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The Epic of Gilgamesh (Penguin Classics) by…
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The Epic of Gilgamesh (Penguin Classics) (edition 2003)

by Anonymous, Andrew George (Translator)

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7,21198494 (3.83)106
Member:CGlanovsky
Title:The Epic of Gilgamesh (Penguin Classics)
Authors:Anonymous
Other authors:Andrew George (Translator)
Info:Penguin Classics (2003), Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Read & Owned, Your library (inactive)
Rating:**1/2
Tags:Iraq, Middle East, Asia, Dead/Endangered Language, Translated, Ancient Lit., Mythology, 20th Century BCE, Non-Western, Norwegian Book Club

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The Epic of Gilgamesh by Anonymous

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English (94)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (98)
Showing 1-5 of 94 (next | show all)
This was my first experience of Gilgamesh, the ancient Sumerian epic that predates Homer's Odyssey by about 1500 years. What a brilliant, simple story; no wonder it has survived. I found Herbert Mason's verse narrative brief and easy to read, but deeply impactful.

Gilgamesh is a king of Uruk (historically, fifth in line after the Great Flood, which the poem mentions). He lives a self-absorbed life, driving his people harshly or neglecting them, using the women, building the walls, but mostly just being idle. He awakens from this life when he meets Enkidu, a man from the wild who has been tamed by a prostitute. Enkidu and Gilgamesh become friends in the most inseparable sense, equals in all.

When Gilgamash is possessed by a desire to destroy the brutish god Humbaba, Enkidu is seized with fear. He knows from his time in the forest of Humbaba's dark power, and pleads with his friend not to go. But Gilgamesh is resolved, and Enkidu accompanies him. Enkidu is killed, and Gilgamesh finally discovers what human sorrow is. Spent with grief, he embarks on a winding quest to bring his friend back to life. What will be the end?

I love the prayer of Ninsun, Gilgamesh's mother who was a minor goddess. She says to the god Shamash,

...Why did you give my son
A restless heart, and now you touch him
With this passion to destroy Humbaba,
And you send him on a journey to a battle
He may never understand, to a door
He cannot open. You inspire him to end
The evil of the world which you abhor
And yet he is a man for all his power
And cannot do your work. You must protect
My son from danger.
(33)

It captures the futility of humanity in our quest for transcendence, our spiritual discontent which we cannot remedy. All our good deeds come to nothing, and the last appeal is always to the deity. Striking also to me was the monotheism of Utnapishtim, the wise man Gilgamesh seeks out to save his friend. Mason hints in the afterword that this expression of monotheism may cause some controversy among scholars... interesting.

Casual readers like me always wonder, when we pick up a work like this of which there are so many versions and translations, if we have chosen The Right One. If we have maximized our reading experience, if we have latched on to something of which those who know would approve. I have to let worries like this go and simply enjoy the book, whichever version it is, that has fallen to me. I don't know what other translations are like, but I found this one intensely human and accessible.

Strangely powerful, from across thousands of years Gilgamesh draws us into its story and remains with us. It is, of course, the universality of loss, the desperation of sorrow, and the long road home of acceptance that make Gilgamesh's journey ours. Recommended. ( )
1 vote wisewoman | Aug 9, 2015 |
Recommended by Heidi Pike
  RhondaHoward | Jul 22, 2015 |
This is a great traditional text for middle and high school students. It is the very first epic poem and dates back to the 3rd millennium BC! This epic is older than Homer's Iliad by 1,500 years. The story follows Gilg,the King of Uruk, on and epic journey. He encounters monsters, gods, and creates a great friendship with a man from the hills. This man from the hills is often interpreted as Noah of the great flood tale in Genesis. The 1972 translation was a National Book Award finalist and it is on numerous "must read" lists.
  PikeH | Jul 16, 2015 |
Gilgamesh, the son of a man and a goddess, is king of the ancient Sumerian city-state of Uruk. Gilgamesh creates too much trouble with the women in the city state and the gods made a man who will be a match for him. Enkidu a trapper finds this man and is terrified, runs then gets advice. He enhances him with pleasures. Enkidu eventually escapes and makes it to Uruk and fights with Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh wins and he eventually wants eternal life which he finds.
I would recommend this to Mr. Poppe. It is a good and detailed book. It has action and suspense. Also a happy ending. For these reasons I will recommend this book since it is a classic.
  claytond.g1 | May 29, 2015 |
A classic tale of a hero in ancient Akkad. Perhaps not all tablets have been found, yet its a story worth reading for anyone interested in the stories of thousands of years ago. ( )
  bdtrump | May 9, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (104 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anonymousprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sîn-leqi-unninnĩEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Kapheim, ThomIllustratormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mitchell, StephenTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sandars, N. K.Translatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burckhardt, GeorgTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Feyter, Theo deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gardner, JohnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
George, AndrewTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hämeen-Anttila, JaakkoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jastrow, MorrisEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kantola, TainaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kovacs, Maureen GalleryTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maier, JohnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marks, John H.Afterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mason, HerbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maul, Stefan M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mitchell, StephenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Muss-Arnolt, WilliamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pasco, RichardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salonen, ArmasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sandars, N.K.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schott, AlbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vanstiphout, HermanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Warring, LennartTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
Für Lilian.
First words
I will proclaim to the world the deeds of Gilgamesh. ...

trans. N.K. Sandars (1960)
It is an old story
But one that can still be told
About a man who loved
And lost a friend to death
And learned he lacked the power
To bring him back to life.

trans. Mason (1972)
The Story
of him who knew the most of all men know;
who made the journey; heartbroken; reconciled;

who knew the way things were before the Flood,
the secret things, the mystery; who went

to the end of the earth, and over; who returned,
and wrote the story on a tablet of stone.

trans. Ferry (1992)
He who saw the Deep, the country's foundation,
    (who) knew . . . , was wise in all matters!
(Gilgamesh, who) saw the Deep, the country's foundation
   (who) knew . . . , was wise in all matters!

(He) . . . everywhere . . .
   and (learnt) of everything the sum of wisdom. 
He saw what was secret, discovered what was hidden. 
   he brought back a tale of before the Deluge.

trans. George (1999) 
He had seen everything, had experienced all emotions,
from exaltation to despair, had been granted a vision
into the great mystery, the secret places,
the primeval days before the Flood. ...

trans. Mitchell (2004)
Quotations
Last words
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Disambiguation notice
This work is any complete, unabridged translation of the Standard Version of The Epic of Gilgamesh. To quote the FAQ on combining - "A work brings together all different copies of a book, regardless of edition, title variation, or language." Translations of the Old Babylonian Versions should remain separate, as should translations of the early Sumerian Gilgamesh stories and poems from which the epic came to be.
Based on currently accepted LibraryThing convention, the Norton Critical Edition is treated as a separate work, ostensibly due to the extensive additional, original material included.
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Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 014044100X, Paperback)

This edition provides a prose rendering of The Epic of Gilgamesh, the cycle of poems preserved on clay tablets surviving from ancient Mesopotamia of the third mi llennium B.C. One of the best and most important pieces of epic poetry from human history, predating even Homer's Iliad by roughly 1,500 years, the Gilgamesh epic tells of the various adventures of that hero-king, including his quest for immortality, and an account of a great flood similar in many details to the Old Testament's story of Noah. The translator also provides an interesting and useful introduction explaining much about the historical context of the poem and the archeological discovery of th e tablets.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:36 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

A great king, strong as the stars in Heaven. Enkidu, a wild and mighty hero, is created by the gods to challenge the arrogant King Gilgamesh. But instead of killing each other, the two become friends. Travelling together to the Cedar Forest, they fight and slay the evil monster Humbaba. But when Enkidu is killed, his death haunts and breaks the mighty Gilgamesh. Terrified of mortality, he resolves to find the secret of eternal life.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

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Editions: 014044100X, 0140449191

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