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Akhenaten: Dweller in Truth Paperback – 1 May 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group (1 May 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385499094
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385499095
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.2 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 864,482 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Taylor VINE VOICE on 17 Oct. 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very interesting little book. It central theme is Akenaten the Sun King who was infamous as a pharaoh both for his rejection of the ancient religons but also in popular fiction for his wife Nefertitti. Akenaten however is not someone who appears in this book nor is this a potted piece of fiction outlinning his life. It is something more profound and with many parallels for any moment in human history. The narrator of the novel lives at a time not long after the death of Akenaten and he seeks the 'truth' behind the pharaoh's religon. The novel follows our narrator as he interviews living witnesses to the kings life, each chapter is a different interview/perspective on the events that took place. The points of view expressed are all completely different, some hate him, some love him, some admire him, some loath him, some don't understanded him however at the end of the novel we have a much more complete picture of a character than if we had read a fictional biography. Naguib Mahfouz has a wonderful way of writing, its easy to read and very simple yet it is beautiful in conveying profound meaning. At the end of the novel the reader is left to make their own mind up and to reflect that the life of the pharaoh who was vilified for his beliefs is as relevant today as it was more than 3000 years ago.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. Bailey VINE VOICE on 9 Jan. 2007
Format: Paperback
This is an intriguing book, purporting to set out to solve a millennia-old puzzle, but ending up as a beguiling case-study regarding truth and perception. The Akhenaten of the title was a deeply controversial Pharaoh in ancient Egypt, who rejected the traditional gods in favour of monothesitic worship of the Sun. A young man, Meriamun, in the years after Akhenaten's death, aims to discover the man behind this strangest of stories.

Some familiarity with Egyptian history might be useful as little background is given by the book, but it is not essential. I began this book with as much knowledge of Akhenaten as Meriamun himself had.

The heretic Pharaoh had moved the seat of government from its ancient location in Thebes, to his own new city, destroying the traditional power bases of religious, political and military leaders. He abandoned the lands at Egypt's borders to her enemies. The art which survives from his reign is unique and strange in Egypt's tradition, showing Akhenaten and his family as pot-bellied people with strangely pointed heads and androgynous features.

But most shockingly, he abandoned the worship of Egypt's traditional deities, placing all his faith in his One God, Aten, represented by the sun disc and its rays, but in reality, living in Akhenaten's heart. To those of us who have experienced Christianity, this is not so strange; to the Egyptians, it was utterly revolutionary. And coming from the Pharaoh, terrestrial representative of the gods, it was perverse.

There has been much speculation as to the causes of all this. Aten worship is the earliest known monotheistic religion; some scholars have sought to link it with the Biblical sojourn of Israel in Egypt. Certainly, in a land filled with gods, it was an incredible innovation.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 31 Oct. 2003
Format: Paperback
In naming his novel Akhenaten: Dweller in Truth, Nobel Prize-winning author Naguib Mahfouz signals his belief that Akhenaten's views of religion, the same views that led Akhenaten to be called the "heretic pharoah," show him to be more a man of our times than a man of his own times. Akhenaten, formerly Amenhotep IV, changed his name to reflect his belief that Aten, the sun god, was more powerful than Amen (Amun), the traditional god of the Egyptians, the god served by a huge and powerful class of priests and recognized as the Most High by the large Egyptian population. Following a mystical revelation, however, he also came to believe that there was a god even higher than Aten--One God, the Sole Creator, who was a god of love, forgiveness, and peace. In this respect, Akhenaten became a pharoah whose beliefs made him seem almost "like one of us."
When Akhenaten eventually prohibited the worship of any god other than the One God, he showed himself to be a zealot more interested in promoting his religious views than in ruling his large and diverse country, more a priest than a pharoah. Whether he was right or not became less important historically than the chaos his views created--the people became fragmented, the priests became infuriated at their sudden loss of political and social power, the enemies of the country saw their opportunity to attack, and the foundation of law and order crumbled in the ensuing cataclysm.
Mahfouz examines Akhenaten's life from the points of view of more than a dozen of his contemporaries, including the High Priest of the new religion, the High Priest of the old religion, Akhenaten's wife Nefertiti, his teacher and counselor, his chief of security, and his doctor, among others.
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