- Series: Penguin Classics
- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Classics; 31732nd edition (April 29, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780140449198
- ISBN-13: 978-0140449198
- ASIN: 0140449191
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 336 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Epic of Gilgamesh (Penguin Classics) Paperback – April 29, 2003
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“It’s among the oldest surviving works of Western civilization, from before literature was literature. It’s my go-to whenever loss and life have tumbled me (often). Amazingly, and perhaps depressingly (When will they ever learn?), Gilgamesh tackles all the issues we are dealing with today: a bad leader and how he becomes an enlightened one (here’s hoping), environmental degradation, class and race — i.e. who gets to be called human — lust and love; loss and death. The language is haunting, incantatory, at the border of song and silence.”
"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
About the Author
Andrew George is Professor of Babylonian at SOAS (the School of Oriental and African Studies) in London. His research has taken him many times to Iraq to visit Babylon and other ancient sites, and to museums in Baghdad, Europe and North America to read the original clay tablets on which the scribes of ancient Iraq wrote.
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If you are a scholar, this might be your version. I assume it's close to the original. But the original is fragmented, and unclear, so if you just want to appreciate the story, this is NOT the edition you want.
Here's the opening paragraph:
"He who saw the deep, the country's foundation
[who] knew ... , was wise in all matters."
If you want to just read it, [who] and missing words "..." are just an annoyance. And it goes on like this.
If you are researching, the faithful representation may be a plus, if you just wanted to get familiar with the story, as I did, you'll want a different edition.
This edition of the Epic of Gilgamesh contains multiple translations of the story, each based upon the various tablets that have been uncovered. The author gives their input on the story as you read, as well as any relevant background information, to aid you in understanding each tablet.
This book was fantastic and I highly recommend it to history nerds, epic fans, and anyone who appreciates a good story.
I felt like I understood Geroge's version much better than the prose version. The intro of the text is divided in 3 parts. I found the last two parts ("The setting of the epic," and "The epic in its context: myth, religion and wisdom") particularly gripping. I did not like the first part, "Gilgamesh and Ancient Mesopotamian Literature," because it was largely a history of how the tablets were discovered. Onto the epic: although having missing text was disappointing at times, I learned to accept it as something that can't be helped and instead enjoyed what was available. The way the text is written out with brackets, ellipsis, and so forth lets you see what is available in the Gilgamesh tablets. I liked this because I was able to compare it alongside the prose version and see what was likely added on by N. K. Sandars. The parts that did coincide with both of the texts was highly moving even though sometimes it was simplistic. But I guess that is what makes Gilgamesh a classic: its ability to take universal themes and deal with them in an understandable manner. Overall, this thrilled me.
Perhaps my favorite thing about this book is it has opened me up to reading more of these ancient stories, like the Iliad.