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Gilgamesh the Hero by Geraldine McCaughrean

Gilgamesh the Hero

by Geraldine McCaughrean

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Easy, enjoyable read - especially for someone unfamiliar with the stories of Gilgamesh. An interesting turn on the myth of the hero's quest. In Gilgamesh's case, he was on a quest for immortality.

I also liked the illustrations. ( )
  tgraettinger | Mar 31, 2017 |
Gilgamesh came up via a Crash Course World History video on Mesopotamia and the boy was intrigued, especially after learning that it is the OLDEST BOOK. EVER. McCaughrean's re-telling is exciting and poetic and super fun to read aloud. Even if Gilgamesh comes across as the world's first Dude King at the outset. ( )
  beckydj | Mar 31, 2013 |
The story chronicles the adult life of Gilgamesh. It contains the arc (transformation) of his life from hated tyrant to trusted friend to compassionate steward of his people. The story opens with a dream that portends the coming of a friend and equal for the restless Gilgamesh. It moves, quickly, to the tale of the wild Enkidu and his domestication. Enkidu travels to Uruk where he battles and befriends Gilgamesh. Together they accomplish great deeds. Their devotion to each other grows, as does their fame. When the gods take Enkidu’s life as punishment for some of these deeds, Gilgamesh falls into a state of depression. The fear of death weighs heavily on his mind. He decides to seek immortality. His quest leads him to a state of ragged wildness, both in body and mind. At the end of his journey he learns immortality is an impossible and an undesirable thing to achieve. Death is inevitable and natural. Once he comes to terms with this, he is able to take delight in life as the precious thing that it is. Not just his life, but also all that surrounds him.
1 vote jasongiles | Oct 11, 2010 |
My son and I have reached chapter seven of Ms. McCaughrean's wondrously lyrical retelling of the Gilgamesh story. We're taking turns reading it aloud. I can't imagine a better alternative at the intersection of Social Studies (ancient Mesopotamia) and Language Arts (fine literature), especially for middle-school boys for whom reading is something to be endured. Ms. McCaughrean wrote for younger readers, but the sparking precision of her prose will be a joy to the teachers and parents who share this work with their charges. ( )
  bobbrussack | Mar 11, 2009 |
From School Library Journal
Grade 6-9-Long before Homer, Sumerians were creatively tackling the human condition. Their epic, preserved by other Near Eastern cultures, focuses especially on themes of friendship and mortality. Gilgamesh is overactive and oversexed (McCaughrean handles this, and a later seduction scene, discreetly), and his status affords plenty of opportunities to act out. The gods balance his personality by matching him (jaded, cultured) with Enkidu (innocent, wild). The pair finds socially constructive outlets-and then Enkidu dies. Gilgamesh suddenly understands his own vulnerability, and sets out to seek immortality. His journey echoes in the Odyssey and in the biblical flood story. McCaughrean's retelling is superb. Faithful to the fragmentary originals, her adaptation adds inspired details, similes, dialogue, and description. It enriches readers' understanding without violating the source. Unlike David Ferry's spare, poetic redaction in Gilgamesh: A New Rendering in English Verse (Farrar, 1992), McCaughrean grippingly and tenderly elaborates. Her language is both vernacular and classic, her pace unslacking, her characterizations deft. This volume will add luster to the author's glittering reputation. The illustrations recall Charles Keeping's bold style; Parkins's thick, dark line gains energy from its rough, unfinished edges. Unframed vignettes seem to emerge out of the text; full-page pictures spill over to the facing page. The somber palette evokes the desert setting, and the style is slightly archaic and wholly vigorous. It would be a pity if the single instance of a bare bottom in one vignette discouraged purchase: this fabulous introduction to the epic tradition deserves a wide readership.
Patricia D. Lothrop, St. George's School, Newport, RI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
  sdavis | Jun 15, 2007 |
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A retelling, based on seventh-century B.C. Assyrian clay tablets, of the wanderings and adventures of the god king, Gilgamesh, who ruled in ancient Mesopotamia (now Iraq) in about 2700 B.C., and of his faithful companion, Enkidu.

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