Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
This was probably Not what most folks would think about this classic. This book is fraught with one-liners that are just hilarious. And to think that these one-liners came from a philosopher of the 1700’s makes it even more astonishing. A book that has remained essential reading for almost 400 years does not require a review by some amateur from our millennium nor could I do it justice. Suffice it to say that this book can be read by scholars who would find transcendental meanings of the times then and relevance for our times now. But, what makes a great book and what made it particularly appealing for me is that, while it can be completely dissected and analyzed, it can also be just thoroughly enjoyed at face value by anyone.
The performances by Jack Davenport were brilliant. Each character’s voice was distinct, seemingly appropriate and perfectly realized for the character performed. And there were plenty of “characters” alright. There was little of the “he said.... she said” monotony of some other books I have listened to. There were so many renditions by other narrators it was difficult to choose from among them. But again I think I lucked out. I cannot imagine any of the alternative narrators being better than Jack Davenport. Not that I think this book could not be appreciated in print. It certainly can. But Mr. Davenport just made it so much fun and really brought the book to life. I find myself smiling as I write this remembering just how much I laughed out loud.
Having been brought up on the classics, I’m not sure how I missed Gilgamesh. It was probably because my earliest education was of the Catholic variety and this would probably not be in most Catholic, let alone other Christian, stacks. So why read it now? Partially because it is so classic and I had not read it, but also, and perhaps mostly, it was a Stephen Mitchell translation. Mitchell can take the most arcane and make it understandable, the most seemingly simple and make it fresh and sophisticated for even the most intellectually-challenged among us.
The book is fraught with duality as is often a theme contained in other SM books. The book is about beauty and ugliness, strength and weakness, friends and enemies. The poetry of the narrative is quite beautiful and powerful in its own right but the essay of a critique that follows it is like icing on a cake: delicious. Great books can be read more than once and each time the reader will glean something entirely new or understand something at a deeper level. The essay adds a whole other dimension to the main piece that I certainly would not have appreciated had I not read it. And, given how short Gilgamesh is, it is certainly worth listening to again, this time with a whole new appreciation and understanding.