WHO: Paulo Coelho
WHAT: MANUSCRIPT FOUND IN ACCRA, a novel
WHEN: Published by Knopf April 3, 2013
WHERE: Set in Egypt
WHY: He is the author of the #1 international bestseller,The Alchemist
The story begins…
In December of 1945, two brothers looking for a place to rest found an urn full of papyruses in a cave in the region of Hamra Dom, in Upper Egypt. Instead of telling the local authorities—as the law demanded—they decided to sell them singly in the market for antiquities, thus avoiding attracting the government’s attention. The boys’ mother, fearing “negative energies,” burned several of the newly discovered papyruses.
The following year, for reasons history does not record, the brothers quarreled. Attributing this quarrel to those supposed “negative energies,” the mother handed over the manuscripts to a priest, who sold one of them to the Coptic Museum in Cairo. There, the papyruses were given the name they still bear to this day: manuscripts from Nag Hammadi (a reference to the town nearest to the caves where they were found). One of the museum’s experts, the religious historian Jean Doresse, realized the importance of the discovery and mentioned it for the first time in a publication dated 1948.
The other papyruses began to appear on the black market. The Egyptian government tried to prevent the manuscripts from leaving the country. After the 1952 revolution, most of the material was handed over to the Coptic Museum in Cairo and declared part of the national heritage. Only one text eluded them, and this turned up in an antiquarian shop in Belgium. After vain attempts to sell it in New York and Paris, it was finally acquired by the Carl Jung Institute in 1951. On the death of the famous psychoanalyst, the papyrus, now known as Jung Codex, returned to Cairo, where the almost one thousand pages and fragments of the manuscripts from Nag Hammadi are now to be found.
Translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa.
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