Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Gilgamesh: A New English Version, edited by Stephen Mitchell

Gilgamesh: A New English Version
edited by Stephen Mitchell [299.92 Gil 2004] 

This epic poem reminded me of reading Beowulf. They are both quick reads because of the lengthy introductions and notes sections make the actual story is only about half of the book. Gilgamesh is the main character and is a king of super human strength who is not a particularly nice guy. During the book he befriends a man named Enkidu, a wild man of nature created by the gods to befriend and reform Gilgamesh. He’s tamed by a woman from the city who goes to him in the wilderness and later takes him to the city. Gilgamesh and Enkidu have many epic adventures together but in time Enkidu passes away. So saddened and moody by the death of his friend, and contemplating his own life, Gilgamesh undertakes a journey to find eternal life. He is sort of successful, but it does not turn out like he wanted. In the end he realizes and accepts humans can’t live forever but humanity and his city are able to carry his legacy farther into the future than he’ll be able to live. I thought it was a pretty good story with a lot of adventure, different characters, and food for thought. It’s definitely a story with a moral or message to it but different people will interpret it differently. If you like reading classic literature and enjoy philosophical/literary discussions you’ll probably like this book. I think it may work well for a book group book, even if it’s just a two person book group, because there are a lot of potential conversations you can have about it.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Beowulf: A New Verse Translation, by Seamus Heaney, 829.3 BeoYH, The Song of Roland, 841 Cha 1992]

[ Wikipedia entry for Gilgamesh ] | [ official Stephen Miller’s Gilgamesh web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

Have you read this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

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