This is officially the third edition of a volume of translations originally published in hardcover in 1972, and reprinted with expansions in paperback in 1973. That second version remained in print, with a change of covers (from orange to black, and with different art), for over two decades. Its 352 pages contained contributions by R.O. Faulkner and E.F. Wente, Jr., in addition to those by the editor, William Kelly Simpson. Although less comprehensive than Miriam Lichtheim's three-volume "Ancient Egyptian Literature" (University of California Press), it included material not found in that collection, and the quality and the reliability of the translations was at least equally notable. The only defect was that additions to the original selections had been shoved in at the back, instead of grouped with similar works, according to the original plan of the volume.
There have been several new collections of translations in recent years, notably those by John L. Foster and R.B. Parkinson, and I am inclined to consider this "third edition" among them. The selection of material has been changed, Faulkner's selections have been dropped, and two new contributors, Robert K. Ritner and Vincent A. Tobin, have been added. The volume now runs over 600 pages, and only a small portion of the difference is due to greatly expanded bibliographies and generous layout.
Mainly for the benefit of those who know something about ancient Egypt -- especially those familiar with the older version of the book, or the Lichtheim, Foster, or Parkinson collections -- the contents now include:
Narratives and Tales of Middle Egypt (four stories, all familiar, but now based on the latest textual editions); Late Egyptian Stories (nine stories); Instructions, Lamentations, and Dialogues (thirteen texts); "From the Religious Literature," (selections from the Pyramid Texts, the Coffin Texts, and the Book of the Dead -- the "Negative Confession" from Chapter 125 -- and The Hymn to the Aten, Penitential Hymns, and the "Book of the Heavenly Cow," which is at once a myth, a spell, and funerary text); Songs and Royal Hymns (a cycle in honor of Senwosret III, and "The Love Songs and The Song of the Harper"); Royal Stelae (nine texts of widely varying dates); Autobiographies (four texts); Scribal Traditions ("The Satire on the Trades" and selected school exercises); and, finally, the entirely new section of Demotic Literature, including stories (Setne Khaemuas among them), prophecies, fables, and a late Instruction text ('Onchsheshonqy, including the frame story) (eight items).
The useful set of illustrations surviving from the first edition remains unchanged, but has been relocated toward the front of the volume.
Anyone with a serious interest in Ancient Egypt will want to have this book available. Beginners may find it all a bit overwhelming at first, but the introductory material and concise annotations should be helpful, and, with a very little effort from the reader, the stories, poems, and proverbs should begin to speak for themselves. It is clearly intended for serious adult readers, but I was in High School when I read the old 1923 Erman translation of "The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians," in Blackman's 1927 translation from the German, and this is far easier to digest, as well as a lot more up-to-date.
(Come to think of it, Erman/Blackman was probably in the 1966 paperback edition, as "The Ancient Egyptians: A Sourcebook," for which Simpson supplied an introduction and bibliographic notes -- I suppose I've been reading his work even longer than I remembered.)
The only real complaint I would make is that the cover too closely resembles the later printings of the second edition, which likewise featured a pharaonic bust on a black background; if I hadn't seen the thick spine, I wouldn't have looked at the back, seen "Third Edition" in somewhat subdued lettering, and taken time to read part of Simpson's Introduction, which gave me a reason to buy it.