Hor ペーパーバック – 2016/5/14
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'Hor' is both a novel and a book-length prose-poem. Based on the most sacred of ancient Egyptian texts, it tells the story of the journey of the sun-god, Re, through the Underworld towards the dawn. Woven into this central theme are the mysteries of the ancient mythology as recorded in such texts as the Book of the Dead and the Book of Caverns from the tomb of the pharaoh, Rameses VI.
I read Hor many years after I read Vertical Line. I was expecting prose-poetry, and this I certainly found, but I also expected a similar impressionism to that in Vertical Line. It is not.
This book is very beautiful description of life in Ancient Egypt. I don’t know where Preston obtained his knowledge of the time and place, but he certainly convinces you that you are there. I understand the story is taken from a translation of a wall painting, but this book captures a unique atmosphere, that I would like to believe is authentic.
Preston’s prose-poetry is first class. I actually cannot think of a better example anywhere in the world. I don’t know if academics would join me in comparing it Pope’s poetic translation of Homer’s The Odyssey, which I know very well, or Paradise Lost, but it is certainly as evocative and beautiful. One line in particular stands out:
“The cracking of backbones, the skulls splitting open and portions of flesh in wine and with spices.”
Preston’s use of onomatopoeia is here perfect.
Hor is up there with the best literature in the West, and, I suspect, The East. I only hope Peter Preston gets the recognition he deserves, while he is still around.