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Showing 1-10 of 217 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 310 reviews
on April 5, 2015
I think which version of this you want depends on why you are reading it.

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.
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on April 14, 2014
The Epic of Gilgamesh is an expertly written scholarly account of the Babylonian classic. Andrew George uses his skills as a translator to give us the story of the hero king Gilgamesh of Uruk as he battles in the ancient world against man, beast and god in his struggle to achieve immortality. George has actually done most of the translations himself.

Based on the earliest Summerian cuneiform tablets written 1700-1800 BCE, the epic has survived as clay fragments pieced together and preserved from the ruins of past civilizations. Not a single complete copy of the work exists, however, enough fragments from the various dig sites in Iraq and elsewhere have provided us with 11 tablets of varying length composing some 3000 lines of verse, though it is still not entirely represented. The ancients wrote in two languages, Akkadian and Sumerian. A copy was found in the ruins at Megiddo signifying that the hebrews had access to the ancient story.

In the story, the great "Flood Myth" is aluded to. The Flood is strangely similar to the "Flood Myth" presented in Genesis, though it was composed at a time many centuries before the OT was written. Various versions of Gilgamesh have survived from different localities and ages using different names for the gods and other characters, however, the story remains bacically unchanged from 1800 BCE till the last copies were made c. 100 BCE.

In the story the Anunnaki Gods created humanity to service them but they then sought to destroy the humans because they had become a bother. They tried different means to reduce the population, but then arrived at the "Flood" solution. The character Uta-napishti is likened to Noah. He builds an 'ark', loads it with animals, his family and all his worldly wealth. As a reward for his survival, the God Enlil who created the flood, rewards him with imortality. And thus Gilgamesh seeks out Uta-napishti to learn the secret of eternal life.

Overall, I thought the work was a great translation of the tale as well as a good source of knowledge of the ancient world as well as the archaeology of the tablets themselves. I enjoyed reading the book.
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on July 2, 2014
This may be a careful and attentive translation, but it's dutiful apparatus keeps interrupting and distracting the reader.Instead of silently incorporating a parallel version to cover a gap in the main text, the translator announces it and breaks the flow. Too many ellipses, too many bracketed passages, and the intrusive chapter summaries are unnecessary (and would tempt the lazy student to merely read the summaries and not the translation).
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on August 23, 2015
I've read two Penguin Classics of The Epic of Gilgamesh: N. K. Sandars prose version, and Andrew George's verse translation (this one).

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.
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on July 21, 2017
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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on November 4, 2013
"Utnapishtim said, `There is no permanence. Do we build a house to stand for ever, do we seal a contract to hold for all time? Do brothers divide an inheritance to keep for ever, does the flood-time of rivers endure? It is only the nymph of the dragon-fly who sheds her larva and sees the sun in his glory. From the days of old there is no permanence. The sleeping and the dead, how alike they are, they are like a painted death. What is there between the master and the servant when both have fulfilled their doom? When the Anunnaki, the judges, come together, and Mammetun the mother of destinies, together they decree the fates of men. Life and death they allot but the day of death they do not disclose.'"

PROs:

* Very good story

* Interesting characters

* A classic that stands up to the test of time

* Exciting page turner

CONs:

* A good bit of it is sadly missing (tablets haven't been found)

"`O Shamash, hear me, hear me, Shamash, let my voice be heard. Here in the city man dies oppressed at heart, man perishes with despair in his heart. I have looked over the wall and I see the bodies floating on the river, and that will be my lot also. Indeed I know it is so, for whoever is tallest among men cannot reach the heavens, and the greatest cannot encompass the earth."

The Epic of Gilgamesh is the oldest work of literature ever discovered, written by a(n?) unknown and forgotten genius(es?). It is simply remarkable how modern the book seems. It is your classic adventure story, with many books throughout history sampling similar themes, such as the meaning of life, loss, and coping with mortality.

The Epic follows King Gilgamesh of Uruk, a near perfect man, who is actually 2\3 god. He is so good at everything that it actually makes the population uneasy, and they cry out to the gods for them to humble him. The gods respond by making him a competitor out of clay (sound familiar?), Enkidu. Enkidu and Gilgamesh begin as rivals, but end as best friends. Unfortunately, Enkidu is stricken down by a jealous god (sound familiar?), and Gilgamesh must learn to cope with the reality of death. It is important to note that there is no fantasy of an afterlife provided here. Gilgamesh does not find comfort in illusions; he understands that he will never see Enkidu again. It turns out that Gilgamesh isn't able to cope with his own mortality, and instead begins on a quest for eternal life.

On this quest, we learn of the nature of the gods, the creation of the universe, and a global flood that wiped out nearly all life (still sound familiar?). As you can see, many later religious traditions copied copiously from this original title, which actually makes it an even more interesting read. Unfortunately the story is not complete; many of the ancient cuneiform tablets from Sumeria have never been found, and they probably never will be. The book is complete enough to have a very interesting and coherent story, nonetheless.

As a side, if you want a cool pop culture reference to the Epic, check out Star Trek: The Next Generation season 5 episode 2, Darmok. Captain Picard and crew meet an alien race that communicates solely based on cultural traditions, and Picard decides to tell a tale from our own human culture. Guess which story he chooses...

"She answered, `Gilgamesh, where are you hurrying to? You will never find that life for which you are looking. When the gods created man they allotted to him death, but life they retained in their own keeping. As for you, Gilgamesh, fill your belly with good things; day and night, night and day, dance and be merry, feast and rejoice. Let your clothes be fresh, bathe yourself in water, cherish the little child that holds your hand, and make your wife happy in your embrace; for this too is the lot of man.'"
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on September 18, 2013
This is the first work of ancient literature I have ever attempted to read of my own free will. It was a good choice. The translation was very easy to read and flowed nicely. I would not be the one to comment further on the quality of the translation, though and won't be reading multiple versions of Gilgamesh to make comparisons. Coming from a novice reader of ancient works though, this seemed to be the right speed. The story is simple and direct with clear lessons, and though I may get slammed by other reviewers for saying this, it read a lot like the Bible. Perhaps the most interesting part of the book to me was the story of the flood, which is almost identical to the story of Noah and the Ark in Genesis. It has certainly opened my mind to how these stories, though time, have translated through different cultures, and how people have made them their own.

Perhaps my favorite thing about this book is it has opened me up to reading more of these ancient stories, like the Iliad.
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on July 8, 2016
I have recently bought and read some five or six translations with introductions of Gilgamesh, and for a one volume edition, this is my favorite. Andrew George is clearly the major scholar for Gilgamesh today, and while this is not his 2 volume scholarly set with the actual renditions of all the scrolls, his great knowledge of the background shows both in the introductory and appended materials, and in the carefully arranged translation, showing exactly when he is presenting the "Standard Version" and when he is presenting older or alternate versions. There are a couple of translations I personally prefer for various reasons, but with this one I feel 'safely' close to the text, and value it more for my own learning.
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on June 12, 2017
I would recommend this to anyone who is studying history or anthropology or philosophy. The extra content is a huge bonus and definitely would read again! The reason I bought this was because it was required for my History 101 course.
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on May 22, 2012
This is the second version of Gilgamesh I've read and I love this ancient story. I followed up the Mitchell version of Gilgamesh with Andrew George's actual translation. From reading this, its pretty obvious that Mitchell took quite a few liberties with the text. Overall I prefer this edition, it has a great 50+ page introduction to Gilgamesh and Sumerian religion, its more faithful to the text (although with many segments missing) and this contains several translations from variant tables, some interesting older Gilgamesh poems and a small introductory section on translation the tablets.
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