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In the winter of 1922-23 archaeologist Howard Carter and his wealthy patron George Herbert, the Fifth Earl of Carnarvon, sensationally opened the tomb of Tutenkhamen. Six weeks later Herbert, the sponsor of the expedition, died in Egypt. The popular press went wild with rumours of a curse on those who disturbed the Pharaoh's rest and for years followed every twist and turn In the winter of 1922-23 archaeologist Howard Carter and his wealthy patron George Herbert, the Fifth Earl of Carnarvon, sensationally opened the tomb of Tutenkhamen. Six weeks later Herbert, the sponsor of the expedition, died in Egypt. The popular press went wild with rumours of a curse on those who disturbed the Pharaoh's rest and for years followed every twist and turn of the fate of the men who had been involved in the historic discovery. Long dismissed by Egyptologists, the mummy's curse remains a part of popular supernatural belief. Roger Luckhurst explores why the myth has captured the British imagination across the centuries, and how it has impacted on popular culture. Tutankhamen was not the first curse story to emerge in British popular culture. This book uncovers the 'true' stories of two extraordinary Victorian gentlemen widely believed at the time to have been cursed by the artefacts they brought home from Egypt in the nineteenth century. These are weird and wonderful stories that weave together a cast of famous writers, painters, feted soldiers, lowly smugglers, respected men of science, disreputable society dames, and spooky spiritualists. Focusing on tales of the curse myth, Roger Luckhurst leads us through Victorian museums, international exhibitions, private collections, the battlefields of Egypt and Sudan, and the writings of figures like Arthur Conan Doyle, Rider Haggard and Algernon Blackwood. Written in an open and accessible style, this volume is the product of over ten years research in London's most curious archives. It explores how we became fascinated with Egypt and how this fascination was fuelled by myth, mystery, and rumour. Moreover, it provides a new and startling path through the cultural history of Victorian England and its colonial possessions.


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In the winter of 1922-23 archaeologist Howard Carter and his wealthy patron George Herbert, the Fifth Earl of Carnarvon, sensationally opened the tomb of Tutenkhamen. Six weeks later Herbert, the sponsor of the expedition, died in Egypt. The popular press went wild with rumours of a curse on those who disturbed the Pharaoh's rest and for years followed every twist and turn In the winter of 1922-23 archaeologist Howard Carter and his wealthy patron George Herbert, the Fifth Earl of Carnarvon, sensationally opened the tomb of Tutenkhamen. Six weeks later Herbert, the sponsor of the expedition, died in Egypt. The popular press went wild with rumours of a curse on those who disturbed the Pharaoh's rest and for years followed every twist and turn of the fate of the men who had been involved in the historic discovery. Long dismissed by Egyptologists, the mummy's curse remains a part of popular supernatural belief. Roger Luckhurst explores why the myth has captured the British imagination across the centuries, and how it has impacted on popular culture. Tutankhamen was not the first curse story to emerge in British popular culture. This book uncovers the 'true' stories of two extraordinary Victorian gentlemen widely believed at the time to have been cursed by the artefacts they brought home from Egypt in the nineteenth century. These are weird and wonderful stories that weave together a cast of famous writers, painters, feted soldiers, lowly smugglers, respected men of science, disreputable society dames, and spooky spiritualists. Focusing on tales of the curse myth, Roger Luckhurst leads us through Victorian museums, international exhibitions, private collections, the battlefields of Egypt and Sudan, and the writings of figures like Arthur Conan Doyle, Rider Haggard and Algernon Blackwood. Written in an open and accessible style, this volume is the product of over ten years research in London's most curious archives. It explores how we became fascinated with Egypt and how this fascination was fuelled by myth, mystery, and rumour. Moreover, it provides a new and startling path through the cultural history of Victorian England and its colonial possessions.

30 review for The Mummy's Curse: the True History of a Dark Fantasy

  1. 4 out of 5

    Suvi

    A fairly academic overview of how the British viewed Egypt over the years, how the curse stories were connected to museums, private collections and changing political situations, and what authors drew from all this. Very light on the latter content with story synopses filling the space. I would have also appreciated a more tighter focus, especially in the chapter about magic and occult that was essentially just a short history of occult societies and magical thinking. Although Luckhurst goes on A fairly academic overview of how the British viewed Egypt over the years, how the curse stories were connected to museums, private collections and changing political situations, and what authors drew from all this. Very light on the latter content with story synopses filling the space. I would have also appreciated a more tighter focus, especially in the chapter about magic and occult that was essentially just a short history of occult societies and magical thinking. Although Luckhurst goes on too many tangents, overall the ideas and arguments are solid and worth the read, and a good base for the collection I'm going to be reading next.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer (bunnyreads)

    I have always loved anything to do with mummies and curses and was so excited about this book! This was not quite what I expected. I think the blurb makes it feel like it would be focused on the story and tales, but it’s definitely more of a reference book. Despite it wasn’t exactly what I hoped and was a bit dull in places, it also had its moments that you couldn’t help but find interesting (especially for me- the behind the scenes of the social and cultural affluence's involved with the digs a I have always loved anything to do with mummies and curses and was so excited about this book! This was not quite what I expected. I think the blurb makes it feel like it would be focused on the story and tales, but it’s definitely more of a reference book. Despite it wasn’t exactly what I hoped and was a bit dull in places, it also had its moments that you couldn’t help but find interesting (especially for me- the behind the scenes of the social and cultural affluence's involved with the digs and museums). Unfortunately this is one of those that probably deserves more stars than I am giving because it's losing them on the grounds of not quite being what I thought. Otherwise it seems to be well-researched and set-up well for studying. About half of this is references (otherwise this no-doubt, really would have taken me 'til next March to finish)and they are noted throughout the book and linked to their appropriate place in the back. I imagine this would be very handy if you are doing research.

  3. 5 out of 5

    David Wasley

    I was enjoying this book but had to abandon it. The publisher has used font that is so tiny I was considering getting out my magnifying glass. Even then it could only be read under the noon day sun.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Neil

    This very readable and immensely detailed academic book constructs a history for an idea that I didn't even realize I took for granted: the notion that Egyptian mummies were frightening, Gothic figures who brought terrible curses on those who unearthed or unwrapped them. Luckhurst opens the book by telling the story of Howard Carter and George Herbert's discovery of pharaoh Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922-23. After Herbert dies, curse stories circulate, and Luckhurst begins to question where this ide This very readable and immensely detailed academic book constructs a history for an idea that I didn't even realize I took for granted: the notion that Egyptian mummies were frightening, Gothic figures who brought terrible curses on those who unearthed or unwrapped them. Luckhurst opens the book by telling the story of Howard Carter and George Herbert's discovery of pharaoh Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922-23. After Herbert dies, curse stories circulate, and Luckhurst begins to question where this idea--that Egyptian tombs brought about the doom of their discoverers--began. Luckhurst follows the opening chapter with an exploration of the literary, architectural, and cultural place of mummies in the long nineteenth century. He clearly demonstrates that mummies were initially not discussed as cursed objects or even particularly frightening ones (people unwrapped them in public at rather spectacular events in the first half of the nineteenth century!!), but that developments in British imperial history, in class consciousness, and in different forms of communication brought about the idea of the mummy's curse. This book touches on many interesting areas of Victorian studies, including material culture, supernatural fiction, and late Victorian occult movements. The reader is spirited from a discussion of early-Victorian Egyptian panoramas to the lurid interactions of W.B. Yeats, Florence Farr, and Aleister Crowley as part of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. This is in many ways a book that I wished I had written, but also something that will prove very valuable for future research. I strongly recommend it, and I think it would be of interest to academics and non-academics alike!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mel

    I saw Roger Luckhurst speak on the topics of this book a couple times and found him really interesting and I learned a lot. This book took the substances of those lectures and developed them further. This book covered a whole range of things I'm interested in Victorian and Edwardian history, gothic literature, the occult, colonialism and Egyptology, museum studies and showed how they were all inter-related. For me the first part of the book where the actual curses were discussed were the least in I saw Roger Luckhurst speak on the topics of this book a couple times and found him really interesting and I learned a lot. This book took the substances of those lectures and developed them further. This book covered a whole range of things I'm interested in Victorian and Edwardian history, gothic literature, the occult, colonialism and Egyptology, museum studies and showed how they were all inter-related. For me the first part of the book where the actual curses were discussed were the least interesting as these were things I'd heard before. For me the most interesting part was the second half where Luckhurst discussed his arguments about the changing nature of how Egypt was viewed from the 19th to the 20th century. He looked at the influence of Egypt on architecture, how Egyptian items were displayed in museums, the changing face of Egyptology in museums, how Egyptian artefacts were described in stories and how curse stories started to circulate. It was also interesting to see the rise in magical thinking. How this went from being something that was supposedly part of "inferior" "primitive" civilisations but was actually on the rise in Britain.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    In truth, I found this more dull than not, limited in scope and certainly not what I thought I was getting. Going from the title and the blurb, I had thought I would be looking at various representations of "the mummy" or Ancient Egyptian curse stories from its beginnings to the common era. Roger Luckhurst instead present an intense view of the societal attitudes from which the "curse stories" sprung to the climax with Tutankhamun's infamous curse. Rather than spanning "centuries", Luckhurst's m In truth, I found this more dull than not, limited in scope and certainly not what I thought I was getting. Going from the title and the blurb, I had thought I would be looking at various representations of "the mummy" or Ancient Egyptian curse stories from its beginnings to the common era. Roger Luckhurst instead present an intense view of the societal attitudes from which the "curse stories" sprung to the climax with Tutankhamun's infamous curse. Rather than spanning "centuries", Luckhurst's main focus is from the late 1800s to about 1930. Parts of The Mummy's Curse are interesting and, indeed, insightful – particularly Luckhurst's conclusion and insight on the evil eye. But more often than not, I found the text a slog and found myself struggling to keep going. If the focus had not only been on the broader history of the mummy figure and not just the facets of British colonialism that spurred the advent of these curse stories, I would have found this far more interesting and relevant to me.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Marcus

    I read this book to research a story I'm writing about an Egyptian curse. For my purposes, the book seemed to ramble into too many areas not specifically related to curses (such as an unusually long diversion on the subject of Pekingese dogs). This apparent lack of focus made me put it down near the halfway point about two months ago, and haven't picked it up since. That said, I highly recommend this book for anyone researching their own Egyptian curse story. It's not a "read it cover to cover" k I read this book to research a story I'm writing about an Egyptian curse. For my purposes, the book seemed to ramble into too many areas not specifically related to curses (such as an unusually long diversion on the subject of Pekingese dogs). This apparent lack of focus made me put it down near the halfway point about two months ago, and haven't picked it up since. That said, I highly recommend this book for anyone researching their own Egyptian curse story. It's not a "read it cover to cover" kind of book, but it is a great resource full of inspirational material for someone devising a mummy's curse of their own.

  8. 5 out of 5

    sabisteb aka callisto

    Netter Überblick über die Ursprünge des Mumienfluchs in der Literatur mit einer Aufzählung der üblichen Verdächtigen. Nichts wirklich Neues. Ich habe es auch nur quergelesen, weil ich es für eine Hausarbeit brauchte und habe mich daher auf die Teile konzentriert, die für mich wichtig waren. Ich sehe Loudens THE MUMMY komplett anders als der Autor, aber jeder ist frei, seine eigeen Meinung zu haben. Ich werde seine Meinung zumindest zitieren.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Susan

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sachin N

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jane Sweeney

  13. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tom Ruffles

    My review: http://tomruffles.blogspot.co.uk/2013... My review: http://tomruffles.blogspot.co.uk/2013...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Carly Richardson

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sophie

  17. 5 out of 5

    Paul Harrison

  18. 5 out of 5

    Chus Bruno

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tony Sims-Novis

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bri

  21. 4 out of 5

    Anna Walters

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

  23. 4 out of 5

    Matt Cardin

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  25. 4 out of 5

    John Gaudet

  26. 4 out of 5

    darchildre

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jill

  28. 5 out of 5

    Vegetable Person

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cathryn Haynes

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