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The Linguist and the Emperor: Napoleon and Champollion's Quest to Decipher the Rosetta Stone (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 8. Februar 2005

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“[A] page turner . . . entertaining history that’s told with gusto and goes down like a pleasant aperitif.”
The Washington Post Book World


“[Meyerson] has inhaled his rich material. It is as if his normal respiration were in cursive, demotic, or hieratic scripts, and acrophonic principles–as if he had always been able to read obelisks and coffins.”

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Daniel Meyerson, an Ellis Fellow at Columbia University, has taught writing at Columbia, New York University, and Bennington College. He is the author of Blood and Splendor: The Lives of Five Tyrants, From Nero to Saddam Hussein. He lives in New York City.

From the Hardcover edition.


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Amazon.com: 2.7 von 5 Sternen 19 Rezensionen
25 von 27 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Croc wrestling and incest on the Nile 4. Juli 2004
Von Robert Albon - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
No story about ancient Egypt would be complete without some mention of the embalming process used to make mummies, so details of that process, such as removing the brains through the nose or the maintenance of the mummy's embalmed (...) separate from his body (apparently it is reattached in the afterworld) are expected.
Some mention of incestuous relationships, especially between royal siblings of the Ptolemy dynasty, is to be expected as well. However, M seems to have attempted to catalog every manner of sexual perversion imaginable in this work of 'meticulous history', such as fetishism (Egyptian priest executed for abusing himself with queen's hair), prison sex, necrophilia (apparently no beautiful woman's corpse was safe in ancient Egypt), rape of captured French soldiers by Bedouin nomads, catamites, costume play (Napoleon dressed as maid, Pharaoh Snefru dressed his harem in nothing but fishnet), cliterectomy, brother-sister incest, mother/sister-daughter/niece-brother/uncle incestuous m?nage ? trois, bestiality, temple prostitutes, etc.
M's tabloid-like coverage continues in sordid detail, such as listing Josephine's lovers (aside from Napoleon): her first husband, an unnamed prisoner, the dandy Hippolyte Charles; and Napoleon's lovers (aside from Josephine): an 18-year-old Austrian archduchess, Mme George, the Polish beauty Countess Walewska, several unnamed Egyptian women, several unnamed Abyssinian slave women, the French lieutenant's wife, Pauline Four?s.
It is hard to see what bearing much of this has on the story at hand, other than to titillate the reader. But don't run out and buy it expecting anything hardcore: there is little detail and M can't even bring himself to say (...). Instead M uses prudish euphemisms such as member or phallus. This really cannot be called linguistics, history, or erotica-it's just gossip.
No taboo is untouched, no matter how detached from the dramatic events which are supposedly the actual topics of the story: cannibalism, a pharaoh feeding his children to dogs, a Roman feeding slave boys to lamprey eels, French soldiers wrestling crocodiles on the Nile, Napoleon having sick prostitutes sewn in sacks and thrown in the Nile, Frederick the Great reassigns a man convicted of bestiality with a horse to a cavalry unit, Marie Antoinette squatting to "pee" in her favorite plum-colored shoes before she is guillotined.
Well, all this might have made for amusing comic relief had there been deep, meaningful discussion of Champollion's linguistic exploits, which, I believe, is the primary reason anyone would purchase this book. However, the discussion of the actual deciphering of the hieroglyphs is much sketchier than I had hoped for.
The brief discussion does provide a succinct outline of Champollion's breakthrough, which started with the deciphering of the readings of proper names, which were set off from the rest of a text by a cartouche, such as Ptolemy, Cleopatra, Alexander the Great, Berenice, Ramesses, etc, and was followed by the discovery that particles and other frequently occurring words were similar in sound to Coptic or were similar in orthographic form to special characters derived from the hieroglyphs and used in written Coptic, a Greek script, to represent sounds not found in Greek. This was enough to disprove previous mistaken assumptions about ancient Egyptian based on Horapollo's Hieroglyphica and establish Champollion as the scholar who finally deciphered the Hieroglyphs.
This book makes for an amusing read, but too much space is taken up with Meyerson's erudite bric-a-brac which might better have been spent on Egyptology and details of the story of how Champollion deciphered of the hieroglyphs.
12 von 13 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen Keys of Egypt 18. Mai 2004
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
What a shame this is disappointing. For anyone wanting a good, well-written modern biography of Champollion, with lots of background on hieroglyphs, they should go for The Keys of Egypt by Lesley & Roy Adkins.
10 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen Do Not Waste Your Time 21. Juni 2006
Von Bob Rothman - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
The story of the Champolion must be fascinating and someday I would like to read about it. I hoped that this book would be such a story, instead it turned out to be a confused mishmash of barely related stories with a bare minimum of information about Champollion and his quest. This must be the shotiest book I have ever read, below even amateur efforts. Avoid at all costs.
8 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen All over the place 19. September 2006
Von a reader - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
I bought this book at a museum bookshop in San Francisco. I was mainly interested in the story of Champollion deciphering the Rosetta Stone. The author jumps all over the place chronologically and topically and doesn't get to the main story of the deciphering of hieroglyphics until the very end. The book is discursive to the point of absurdity. And this guy has taught writing at Columbia University!!! Mon Dieu, what a bad example this book is.
8 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen Untrustworthy but readable 11. April 2006
Von Nicholas J. Richardson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
As I read I encountered an increasing number of factual errors that could easily have been avoided (Hadrian's love-interest, Antinous, for example, was not the eunuch that Meyerson makes him out to be, and Julius Caesar was never the emperor of Rome). If so many things that I knew about were wrong, how could I believe in the accuracy of facts that I didn't know about? The impression that I came away with was one of intellectual arrogance brushing inconvenient facts, or the boring work of actually getting things right, to one side in pursuit of a good, breezy, story. And the storytelling isn't bad, certainly -- but how much better could it have been if it hadn't been quite so masturbatory?

The book wasn't quite irritating enough for me to throw it to one side in disgust. So I soldiered on, feeling, at times, a bit like the French soldiers in the Egyptian desert whom Meyerson so uninterestingly describes. It was barely worth it, however: the ending, in which the author makes a sad and abbreviated attempt to explain what Champollion actually did, doesn't even fizzle -- it is so soaking wet that it puts out the match.
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