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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.

And make sure to visit The Arnold Bennett Society for expert information and comment on all aspects of the life and work of AB.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Luxor to Aswan

Herodotus wrote: "For any one who sees Egypt, without having heard a word about it before, must perceive, if he has only common powers of observation, that the Egypt to which the Greeks go in their ships is an acquired country, the gift of the Nile." From the air the truth of this observation is very apparent. At least for much of its length Egypt consists of a narrow ribbon of green, heavily cultivated land bordering both sides of the Nile and, beyond, the apparently endless empty expanse of desert. 

To think of Egypt is to think of the great pharaonic monuments - Karnak, Gizan Pyramids, Abu Simbel, Theban Necropolis .... These are indeed impressive structures but also ponderous, formal and in a way depressing as they testify to the colossal egos of the great pharaohs.

There seems to have been little scope for the true artist to express himself amidst all this stone immensity but artists there were indeed, and their work can still be found. For example battle scenes at the Ramesseum and The Habu Temple have a vivid flowing quality, a real sense of action, that any artist would be proud of. 

And at Deir El Medina there are painted tombs which convey to the visitor a real sense of the way of life of the people buried there - they are genuinely beautiful.

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