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Full description for Reading Sumerian Poetry

  • An authority on ancient Mesopotamian culture, Jeremy Black here provides an introduction to the world's oldest poetry. Sumer, in southern Iraq, was the first literate civilization, with writing dating back as far as 3100 B.C. Its extensive poetic literature was lost for nearly two millennia; rediscovery and decipherment of the ancient writings began in the nineteenth century. Black is fully aware of the difficulties of applying modern literary methods to the study of ancient literature, emphasizing theoretical problems that arise from contemporary expectations of a unitary text. Looking closely at the imagery in the Lugalbanda poems, Black perceives in them a rich and sophisticated poetic imagination and technique, which, far from being in any sense "primitive, " are so complex as to resist modern literary analysis.