Gilgamesh
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Gilgamesh

By (author) Stephen Mitchell

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Vivid, enjoyable and comprehensible, the poet and pre-eminent translator Stephen Mitchell makes the oldest epic poem in the world accessible for the first time. Gilgamesh is a born leader, but in an attempt to control his growing arrogance, the Gods create Enkidu, a wild man, his equal in strength and courage. Enkidu is trapped by a temple prostitute, civilised through sexual experience and brought to Gilgamesh. They become best friends and battle evil together. After Enkidu's death the distraught Gilgamesh sets out on a journey to find Utnapishtim, the survivor of the Great Flood, made immortal by the Gods to ask him the secret of life and death. "Gilgamesh" is the first and remains one of the most important works of world literature. Written in ancient Mesopotamia in the second millennium B.C., it predates the Iliad by roughly 1,000 years. "Gilgamesh" is extraordinarily modern in its emotional power but also provides an insight into the values of an ancient culture and civilisation.

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  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 122 x 196 x 22mm | 240g
  • 06 Oct 2005
  • Profile Books Ltd
  • London
  • English
  • 1861977980
  • 9781861977984
  • 233,928

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Author Information

Stephen Mitchell is widely known for his original and definitive versions of spiritual writings and poetry. His many books include The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, Tao Te Ching, The Gospel According to Jesus and Bhagavad Gita.

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Review quote

'As narrative verse, this Gilgamesh entrances and enthrals. Its liquid, intimate four-stressed lines negotiate the rapid shifts between everyday pleasures, heroic feats and blazing visions in this mythic world where the sensual and spiritual always intersect. Mitchell manages to slip the mesmerising incantations of the verse into his reader's bloodstream as if they flowed through some poetic intravenous drip.' Boyd Tonkin, Independent 'It was a revelation. The translation is superb.' Harold Pinter 'Stephen Mitchell's Gilgamesh is a wonderful version. It is as eloquent and nuanced as his translations of Rilke. This is certainly the best that I have seen in English.' Harold Bloom 'Reading Stephen Mitchell's marvellously clear and vivid rendering of Gilgamesh makes me feel that I am encountering this ancient poem for the first time.' Elaine Pagels 'This is the most pellucid version of the epic yet to have been written in English, but what is most startling and admirable about it is the fact that Mitchell has not sacrificed a sense of the weird on the altar of readability ... a powerful translation.' The Times 'Mitchell brings a lucid and poetic version of Gilgamesh to a literary rather than academic audience ... [he] allows the ancients a chance to speak for themselves.' Observer '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.' Malcolm Jones, Newsweek

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