I have not yet read this translation of the most ancient world epic but I have read the introduction and "dipped in" here and there. And I have read most every other translation available in English. Maybe I should wait to write this review but I feel a bit of urgency, especially if writing this review will encourage some of my fellow "Westerners" ,(and perhaps also some "Near-Easterner" readers), to buy this translation, or any other translation of Gilgamesh for that matter.
I would like to comment for a moment on Stephen Mitchell's introduction which begins: "In Iraq when the dust blows, stopping men and tanks, it brings with it memories of an ancient world, much older than Islam or Christianity. Western civilization originated from that place between the Tigris and the Euphrates, where Hammurabi created his legal code and where Gilgamesh was written -- the oldest story in th world..." Herein,(I am presuming, perhaps pretentiously),is a part of the "point" of why S.Mitchell translated this text now and in this particular political climate. What we are doing when we attack and destroy the "cradle of civilization", (as Mitchell's careful mention of tanks in the opening sentence alludes to), which is modern-day Iraq, is really destroying the very birth place of humanity, which is what Gilgamesh is archetypally a tale of -- becoming more human through intelligence, compassion and love, a basic human vision that transecends geography, history, culutre and religion. The Gilgamesh epic is a testament to the basic, beautiful commanilities of all humanity. Read it for this reason alone. Mitchell's elegant, yet simple and eminently readable style is only, (but not merely), the proverbial "icing on the cake".