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Inanna: From the Myths of Ancient Sumer [Hardcover]

Kim Echlin , Linda Wolfsgruber
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Sept. 1 2003


Long before the Bible and the Koran, before the myths of the Greeks and Romans were set down, the people of Sumer (who lived in what is now Iraq) recorded the stories of their gods and kings on cuneiform tablets. The world's oldest epic poem is the Epic of Gilgamesh, the tale of a hero who was part god, part man.

But just in the past century a thrilling discovery was made -- the 4,000-year-old stories of his powerful sister, the goddess Inanna. Inanna is a goddess who embodies the quest for growth. Her stories tell how she develops from childish inexperience and youthful exuberance into maturity and gains the powers to create, to destroy and to name. The people of Sumer associated Inanna with the planet Venus -- radiant, changeable and mysterious.

With the guidance of Sumerian scholars, Kim Echlin has provided a moving, sensitive and knowledgeable translation of the Inanna myths. They describe an ancient goddess who was at once a great warrior, lover, nurturer, seeker of knowledge and giver of power -- a figure worthy of admiration by people of any age.

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About the Author

Kim Echlin has been a documentary-maker, editor and teacher. Her adaptation of the Inanna stories is the result of looking for an ideal myth to tell to her own daughters. Echlin was drawn to this goddess from ancient Sumer because of her strength and sense of adventure, her daring and her final wisdom. Kim Echlin's publications include Inanna (Groundwood Books), Dagmar's Daughter (Viking), Elephant Winter (Viking) and The Disappeared (Penguin). She has been awarded the Torgi Award, and was nominated for the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award, the National Magazine Award and the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Linda Wolfsgruber is a world-renowned artist who has exhibited her work throughout Europe and in the United States and Japan. She has won many awards, including the Austrian Children's and Juvenile Book Award for Illustration (four times) and the Golden Apple of the Biennial of Illustration Bratislava, and she has been nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. Her striking illustrations appear in many books, including Inanna: From the Myths of Ancient Sumer, Stories from the Life of Jesus, Brunhilda and the Ring and A daisy is a daisy is a daisy. She lives in Vienna.

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IN the first days and nights and years everything was brought into being. Read the first page
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent re-telling of an ancient story May 2 2013
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This is a lovely retelling of this ancient story in more modern verse. It appears to have been well researched and is beautifully presented. The illustrations are in keeping of both the style and language of the telling. I highly recommended it.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and accessible April 4 2009
By Ashley Grisso - Published on Amazon.com
Echlin's translation, Inanna: From the Myths of Ancient Sumer, is a gorgeous little book. I bought it because I was looking for a rendition of the Inanna myth suitable for middle-school-aged girls. Despite what other Amazon reviewers' wrote, I thought Echlin's translation would embrace healthy female sexuality and serve as an unusually positive influence for girls coming of age. Though I now believe most parents will find Echlin's account too sexually explicit for a pre-teen audience, older girls and women will likely appreciate the accessible language and lovely illustrations, which present a fierce female character who enjoys the pleasures of sex within the context of marriage.

For those unaware, according to most accounts in Greek mythology, a parallel heroine, Persephone, an innocent girl, was sucked into the underground by being raped. While down below, Persephone grew and matured by enduring hardships and trials, and returned to be in the world for half the year as a more enlightened person. More recently, some storytellers say that Persephone stumbled into hell while picking flowers, which serves as a "cleaned up" version suitable for children.

In contrast, the Sumerian Goddess Inanna chose to explore the darkness below in order expand her consciousness. Inanna was a young married deity who discovered guidance and uncovered wisdom during and after her intentional descent to the underworld. As an ancient goddess, Inanna embodied traits we admire today. She was emboldened to make choices about her destiny, explored and appreciated her sexuality, wisely used her intelligence for good, and willingly undertook adventures and self-discovery. She suffered, as all do, but was not a victim (in Persephone's case, a victim of an uncaring, or some would say cruel, father). Therefore, most contemporary women in the West can more readily identify with Inanna and/or see her as a symbol of positive female strength and empowerment.

I highly recommend Echlin's and Wolfsgruber's work for readers familiar with Sumer's Inanna, and for those who enjoy myths but don't yet know of Inanna's grace. Echlin effectively streamlines language from another time for today's reader without losing the myth's integrity. Wolfsgruber's illustrations corroborate Inanna's journey in fresh, vibrant picture-form, which gives us a glimpse of Ancient Sumer. Really splendid!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good guide May 12 2012
By Julie P. Ieronymides - Published on Amazon.com
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I bought every book I could find on Inanna and this was one of the better ones. Well written and well researched
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Introduction to Inanna Jan. 10 2014
By Horace Brickley - Published on Amazon.com
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This book, geared towards young adults and children, is a great introduction to the compelling figure of Inanna. I would recommend reading this and then picking up Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer's "Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth."
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book on describing the myth of Inanna… July 27 2014
By helen - Published on Amazon.com
Great book on describing the myth of Inanna….in a symbolic and well researched way. Great for younger readers as well and empowering for young girl readers.
10 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings July 2 2008
By I. Mansour - Published on Amazon.com
I come from the land where these stories originated! but I have mixed feelings about the book. The illustrations are great! really took me back to the time when I wandered among old runes with ancient walls and drawings similar to these illustrations, though the coloring is different.
The story is about a goddess in old Sumer. Though I believe in one true God that made life and everything seen and unseen and don't believe in these ancient gods, i enjoyed the drawings. I found the story not very different from other love stories in ancient myths.

My reason to give it 4 stars is:
In some passages the book is written in an explicit language on the subject of sexuality, according to the ancient style of writing on this subject in Sumer and other old civilizations in Mesopotamia. So not suited for children to read from in my opinion! most of Mesopotamia ancient stories like Gilgamesh, have sexually explicit language.
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