Epic of Gilgamesh

A couple months back I talked to Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers and they were nice enough to give me a copy of a book they published if I reviewed it. I gladly accepted, and this book was no mistake to read.

The book is a translation of the "Epic of Gilgamesh", translated by Danny P. Jackson. There are a number of things about the book that I found appealing:

  1. Most of all, the translation was very well done. Not in the sense of accuracy, because I cannot judge that, but in the case of style. It was very readable and read more like ancient poetry than literal translation. Best feature.
  2. Short but informative introduction covering issues such as translation practice, historical background, and literary sources.
  3. Photographs of various archaeological bits like statues, carvings, tablets, etc.
  4. Also included were illustrations of various bits of the story. Not necessary, but a nice feature.

This is not an extensive critical edition of the work, but if you want to have a copy to peruse, this is a very good volume. The only thing I would have liked to see is it in hardcover. But who cares. Good volume. Good book. I recommend it for those interested in early literature.

Don’t know what it is? It is an ancient near eastern tale of a mighty man named Gilgamesh. It is mostly known for its connection/relationship to the biblical flood narrative. Though there are some serious differences between the flood stories in both works, there are a few clear parallels (the most striking I found to be the sending out of the birds after the rain stopped) between the two that make it obvious one was depending on the other, or at least both had a common source. I’ll leave it up to the reader how to handle that issue :)