It's by no means an easy book to read. There are 416 pages of in a tiny typeface with no chapter breaks and no rhyme or reason to how the information is...more
This is one of those books that gets me wondering how on earth...more
First off -- it's about Egypt (I know, shocking, right?). If you couldn't care less about Egypt, give this one a pass.
The book itself is extremely well-crafted. Meticulously so. This is a positive and a negative; on the positive side, it's engaging and easily appreciated. On the negative, it's a little too well-crafted for a book that is, in essence, simply letters...more
Don't trust any of the half-dozen voices in Phillip's second novel, a lighter but somehow deeper, more macabre work than his previous look at the Zeitgeist in 1990s Budapest. Phillips mixes fact and fiction to recreate a faux 1920s Egypt full of devious scenes, smart banter, and narrative tricks, particularly when examining hieroglyphics. Different voices and convoluted plots create a surprisingly deep novel about class, illusion, and immortality. Only the narration and ending raise questions; T...more
An interesting scenario told in a brilliant format, with a disappointing ending. The dust jacket (as shown here on Goodreads), boasts of an unpredictable ending, but I (not the brightest or readers) saw it coming for at least half the book.
This is a story of two men. The first is an Australian detective hired to find the lost, bastard, child of an English philanderer. The second is the Egyptologist, Ralph M. Trilipush, who is leaving his professorship at Harvard to find t...more
The format in which it is written is extremely clever. The story is told by two characters, the first is an archeologist who is trying to find the tomb of a possibly fictional Pharoah. His story is told through his journal, letters to his fiance, and through his book notes. The second is a detective who was hired years before this story takes place to locate a bastard son of a wealthy deceased man. He...more
Didn't much like him, but was convinced that there were some perverse, some comical misunderstandings. (view spoiler)[At one point I even thought that Howard Carter was the villian! And though really not likeable either, in the end, I felt sorry only for Ahmed! (hide spoiler)]
Still not sure of everything (view spoiler)[like the actual murder/disappearance of Marlowe...more
"The Egyptologist" is nothing like Phillips's bestselling debut, "Prague" (2002), and yet it's full of all the dazzling talent he showed there. Presented as a collect...more
Phillips, Arthur (2004). The Egyptologist. New York: Random.
Since a novel is itself a written document, a novel that presents characters’ journals and letters is doubly dead, in the sense that it is a document about documents. But maybe it's a good format for a story of long-buried Egyptian kings.
Phillips presents the journals, letters, maps, drawings, and other papers of a 1920’s British explorer in Egypt, an ex-Harvard academic who hopes to discover vast treasure by finding the t...more
For once, it was fun to read a mystery in which the author is actual...more
First, structure. The narrative is divided between two main characters with occasional additions from others. This alone shows literary skill; the book is told in several different and distinct voices.
Second, the chronology has been gone at with an egg whisk. Back and forth we go until things finally start to line up. Sort of.
'Sort of' because absolutely each and every narrator and character is unreliable. Some of what they say is true and some of w...more
I suspect some of the negative reviews are the result of readers who didn't stick with it, readers who didn't quite realize what was going on, or readers who thought Phillips was trying too hard to be clever.
The book has multiple unreliable narrators who are constantly contradicting each other and sending letters across continents. In an interview, the author said one...more
The "end of everything." This is the adult's bogeyman, the only ghoul that survives the nursery to rise before us from time to time and give us quaky guts. This is more than the fear of death, for at one's own demise, one clutches to the condolence that at least something else lives on that represents us or matters to us, somehow preserving us, if only it is the knowledge of the things and people that we love surviving us and enduring. Our children's lives continue, so ours do not really...more
If I hadn't known better, I'd absolutely believe that an aged Australian with a working-class chip on his shoulder, a troubled young American woman and others actually did exist, and that I actually read their letters. This ability to contort his voice so well by mixing up the vocabulary & the rhythms of his characters' speech so smoothly is part of this man's genius.
Another part of this genius...more
The epistolary format is really well done. Each character's voice is obviously influenced by the person they are writing to and even the occasional discrepancies (Ralph's general obnoxiousness is often interrupted by moments of beauty and a peculiar sense of humor that seem at odds...more
Part of the difficulty with this book is that it's hard to like either of the two main narrators. One is an unbelievably pompous amateur scholar who seems to be blissfully oblivious to everything and everyone around him; the other is a hard boiled detective attempting to relive h...more
The journal then begins several months before hand, as he arrives in Cairo on a hunt for an allegedly mythical 13th dynasty pharoah's tomb....more
The old “unreliable narrator” gambit. Taking the book as a whole, it’s easy to dismiss this book as a failed attempt at pulling off the conceit. As I was reading, it held together until about the final quarter of the book.
This is a funny, engaging book whose parts are better than the finished product and ultimately a decent commentary on immortality and madness.
The story is told t...more
Der Leser sollte grundlegend etwas Interesse für Ägypten, und vor allem das Alte Ägypten und archäologische Informationen haben, da reichli...more
The story is mostly in the form of Ralph's journal, which he is specifically writing to document his findings to be published as a book. He also adds in loving messages to his fianc...more
Ralph Trilipush, the title character of Arthur Phillips' novel ''The Egyptologist,'' is a bit like that. He doesn't get bonked with any anvils, but he has the Coyote's single-minded self-destructiveness, working himself deeper into a mess when the wiser course would be to cut and run.