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Gilgamesh: A New English Version
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"Beautifully retold and a page-turner in the bargain. Like Seamus Heaney's recent retelling of Beowulf, this book proves that in the right hands, no great story ever grows stale."
"A flowing, unbroken version that reads as effortlessly as a novel...with startlingly familiar hopes, fears, and lusts. Mitchell...cracks open the lessons in Gilgamesh by rebuilding its clay fragments into a poem easy on the eyes and the transcultural imagination....Vibrant, earnest, unfussily accessible.... The muscular eloquence and rousing simplicity of Mitchell's four-beat line effectively unleash the grand vehemence of the epic's battle scenes, and the characters' ominous visions emerge with uncanny clarity."
-- The New York Times Book Review
"Utterly enthralling reading, thanks to Mr. Mitchell's skill and flair in recasting the ancient text."
-- The New York Sun
"Seamus Heaney isn't the only one intent on making the classics relevant to our times. Mitchell...offers a limpid retelling of this story about absolute power.... Its message of love, loss, and endurance [is] rendered in fresh, forceful language."
-- Los Angeles Times
"The mysterious, sinewy surge of his verse [is] thoroughly modern, yet an uncanny evocation of the primeval."
-- The Boston Globe
About the Author
Stephen Mitchell is widely known for his ability to make old classics thrillingly new. His many books include the bestselling Tao Te Ching, the Iliad, Gilgamesh, The Gospel According to Jesus, The Book of Job, Bhagavad Gita, and The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. His website is StephenMitchellBooks.com.
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The first half of the book is Mitchell's take on the book, where he surmises what is going on and then expounds on the depths of the meaning behind it. It's an easy and straight forward explanation that took me maybe half of a solid day of reading.
Then there's the second half, which is the actual 'Epic of Gilgamesh' as it was translated. Also very straight forward, but without Mitchell's 'behind the scenes' explanation, it just reads like a one dimensional story.
SO, thank God Mitchell wrote the explanations how he did (easy to read, took all of a day to read the entire book, as about 1/3 of it is simple references) - because without Mitchell's explanations, to me (and I imagine a lot of other people) the depth of Gilgamesh would have been immediately lost.
I purchased this work for my Kindle, but in view of one of the reviewer's complaint that the eBook was displayed in prose rather than as it appears in print, I also opted to buy the printed book as well. Upon opening the hard copy, I was disappointed to find that the print throughout was in a fairly small and light font ... definitely not what I would have wished. So I turned to my Kindle edition: I experienced no problem at all in the "prose vs poetry" lines - The rhythm was obvious (and enjoyed by me) in spite of lack of line breaks. I'm so glad I did buy the eBook - Very enjoyable reading and with no eye strain.
Only one problem: I was surprised to find that I had reached the end so soon ... I had become so engrossed in the story that the time flew, and, though I wasn't reading for speed, it was one of the fastest reads I've had the pleasure to complete.
I have been wanting to read Gilgamesh for years. I got a copy in college, I couldn't make it through. I picked up another copy on some other occasion, I couldn't make it through. Barely got through the first few pages.
THIS one... I love it. Easy to read. Easy to follow the story. Plenty of notes in the back where he explains when and where and why he made the translation choices he did. Simply fantastic.
Can't say enough good things about this edition.. Well worth reading. It is actually a fun and exciting story once you get past all the scholarly stuff, which is to be expected. Gilgamesh wasn't written as literature, it was an adventure story, and Stephen Mitchell brings it back to it's very, very, very old roots.