on October 30, 2000
I was interested in this book as I had heard a lot about the influence of Mesopotamian literature on the Ancient Greek and Egyptian civilisations as well as some parts of the bible.
First the good points. Heidel wrote this book in order to appeal to a wide audience rather than just students of Akkadian, so there is no cuneiform or transcripted Akkadian, just the English translation. He introduces us to the background and then takes us through the Epic of Gilgamesh. Further chapters very carefully contrast parts of the Gilgamesh and other Mesopotamian literature to the stories of the bible. Heidel concentrates on the view of death and the afterlife and the Mesopotamiam Flood stories versus Noah. I found it very interesting if somewhat heavy going at times as I'm not a student in this field, and just familiarising myself with this type of literature. Luckily, Heidel was extremely careful to present a well annotated and referenced book so that readers can check up on each detail for themselves.
However, there is one problem: the whole look of this book is off-putting. Written in double-spaced, small Arial font, it looks like a research paper that has inexplicably been wrapped in a glossy cover. It's not easy on the eye at all and I found the presentation quite distracting. Also, compared to some of the more recent translations, (eg Stephanie Dalley)this particular translation of the Epic of Gilgamesh is not very reader friendly as the English is very old fashioned.
Overall I would say that the content will appeal to a wide range of readers, but the overall look of the book could do with a bit of an overhaul.
on June 5, 2001
I read Gilgamesh after I read the Iliad and they Oddyssey, and now i see where Homer got most of his ideas. I sat down with the notion that Gilgamesh would be a hard read; that it would take me forever to finish. However, it turns out that the actual epic is only a 100 pages, and version i got was filled with other poems that corresponded with the epic.
I thought that this was a wonderful story, and a worthwhile read if you've ever read anything by Homer or even the Bible, because this is the root of it all. The story is sad, erotic and wonderful all at the same time, and i highly recommend it for any age reader.