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Gilgamesh: A New English Version [Audio CD]

Stephen Mitchell , To Be Announced
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 1 2004
An English-language rendering of the world's oldest epic follows the journey of conquest and self-discovery by the king of Uruk, in an edition that includes an introduction that places the story in its historical and cultural context.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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From Publishers Weekly

The acclaimed translator of the Tao Te Ching and the Bhagavad Gita now takes on the oldest book in the world. Inscribed on stone tablets a thousand years before the Iliad and the Bible and found in fragments, Gilgamesh describes the journey of the king of the city of Uruk in what is now Iraq.At the start, Gilgamesh is a young giant with gigantic wealth, power and beauty—and a boundless arrogance that leads him to oppress his people. As an answer to their pleas, the gods create Enkidu to be a double for Gilgamesh, a second self. Learning of this huge, wild man who runs with the animals, Gilgamesh dispatches a priestess to find him and tame him by seducing him. Making love with the priestess awakens Enkidu's consciousness of his true identity as a human being rather than as an animal. Enkidu is taken to the city and to Gilgamesh, who falls in love with him as a soul mate. Soon, however, Gilgamesh takes his beloved friend with him to the Cedar Forest to kill the guardian, the monster Humbaba, in defiance of the gods. Enkidu dies as a result. The overwhelming grief and fear of death that Gilgamesh suffers propels him on a quest for immortality that is as fast-paced and thrilling as a contemporary action film. In the end, Gilgamesh returns to his city. He does not become immortal in the way he thinks he wants to be, but he is able to embrace what is.Relying on existing translations (and in places where there are gaps, on his own imagination), Mitchell seeks language that is as swift and strong as the story itself. He conveys the evenhanded generosity of the original poet, who is as sympathetic toward women and monsters—and the whole range of human emotions and desires—as he is toward his heroes. This wonderful new version of the story of Gilgamesh shows how the story came to achieve literary immortality—not because it is a rare ancient artifact, but because reading it can make people in the here and now feel more completely alive.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Mitchell's version of Gilgamesh should be the standard for general and classroom readers for the foreseeable future. It includes everything in the Akkadian texts, though shorn of some fragmentary passages and emended by Mitchell for clarity (extensive endnotes flag every change Mitchell makes and provide literal translations wherever Mitchell feels such would further illuminate meaning and spirit). The prologue and the closing page, both of which advert to Gilgamesh's great city of Uruk, are cast in five-beat lines, with the story per se in 11 books of four-beat lines. Mitchell manages both meters masterfully, writing verse that is musical and propulsive for all its "free" characteristics. The 66-page introduction interprets the entire poem as a philosophical fable as well as an engaging, episodic story, and not without describing some of the prosodic devices of the ancient Babylonian poem. Mitchell understands the poem to be overarchingly concerned with self-discovery and acceptance, with appreciating that humans are mortal, hence less than the gods, but also capable of love, and thus greater than mere gods. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars Jan. 2 2010
Format:Paperback
The best retelling of the Gilgamesh epic I've come across; my son was assigned this story for a Grade 10 English project so we checked out a number of print and internet versions. Mitchell's was immediately a hit.

Excellent and very detailed Introduction and Notes, and the epic itself flows along "like poetry", to quote my son. Well done, Stephen Mitchell! A pleasure to read.

Note to parents - this is not the "cleaned up" version you've come across in kids' history books (the brief retelling in Bauer's Story of the World comes to mind), but the full frontal version chock full of sex and violence. Tastefully done, but it's all in there. May want to preview if buying this for a younger teen, just so you're ready for discussion time, LOL.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant reconstruction March 15 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Mitchell has reconstructed the ancient fragments of a wonderful myth, and has done so in modern, highly readable language. It is both poetry and compelling narrative. Helpful endnotes explain how the author made sense of the several scholarly attempts to revive an ancient tale from Babylonian and Sumerian clay tablets. Magnificent.
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4.0 out of 5 stars good March 6 2014
By md
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Ready to read, short story book, interesting in a way too. I breezed through very fast in a day or two I think.
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