Ancient Evenings

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Ancient Evenings
First edition cover
AuthorNorman Mailer
CountryUnited States
GenreHistorical novel
PublisherLittle, Brown & Company
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardback)
Pages709 pp
813/.54 19
LC ClassPS3525.A4152 A79 1983

Ancient Evenings is a novel by American author Norman Mailer. It deals with the lives of two protagonists, one young, one old, in a very alien Ancient Egypt marked by journeys by the dead, reincarnation, and violent and hyper-sexual gods and mortals in a complex combination of historical fiction, allegory, poetic flight, confession and spiritual meditation.

Most but not all of the novel takes place on one long evening in 1123 or 1122 BCE, during which the characters (including Ramesses IX) tell stories of the past. The majority of the book concerns the reign of Ramesses II, approximately 150 years before the night of the narrative; the Battle of Kadesh (1274 BCE) is in turn the central event of this sub-narrative.

The novel had an extremely mixed critical reception marked by a preponderance of negative reviews, with the notable exception of celebrated literary critic Harold Bloom, who praised the work in the New York Review of Books and listed it in the fourth appendix for The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages (1994).

William S. Burroughs acknowledged "Norman Mailer and his Ancient Evenings, for inspiration" in his 1987 novel The Western Lands.[1]



  1. ^ Burroughs, William S. The Western Lands (1987), acknowledgements section.


  • Bloom, Harold (April 28, 1983). "Norman in Egypt". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 2017-08-27.
  • Poirier, Richard (June 10, 1983). "In Pyramid and Palace". Times Literary Supplement. p. 592.