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eBook The Epic of Gilgamesh (Norton Critical Editions) ePub

eBook The Epic of Gilgamesh (Norton Critical Editions) ePub

by Benjamin R. Foster

  • ISBN: 0393975169
  • Category: History and Criticism
  • Subcategory: Literature
  • Author: Benjamin R. Foster
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (April 23, 2001)
  • Pages: 256
  • ePub book: 1977 kb
  • Fb2 book: 1638 kb
  • Other: lrf lrf lit doc
  • Rating: 4.9
  • Votes: 784


The Epic of Gilgamesh is the world’s oldest epic masterpiece.

More than a thousand years before Homer or the Bible, Mesopotamian poets sang of the hero-king Gilgamesh, who sought to crown his superhuman exploits by finding eternal life.  This Norton Critical Edition presents translations by Benjamin R. Foster, Douglas Frayne, and Gary Beckman of the entire Gilgamesh narrative tradition, with some texts now in English for the first time.  In addition to the eleven tablets of the great Akkadian epic, written around 1700 B.C.E., the book includes seven Sumerian poems about Gilgamesh, written before 2000 B.C.E., as well as the later Hittite version and other related sources, among them a Babylonian parody of the epic. "Criticism" provides interpretive essays by William Moran, Thorkild Jacobsen, and Rivkah Harris and concludes with a modern poetic response to the Gilgamesh epic by Hillary Major. A Glossary of Proper Names and a Selected Bibliography are also included.


Zeus Wooden Zeus Wooden
Ordinarily the Norton Critical edition would be my favorite edition of a work, given all the additional materials offered, and this one is a fine entry in the series, worth five stars. I happen to prefer for scholarly purposes the Andrew George single volume edition, George being the scholar with the fine two volume critical edition of the text. But this one is quite fine and very helpful, and at a number of points I prefer the translation (to the degree I can make an informed judgement--based largely on the two texts mentioned).
Armin Armin
Translating the epic of Gilgamesh is even more difficult than other examples of ancient literature, simply because we do not have a complete version of the story. That said, this translation does a great job of presenting a coherent narrative, by blending together the most complete versions that do exist. The reader is aware of what episodes are missing from what versions, but overall the emphasis is on readability, and it pays off. I found myself getting caught up in the 4000-year-old tale, which still has the ability to move and excite even now.

The additional tales of Gilgamesh and the scholarship and criticism presented in this edition were also helpful in gaining perspective and context.
I_LOVE_228 I_LOVE_228
The Norton Critical Edition of "The Epic of Gilgamesh" is a fairly recent translation of what is currently the oldest known epic. The epic was translated by Benjamin R. Foster. The book also includes "The Sumerian Gilgamesh Poems", translated by Douglas Frayne, and "The Hittite Gilgamesh", translated by Gary Beckman. In addition, there is "The Gilgamesh Letter", several essays discussing the epic, and an Introduction section which helps those who are new to the Epic with their first reading. The translation uses the "standard version" associated with Sin-leqe-unninni as its base, and supplements it with parts from other versions where there are gaps. There are also comments in the text to help the reader follow the passages easier.

An area of weakness of this book was in the area of editorial comments. For example, Mr. Foster states in the introduction:

"There is no evidence that The Epic of Gilgamesh began as an oral narrative performed by bards or reciters and coalesced into a written text only later. In fact, the poem as we now have it shows many signs of having been a formal, written, literary work composed and perhaps performed for well-educated people, especially scholars and members of a royal court."

This is in sharp contrast with other opinions which I have read regarding the origins of the Epic. While it may be that there is no conclusive proof one way or another, there clearly is some evidence to support the theory that it did begin as an oral narrative, just as there is evidence that it may not have. If Mr. Foster completely disregards the evidence on the other side of the argument, then one is left to wonder if there are other "facts" provided by the editor that are equally suspect. When comparing this translation to those by Alexander Heidel and Stephanie Dalley, one can see significant differences at the start of the epic where the other editors use as evidence which suggests that this was an oral narrative originally. Mr. Foster's translation though is worded in a way that does not suggest an oral origin.

On the whole, this was a very readable translation of the Epic. The supplementary material included is also very good. While I may disagree with some of the editor's opinions about the history of the work and the way he presents the evidence, this is still a good choice to read.
Marilace Marilace
The Epic of Gilgamesh is a difficult text, both to translate and to read. I'm not a fan of translating Shamat (the woman who seduces & helps civilize Enkidu) as a "harlot." It's better than "prostitute" or "temple prostitute," but I think it has a very particular (negative) connotation in modern English that it probably didn't carry in Sumerian, Akkadian, and Bablylonian civilizations. On the other hand, Foster is the one who "knows" the language, not me. The ancillary material that Norton Critical editions contain, however, is the real problem with this edition. I very much enjoyed the inclusion of individual texts and stories from earlier epochs (i.e., Sumerian texts before the epic was "compiled"). And there is a useful discussion about the various "stages" of the text we read today (actually a first millennium BCE compilation - some 2000 years later than the first stories about Gilgamesh!). But the essays require more guidance, especially since many of them directly contradict Foster's introduction/translation, and unlike (e.g.) reading Shakespeare, only a handful of people in the WORLD can justly be referred to as experts on this material. So there needs to be some discussion of the included texts BY Foster (or another modern scholar) in order to give us wee non-experts some sort of ground to stand on.
Mallador Mallador
Received the book in a timely fashion and as advertised.
crazy mashine crazy mashine
This is a great version of the timeless tale. The author has included brief summaries prior to each section so you will stay on track with what is happening. Also included are descriptions about how to interpret the story. This tale was written in a time very different than ours, the references and jokes do not make sense in modern time. This edition enlightens the reader about the time period so the story is in perspective and better understood.
Hudora Hudora
A very good piece of ancient literature. I found it very interesting that it was similar to the Bible in a lot of ways.