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The Epic of Gilgamesh (Penguin Classics) Paperback – April 29, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0140449198 ISBN-10: 0140449191 Edition: Rev Ed

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Rev Ed edition (April 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140449191
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140449198
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Andrew George has skillfully bridged the chasm between a scholarly re-edition and a popular work”
London Review of Books

“Humankind’s first literary achievement...Gilgamesh should compel us as the well-spring of which we are inheritors...Andrew George provides an excellent critical and historical introduction.”
—Paul Binding, Independent on Sunday

“This volume will endure as one of the milestones markers...[George] expertly and easily conducts his readers on a delightful and moving epic journey.”
—Samuel A. Meier, Times Literary Supplement

“Appealingly presented and very readably translated...it still comes as an exhilarating surprise to find the actions and emotions of the Sumerian superhero coming to us with absolute immediacy over 30-odd centuries.

“Andrew George has formed an English text from the best of the tablets, differentiating his complex sources but allowing the general reader a clear run at one of the first enduring stories ever told.”
—Peter Stothard, The Times

“An exemplary combination of scholarship and lucidity...very impressive...invaluable as a convenient guide to all the different strands which came together to produce the work we now call Gilgamesh.”
—Alan Wall, Literary Review

Language Notes

Text: English (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

So on to... ...the historical introduction.
Il'ja Rákoš
The Noahic flood and Adam and Eve stories in Genesis were derived from even more ancient epics like Gilgamesh.
It was a very interesting and reassuring read.
Jim Altfeld

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

96 of 96 people found the following review helpful By Jordan M. Poss VINE VOICE on May 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
This was the first translation of Gilgamesh that ever really grabbed me. I had waded through plodding, tedious translations (mostly in prose) before, and been left feeling like Assyriologists must be the most bored people in the world.

George's translation, however, is in verse and adds vigor to what appeared to me, for years, to be a bland jumping off point for bigger and better epics of later eras. I flew through this translation, hanging on every word, and was almost sad to see it end.

The notes and critical bits were nice as well, and the numerous lacunae showed me just how little of the full story we really have. Heartbreaking, really, and it made appreciate those bored people I used to pity.

If you're new to The Epic of Gilgamesh and want an engaging, readable verse translation of it, this is the one to buy.

Highly recommended.
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111 of 113 people found the following review helpful By Ursiform TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 24, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I ordered the hardcover edition of this book from ... , and it is unfortunate that it is not readily available in the US. At least the softcover edition is now available, and worth acquiring for anyone interested in a glimpse of what life-and thought-was like nearly 4000 years ago. I was unaware, before reading this volume, that Gilgamesh, despite it's significance and popularity in its day, does not come down to us in any complete form. George provides both a background of the civilization that produced Gilgamesh and also a history of the various partial versions that have survived and been found. Throughout the text he is careful to explain where different versions disagree, where he has interpolated fragments from other versions to fill gaps, and where no known version exists. He appends translations of various fragments and of earlier Sumerian poems of "Bilgames". While lacking the completeness, and therefore coherence, of the Homeric epics, George's translation of Gilgamesh offers at least a peephole, if not truly a window, into a civilization very far removed from ours. Despite the distance the desires and fears-particularly the fear of death-expressed seem very human and recognizable. In fact, and in spite of, the archaic structure of the verse, Gilgamesh seems more human to me than many of the semi-divine heros of Homer. Certainly not light reading, but very much worth the time and effort.
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By John L Murphy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
I recommend this Penguin Classic, but it offers more thorough scholarly apparatus than usual for the series. This is not meant as a criticism! But, a beginner may find a "version" such as Stephen Mitchell's easier to start with for an overview of the storyline, and a briefer introduction and helpful endnotes. The poem itself is not lengthy, but the ancillary texts and sources, as Andrew George shows us, do take up considerable space which may please enthusiasts but discourage newcomers to this epic poem.

George prepared for Oxford UP in 1999 a two-volume edition, and this Penguin adapts the core of the English translation for a wider audience. It appears ideal for a college classroom or the reader wanting to learn more about the lacunae, the gaps, the language, and the editorial decisions made by George and fellow translators. A fascinating appendix shows how out of grammatical markers, syllabic, and half-syllabic cuneiform incisions the sounds and rhythms and absences that fill this most ancient of narratives turn into what we can understand. To a point.

Terms such as "louvre-door," "glacis-slope," "hie to the forge," and notably Ishtar's exhortation to "stroke my quim" give a rather archaic diction to parts of the translation. George aims obviously for precision in such terminology, but this does clash with the more demotic vernacular chosen by Mitchell in his popularization. Mitchell's also considerably more erotic and develops passages that in their original state, reading George, remain terse.
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Bailey on November 4, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Not having read scores of Gilgamesh translations, I really don't know how many stars to give this one, but I am very happy with it. In addition to giving a 'complete' version, mainly from Standard Babylonian texts from the Nineveh library but supplemented from other sources (even Hittite editions) for the sake of having a complete story, the book publishes in separate chapters, older, more fragmentary sources. Even Sumerian versions are covered. Also, in the beginning is an excellent treatment of the history of the rebirth of the Gilgamesh epic and the state of cuneiform translation and research in general. No speculation about the epic on literary or religious levels is given. George doesn't bother to tell us about the literary or historical relationship of Gilgamesh to the bible, nor does he try to use the epic to define for us Mesopotamian religion. He is simply interested in providing a good translation and is very thorough and scientific in cataloguing his sources and judgment calls, yet he hands us a lively and fluid English text.
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