Issue 35, Final Fringe

Tagged: Hieroglyphica

Q&A With Michael Stewart

by Amanda Kimmerly 08.03.2011

The Hieroglyphics, Michael Stewart (Mud Luscious Press, 2011)31-year-old Michael Stewart wrote a novel/la that, like the work of fellow Mud Luscious-er J.A. Tyler, is difficult to classify. Spanning 80 pages, The Hieroglyphics is novella-length, with some paragraphs as compact as one sentence–do we call it prose? Poetry? Should time even be spent packaging imagination into neat, pristine categories? Fiction, after all, is not simply a storage unit!

Shifting the focus to content: The Hieroglyphics is a reinterpreted version of Horapollo Niliacus’s Hieroglyphica. Discovered in 1419, Hieroglyphica totaled 189 explanations of the Egyptian hieroglyphs. Since gaining popularity, however, its authenticity has provoked many questions from Egyptian scholars and inspired new translations in the academia environment. Stewart’s version is a mix of his own research and unique vision of an ancient, misinterpreted world, with heavy emphasis on linguistic tricks and startling images, the type of writing that causes as much pause as reading a book of proverbs.

Stewart teaches creative nonfiction at Brown University.  The Hieroglyphics can be found through Mud Luscious Press.

Amanda Kimmerly: What inspired the idea to re-write Horapollo Niliacus’s Hieroglyphica?

Michael Stewart: A friend who was studying the book in grad school (she was translating it) kept sending me these amazing sentences. After the first dozen I thought, I’ve got to do something with this.... more »

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