Gilgamesh

( 8 )

Overview

The story of Gilgamesh, an ancient epic poem written on clay tablets in a cuneiform alphabet, is as fascinating and moving as it is crucial to our ability to fathom the time and the place in which it was written. Gardner's version restores the poetry of the text and the lyricism that is lost in the earlier, almost scientific renderings. The principal theme of the poem is a familiar one: man's persistent and hopeless quest for immortality. It tells of the heroic exploits of an ancient ruler of the walled city of ...

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Overview

The story of Gilgamesh, an ancient epic poem written on clay tablets in a cuneiform alphabet, is as fascinating and moving as it is crucial to our ability to fathom the time and the place in which it was written. Gardner's version restores the poetry of the text and the lyricism that is lost in the earlier, almost scientific renderings. The principal theme of the poem is a familiar one: man's persistent and hopeless quest for immortality. It tells of the heroic exploits of an ancient ruler of the walled city of Uruk named Gilgamesh. Included in its story is an account of the Flood that predates the Biblical version by centuries. Gilgamesh and his companion, a wild man of the woods named Enkidu, fight monsters and demonic powers in search of honor and lasting fame. When Enkidu is put to death by the vengeful goddess Ishtar, Gilgamesh travels to the underworld to find an answer to his grief and confront the question of mortality.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[Gilgamesh] has never been better served than in this new translation...Maier's contribution is the meticulous scholarship that envelopes the book...John Gardner's contribution...is the translation itself: lyrical, sinewy, emotionally uncompromising and rhythmically brilliant."

— William L. Moran, The New York Times Book Review

"The authors brilliantly achieve the goal of infusing the poem with new life and meaning for the modern reader"

— Ronald Bailey, Newsday

"A moving and exceptionally readable version of the poem."

— Aaron Shurin, The San Francisco Chronicle

William L. Moran
The appearance therefore of Gardner's translation - it is his, as the introduction makes clear - is an exciting event, and it raises our hopes that someone has at last caught in English something of the ancient art. Gardner was not a poet, but he was an artist with words....The language here is simple and direct, at times approaching the freshness of the original. When Gardner is right - that is, accurate - he is almost always very right. Unlike the scholar's version, his has the right tone and the right word in the right place....Occasionally the language is uncharacteristically affected....But what flaws Gardner's achievement, and flaws it seriously, are the startling inconsistencies of his translations and the many translations that are simply wrong, at times accompanied by an inept commentary....In brief, I regret to say that this translation, though it is often excellent, must be used with caution. It is quite uneven. But it is also encouraging, clear evidence of what might be achieved by the close cooperation of the artist and the scholar. -- New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780394740898
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/28/1985
  • Series: Vintage Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 584,439
  • Product dimensions: 5.13 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2013

    It was very good

    While it was an exemplary novel, it should not be read by children with insufficient vocabulary or insufficient reading skills. I reccomend this book to scholars and people with a large intellect only. For the record I am thirteen, and I am the only one at my school, including teachers, who could read the entire novel in a single week and understand it. I still had some trouble with comprehension, however

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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