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June 02, 1991|Charles Solomon

EGYPTIAN MAGIC by Sir Wallace Budge (Citadel Press: $8.95, illustrated). A reprint of a treatise originally published in 1899 by a former keeper of antiquities in the British Museum, "Egyptian Magic" reveals the dramatic shift in attitude toward ancient peoples and their beliefs that has occurred during the last century. Budge praises the elements of ancient Egyptian religion, that he interprets as anticipating or overlapping Christian beliefs, as "beautiful, noble, and sublime," while damning the stubbornly pagan aspects of the culture as "gross and childish superstition" or "superstitions that belong to a savage or semi-savage state of existence." The accounts of specific rites and ceremonies retain some of their interest, but most of Budge's work has been superseded by more recent archeological discoveries.

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