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Epic of Gilgamesh

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Have you got a favorite edition? And edition that you tried and absolutely hated? I'm thinking about reading this, as I'm studying Sumer right now, but I don't know which one to buy. I'm hoping the Hive Mind has some experience to share.

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We just read the Andrew George one. I sat down at the book store and compared the first few pages of each version they had. I happened to like this one the best. The others were not in verse form. I'm sure there are many other verse translations, but our bookstore didn't have them, so I couldn't compare. I liked our version. The gaps in the text where tablets are missing, are shown by ... so when we read it aloud, we would read And then Gilgamesh something with something and somethinged. It worked fine. It also told where the text had been filled in from another set of tablets or another sorce. It had a literal feel but it was also poetic, with a fair amount of alliteration and rhythm, which is what I wanted. There also was a nice lot of information in the introduction and a detailed explanation of how the translation was made. Be warned, though - I chose this version knowing that my youngest was pretty familiar with the plot line and background, and that I happen to be good at detangling unusual word order. I didn't have to worry about us understanding what was going on. I also know from past experience that my son has plenty of patience with epic poems (as long as we don't do it for more than an hour at a time). I wanted the focus to be on where the poem came from and how it was turned into English. Otherwise, I would have chosen one of the more story-like versions, probably the shortest one. There might also be better versions out there for my purpose than the one I chose, but I wanted to be able to see what I was choosing in person. I needed three copies, so the library wasn't an option. For my oldest, I chose the version that our library had on audio tape. The important thing in his case was that it be audio. Is there any way you can look at several version and pick the one you think will work best? "Best" is different things to different people.


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Agreeing with Nan. Also, it is good to know that there is NO ONE ancient source that contains the entire Gilgamesh epic; it has been patched together more modern times using the various sources discovered at different sites from different time periods. So there is no one definite "version" of Gilgamesh surviving from ancient times. Here's a link to some interesting background on Gilgamesh: http://bruceowen.com/foundworld/h201-09s-14-GilgameshHamurrabiWestcar.pdf


We did Gilgamesh with 8th and 9th grade DSs, and since we planned to do full translations of The Iliad, The Odyssey, The Oedipus cycle, and a fair number of Greek myths, we only wanted a shorter "story" version of Gilgamesh. Also, with the boys being younger, I just didn't feel we needed to deal with the explicit sexuality of the temple prositute teaching Endiku "the ways of love."


We went with an abridged retelling by Jennifer Westwood (Gilgamesh and Other Babylonian Tales). It is out of print but VERY worthwhile. It was very readable, not very long, and was a great beginning to our introduction to doing The Great Books with late middle school/early high school students. This version also contained several Babylonian myths, including the Babylonian flood story, which we were then able to use in doing a very nice compare / contrast paper with the Biblical flood story.


Below are links to past threads on choosing translations for not only Gilgamesh but other classics as well. Hope that helps! Warmest regards, Lori D.



Which translations should I get?



Odyssey, Iliad and Gilgamesh translations



Choosing translations for classics?



Need help choosing translations


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Have you got a favorite edition? And edition that you tried and absolutely hated? I'm thinking about reading this, as I'm studying Sumer right now, but I don't know which one to buy. I'm hoping the Hive Mind has some experience to share.


Doesn't the Well-Educated Mind have samples of different translations? I've just been reading this, & I seem to remember comparisons (in the poetry section).



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I read and liked the Stephen Mitchell "new english version".


The Boston Globe says "The mysterious, sinewy surge of his verse [is] thoroughly modern, yet and uncanny evocation of the primeval." It's a beautiful read!


This is my favorite version, too. I found it at the library and liked it so much, I ordered a copy for our home library.

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