cover image Myth of Isis Osiris

Myth of Isis Osiris

Edith Nesbit, Jules Cash, Jules Cashford. Shambhala Publications, $15 (29pp) ISBN 978-1-56957-909-1

Wonderfully rich Egyptian myths inspire this volume, but they are mummified in an impenetrable presentation. As Cashford notes in a lofty introduction, the myth describes ``the origin of the universe . . . and of the elements necessary to life . . . and of how our world is structured''; it also explores ``the underlying reality beneath what we see.'' The engine driving this vast cosmological vehicle is the story of Osiris, the caretaker of the Nile, and his wife, Isis, both of whom appear amid a Cecil B. DeMille-size cast of other deities. Cashford begins with a gnarled family tree reminiscent of the Bible's ``who begat whom'' chapters, then proceeds with a numbingly literal narrative that makes no concessions to child readers (``After much searching they found all the parts of Osiris except his phallus, which had been swallowed by a fish. But Isis made a model of the missing part''). Color reproductions of tomb paintings and illuminations from the Book of the Dead similarly cater to adult interests. All ages. (Jan.)