Gwendolyn MacEwen George Jonas - Essay

George Jonas

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

If Gwendolyn MacEwen's [King of Egypt, King of Dreams] were a landscape it would be a jungle of startling colours and strange sounds, dense vegetation and humid silence. If it were a fruit it would be over-ripe. If it were a dream it would be haunting and vivid and one would try to rouse oneself from it. As a woman it would be dramatic and demanding, with lips too pale and eye shadow too black, a soft voice and razor-sharp fingernails. A very impressive woman, but not everybody's type.

This is not to deny the novel beauty or significance. It is just to say that King of Egypt, King of Dreams is not an easy and comfortable book to read, and it should probably be taken over a period of time and in small doses. A sip could be delicious, a gulp nauseating. Enjoying Gwendolyn MacEwen's style may be an acquired rather than a natural taste. (pp. 37, 40)

Although King of Egypt, King of Dreams is based on historical characters and events, it has very little of the taint of reality. This is not because some licence is taken with facts or because where facts are not known they are replaced by invention. The exact manner in which Akhenaton met his death, or whether Ay was or was not the father of Nefertiti and the brother of Queen Tiy would not seem to affect much the essential reality of the novel. But when the young prince falls "flat on his face in sight of ten visiting ambassadors from Karaduniash" we...

(The entire section is 487 words.)