it Norman Mailer almost sadistically admires all sorts of violence and atrocity If he were an Egyptian deity he surely wouldn t have been Thoth or Horus, he would have been Seth or Anubis So the novel may be considered as Norman Mailer s historical Fleurs du Mal or some tenebrously romantic Totentanz The is a highly poetic song Islands of the Dead by Be Bop Deluxe Come with me to the fire festival, let us burn each other blind 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 and ash of laughter in your head, sweet laughter, hereafter, ever after, in the islands of the dead.And in Ancient Evenings Norman Mailer literally takes us inside the Book 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.History is no less a sanguinary myth than all those bloodthirsty and scatological deities that dwelt in the heads of our ancient forefathers.


  2. says:

    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 Fantastically detailed and colorful, truly a literary masterpiece yet maintaining Mailer s personality, as if he were narrating with a wink and grin.What stands out and is memorial is the frank sexuality of Mailer s narrative He describes a lusty populace with heightened awareness of themselves as sexual creatures.Mailer s language is rich and his story complex, spiritual and psychological under the canopy of the myth and legend This is an artistic achievement Was it an hour, or a week before the light of the moon rose in the interior of my body A bird with luminous wings flew in front of that full moon, and its head was as radiant as a point of light That bird must be the Khu this sweet bird of the night a creature of divine intelligence loaned to us just so much as the Ren or the Sekhem Yes, the Khu was a light in your mind while you lived, but in death, it must return to heaven For the Khu was also eternal.


  3. says:

    Beyond any doubt, Mailer can write witness the incredibly vivid, disorienting, existentially inebriated explosiveness of a Nile nourished soul s rupturing reincarnation within fleshly garb that opens Ancient Evenings 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 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 Oh Sayh Kann Yu Seeh s bung is flowering from sperm seed 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, yet makes for interesting reading material Rather, 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 illuminating, rewarding, and challenging literary experience.


  4. says:

    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 structure 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 about it than the rest combined God help me if I can tell you exactly why This book made me feel like a kid again needing to turn one page.


  5. says:

    In a recent post on my blog, I 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 Ancient Evenings is the autobiography of a Ka, the lowliest soul of the seven souls of the ancient Egyptians, which makes for unusual reading Especially because Mailer uses an uncensored version of Egyptian mythology which, to put it mildly, differs from the version you get of it from the National Geographic 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 Strangely and despite my bellyaching about all of the historical attention paid to ancient Egypt, reading this novel has underscored how seldom ancient Egypt has been explored in fiction Science fiction has adopted Egypt as an aesthetic treasure trove from which to draw tropes and visuals much like fantasy has used the Middle Ages , but 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 100,000th author to set a novel in Victorian London, we rarely get to place ourselves imaginatively in certain 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 into a premodern time period neither is it useful to envision all precursors to our modernity as 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 a 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 I expect by reading them to form a complete opinion concerning Mailer s level of scholarship and authenticity in portraying ancient Egyptians, but I suspect it is rather high.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 The most self contained narrative episode of Ancient Evenings relates the story of the deities Isis and Osiris 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 700plus 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 between men and women, men and men, women and women, people and animals participants range from two to the hundreds seriously, you have never seen battle depicted like this oral, anal, manual and anything else you can imagine occurs he portrays sex as it demonstrates for both sexes love, lust, domination, curiosity, rage and friendship sex for Mailer s characters can yield shame, elation, or insight 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 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 thingsahemthing Compiling a list of Mailer s euphemisms for the penis would yield a monotonous, if periodically amusing, read And this goes back to the feeling I kept getting while reading the novel that I was, in fact, peeping at girly magazine Ancient Evenings is not like porn insofar as it has a higher purpose than portraying sex for titillation It is exactly like porn insofar as it is so profoundly phallocentric as to seem frequently comical.The male member is described, referred to, manipulated, named, and prized to a farcical degree by Mailer via all of his characters Women and at least one of their erogenous zones are not ignored certainly, and some female characters only the most powerful and goddess like, however are three dimensionally drawn than others, but female sexuality as a whole in Ancient Evenings retains the unidirectional telos and raison d tre of porn it s all about the cock.True, many modern portrayals of sex, pornographic and otherwise, echo Mailer s phallus obsession It is possible that ancient Egypt simply resembles our own time and place in this respect, but I rebel against this thought I find the omnipresence of phallic symbols as fertility symbols very believable, but I assume Egyptians would know and employ other symbols as well and that female symbols of sexual power might also engage their sexuality Ancient Evenings is an otherwise well imagined portrayal of a people for whom the powers that be appeared sexually balanced than strictly patriarchal, and who validated women s sexual appetites and so, I dare to hypothesize, understood and even indulged them It would have been refreshing to read about a group of women who do not behave as though they were reared on the assumption that their own sexuality exists primarily for the use and pleasure of men or that their sexuality mirrors, in perfect inverse, that of men.Observing the many columned Temple of Hatshepsut, Pharaoh Ramses II says to the elder Menenhetet Only a woman would build a temple with nothing but cocks 278 And there is no satire in this comment, no inkling of a minor truth that women learn when still little girls and continue to observe as the boys they know become men many, many males are fascinated by their own dicks and project this fascination out into the world and on to females with an astounding lack of self reflection I suggest, only a man would imagine a woman would build a temple with nothing but cocks Whatever authenticity may mean in this context Small wonder given the folkloric and oral provenance of The Thousand and One Nights I intend no criticism of that amazing work.


  6. says:

    The recent news aboput Mailer being on his deathbed reminded me of my one and only attempt at reading his stuff I must have gotten through at least the first third of this book but godalmighty pretty much just an excuse for vivid descriptions of buggery, buggery, and incest Also, buggery.Dude has issues.


  7. says:

    ANCIENT EVENINGS is so many things It s one of the greatest gay love stories ever written, for one something that is downplayed by reviewers in favor of a categorical dismissal of the novel as merely endless descriptions of sodomy The tempestuous love between Ramses II and Menenhetet I forms the core of the novel, couched in a complicated, beautiful framing device that resembles Proust as much as THE ARABIAN NIGHTS It s also an arty fantasy sci fi epic in the manner of DUNE supernatural elements abound, even though the novel was marketed as historical fiction ANCIENT EVENINGS doesn t have the reputation it deserves both because Mailer has been unfashionable for so long and because it s such a unique novel that readers don t know what to make of it Most people seem not to put forth much of an effort and abandon it during the mythology segment, which I don t understand the prose is actually imminently readable and entertaining and you just have to surrender to it and keep in mind that you will not remember every detail or name mentioned It s certainly the most perverse thing ever to be printed in mass market paperback with NATIONAL BESTSELLER emblazoned on the top The total absence of any kind of modern morality must be disturbing for many readers I myself marveled at how so many hundreds of pages of erotically described incest of every conceivable variety was desensitizing me Reading it can be a kind of existential nightmare you ve died and you re trapped in a pyramid giving your great grandfather a BJ while traveling through time and inhabiting the mind of your mother as she does the same thing This is the shit I m talking about.If you like Sade, D.H Lawrence, DUNE, William Burroughs, Jacqueline Carey s delightfully trashy KUSHIEL S DART, or Kate Bush, you ll like it Contrary to what others say, I think the story ties itself up nicely, and the final trip through the Land of the Dead is stunning and rewarding There is also one final incest shocker in the last ten pages, as unbelievable as that sounds after 830 pages of incest it still serves as an effective twist.


  8. says:

    Driftingis drifting So insists the man with the pus filled eye,even if he is about to be given a severe thrashing by a boatman who violently disagrees But it is a good way to approach this massive,astonishing work of historical fiction that spans dynasties It is also indicative of NM s tendency to mingle the repulsive and the sublime, and in so doing he weaves a rich and vivid tapestry of reality that we can taste and smell and almost touch.No matter that some of the details are sorely askew,although I must wonder if poetic license is really enough to justify making Nefertiti the Queen of Ramses II This led me wonder why he dealt so poorly with Akhneton,and why,with his focus on Ramses II,he omits to place the Jews in their context It is not because he resricted in his point of view Indeed,after my initial bewilderment subsided,I highly admired the way NM slides in and out of different perspectives.Okay,so the majority of the book consists of the prodigous memory of a magically extended lifespan as witnessed by the half asleep greatgrandson,that may all be a hallucination during the longest blowjob in history that takes place between two of the main characters.In great synchronicity,when I logged in to write this review, the quote of the day is from NM whose birthday is today In honour of this, I forgive him his brutish nasties and give him the full five stars for his luxurious,exquisite writing and his unboundable imagination.


  9. says:

    This is an odd one.This is, I think, what Stephen King was trying to say about writing even big books across the length of a season and no longer Few authors can pull off greatness when it comes to projects they hold on to for too long They get complicated, overly dense, they hold onto passages that should be snipped out, they forget the eureka moment that spurred the author to write them, they suffer from Will Self s everything itis.Heller was successful with Something Happened and likely other books of his, but when it comes to tomes as dense as William H Gass , I like what John Gardner said The difference is that my 707 will fly and his is too encrusted with gold to get off the ground I m completely unable to think of dense tomes at the moment because I just woke up, but hopefully you see what I m saying.Mailer did a whole load of research for this one and wanted to pack a lot of Egyptian history into this book However, this means compromising a lot on putting the reader into a scene What I mean is, in order to create a book this dense, Mailer has to use a lot of narrative summary and a lot of that thing you re bored of reading in reviews, often patronisingly italicised telllllllllling not shooooooooowing For example, I could say On the 22nd of February 2013, I shot the family cat Or I could say Heat Light For the fiftieth fucking time I awoke with the sensation of a stinging scratch like a feline sized rapier sliced out my left cheek again, but newly accompanying this was a creeping vengeance in my core Mittens was fucking getting it I stumbled out of bed and so on for, like, 20, 100 pages Whatever But in stretching out the tale tail lol I lack compression and am unable to put so many events in my book But if I compress too much, I m not painting a scene for the reader And this is where Mailer understandably suffers He couldn t choose what to focus on, so he put in everything This book should be maybe 7 different volumes which comprise a fully expanded story, every scene painted in Mailer s best Proustian prose, but if this was the case, would I read them all Probably not Would I enjoy volume 1 of that expanded book than I enjoyed this Probably, but I d also be left with the dissatisfaction that I d begun a series I didn t want to finish So I accept this feeling as an inevitability of the project.Like a sub par Vollmann or a Pynchon mis step But in terms of literature overall, that still ranks it way way highly


  10. says:

    I wonder if Ramses II would enjoy this, all the lovely depictions of him buggering his staffers and everyone else How he lies on his back with his knees in the air like a woman to be pleasured by his harem This is a novel of the Oroficial genre I entered her by her third mouth you can probably guess which one that is There s so much reincarnation going on here, so many misidentified fathers, that we aren t really surprised when characters are murdered as they re having sex and then conspire to become the reincarnated offspring of their own sperm, so that their lover becomes their mother Discovering that one s mother is one s lover in a former life, or one s father is one s uncle, or even stranger genealogical Mobius strips, become routine.844 pages of this is a torture I wish on all mine enemies.


  11. says:

    I can only tell you my experience of the book.It was knocking on the door of greatness The beginning was staggering, and I was floored by the musicality of its sentences, its startling imagery, and the depth of thought that made these ancient Egyptians remind me, as others before me, of aliens in a science fiction novel that is, the past is an alien world I was having an encounter with this novel, like you have with extraterrestials or great beasts This reached its pitch with the Battle of Kadesh, whose inspirations were the Old Testament and the Iliad, and where Mailer, in the whole chapter devoted to the battle, gives his sentences the rush and rhythm of chariot wheels Awesome battle scene So far, with me, he hadn t put a foot wrong Thomas Mann went wrong in Egypt with the ornate style, for me I loved his first Joseph books but in Egypt I sank into the sands of his Biblical loquacity But Mailer, as Old Testamenty as he, hadn t spent a word too much, he was music to my ears Then I hit the Book of Queens It was atrocious, and the novel never clawed up from that low until perhaps the last five pages As for the sex content In the parts I admired, I didn t feel it was gratuitous or ill done I ll thank him for his lessons in unhealthy psychology Once I read a book which I won t even link to, because I hated the book and thought it bad history that told me how common in the ancient world was war rape, man to man as a further vanquishment of a defeated enemy So, there s much oneupmanship in here, where they use such methods to humiliate and see who s ahead of who It s effing unhealthy, like I say nevertheless, when I read that aforementioned nonfiction I was disturbed and disgusted, whereas Mailer doesn t set out to disturb and disgust me and he didn t When he has a humiliate the captive scene entirely from the point of view of the unapologetic perpetrator, I felt I was given insight, in the way fiction can None of what I ve just said goes for the latter part of the book, where sex is stupid, gratuitous and features women I had already noticed that he never has women raped Is that pushing it, even for him I had to wonder But in these stretches you soon notice every single woman is a sex addict, and spare me It s worse than I can say The music is lost too, since he s thrown discipline to the winds and the Egyptians aren t aliens now, they live in your closest daytime soap He took ten years to write this, as he lets us know at the end Maybe he had a brain explosion along the way.


  12. says:

    My story must be long like the length of a snake If I present the head, You will know nothing of the body Only the smile of the snake When I think of Norman Mailer I think of pub pugilism, uxorial impalement, and other egotesticle activititties But with Ancient Evenings, Mailer seems to mostly shed this persona, which is the stuff of such works as Tough Guys Don t Dance and The Fight, and provides the reader with an immersive, imaginative experience.Sure, there is war waging, royal sex by all three mouths, coprophagia, and males dominating each other through the act of buggery, but these obscene scenes are aspects of ancient Egyptian mythology.While reading this 700 page tome, you will all but swim in the Nile, bow before the Pharaoh, visit the whisper laden House of the Secluded eg His harem of little queens , fight in a sea of chariots during the infamous Battle of Kadesh, be embalmed and soaked in natron, and fly as the human headed bird soul known as the Ba.The last couple hundred pages were not as magic infused as the preceding portions I think this might be due to a lack of climax, a monophonic tone, and the content itself However, I have never made the pseudo editorial claim that a book needs fewer pages although I ve said the opposite for DeLillo s magnum opus Underworld , and I wouldn t suggest a circumcision in this case either Rather, Mailer needs voices to enhance the alluring, somewhat soft spoken charm of a humble Borges that desensitizes the eyes over time The prose is never so floral as linguaphiles Rikki Ducornet or Angela Carter, which I think is a sorely missed opportunity.Overall, this dark and brutal book is the decade long product of obsession and research 1972 1982, to be exact My mental depth instrument counted four story fathoms Such a measurement can also be indicative of a love for storytelling, especially the ancient kind.Also, in addition to academic articles and other paraphernalia, I ve found that when researching topics for my meganovel, that I m lucky to come across certain books that almost instantly make me comfortable writing within a given world, and this is one of them I think I ll gift my copy to Karl Sanders of the death metal band Nile next time I see him in concert It could very well inspire another masterpiece album.


  13. says:

    Mailer once remarked that his intention with writing Ancient Evenings was to compose a long sequence of novels telling the history of the Jewish people through the experience of one family, beginning in Ancient Egypt before the arrival of Christ, onward through time past various diasporas , persecutions, genocides, successes and setbacks, with the concluding edition of this fictional saga being somewhere in the future , in outer space, with the eyes of the protagonist trained outwards still As it happens, Mailer was so engrossed in the profound mysteries of Egyptian religious ritual, culture and mythology that he never made past the river Nile All the same, this is a breathtaking read, generations of magic, politics, reincarnations and aggressively ambiguous sexual engorgement roiling through centuries of particularized vanity This is ,as others have correctly asserted, an overlong book , and one suspects that had Mailer been less known and an good editor had applied the blue pencil on those passages that were merely lugubrious , we would have had a tighter, punchier novel But Ancient Evenings is one of those exotic expressions of unexpected genius that the passages that threaten to sink under the weight of all that sexual energy being put forth don t become tedium, but rather the texture of a fantastically realized fever dream there are fantastic battles, eroticism beyond gender, magic in the ancient ways as men and women seek power and dominion over their own soles against mysterious and powerful forces that have placed them in impossible states of yearning This is a brilliant novel by a writer who , I believed, is one of the greatest novelists of the 20th century That last assertion is a debate that won t be resolved here, but I do encourage anyone with a taste for ambitious for historical fiction with a uniquely skewed sense of the supernatural to read this book.


  14. says:

    Wacky, escapist fun, that s neither trash nor highbrow literary fiction but a few notches above pulp.


  15. says:

    Okay, so people either love Mailer, or hate him after dragging myself through Ancient Evenings , I now hate him as well as love him.I am fascinated with Ancient Egypt and usually blown away by Norman Mailer, so I was really looking forward to this book And it started well brilliantly, even with a beginning that keeps the reader on their toes with some crafty twists that somehow incorporates Egyptian mythology with today s sensibilities.But then.But then the book degenerated into a self indulgence by Mailer that can only be described as masturbatory Long winded and so very, very boring, Ancient Evenings becomes a salutation to his key characters, who are also long winded and boring Long, flowery sentences are used to describe the mundane, while revolting vulgarities that serve little purpose are spread throughout the novel.Please read another book by Norman Mailer, if this is the first one you have picked up If you ve read a few, like me, rather re read anything else he wrote.


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