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Gilgamesh: A New English Version | [Stephen Mitchell]

Gilgamesh: A New English Version

This brilliant new treatment of the world's oldest epic is a literary event on par with Seamus Heaney's wildly popular Beowulf translation. Esteemed translator and best-selling author Stephen Mitchell energizes a heroic tale so old it predates Homer's Iliad by more than a millennium.

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Publisher's Summary

This brilliant new treatment of the world's oldest epic is a literary event on par with Seamus Heaney's wildly popular Beowulf translation. Esteemed translator and best-selling author Stephen Mitchell energizes a heroic tale so old it predates Homer's Iliad by more than a millennium.

In the ancient city of Uruk, the tyrannical King Gilgamesh tramples citizens "like a wild bull". The gods send an untamed man named Enkidu to control the ruthless king, but after fighting, Enkidu and Gilgamesh become great friends and embark on a series of adventures. They kill fearsome creatures before Enkidu succumbs to disease, leaving Gilgamesh despondent and alone. Eventually, Gilgamesh moves forward, and his quest becomes a soul-searching journey of self-discovery.

Mitchell's treatment of this extraordinary work is the finest yet, surpassing previous versions in its preservation of the wisdom and beauty of the original.

©2004 Stephen Mitchell; (P)2004 Recorded Books LLC

What the Critics Say

"Stephen Mitchell's Gilgamesh is a wonderful version....This is certainly the best that I have seen in English." (Harold Bloom)
"Here is a flowing, unbroken version that reads as effortlessly as a novel....Vibrant, earnest, unfussibly accesible....The muscular eloquence and rousing simplicity of Mitchell's four-beat line effectively unleashes the grand vehemence of the epic's battle scenes." (The New York Times Book Review)
"Mitchell seeks language that is as swift and strong as the story itself. He conveys the evenhanded generosity of the original poet....This wonderful new version of the story of Gilgamesh shows how the story came to achieve literary immortality: not because it is a rare ancient artifact, but because reading it can make people in the here and now feel more completely alive." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (1103 )
5 star
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4.3 (715 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Robert Atlanta 01-09-06
    Robert Atlanta 01-09-06 Member Since 2014

    Robert

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fun and Enlightening"

    An unknown poet writes the world's oldest known epic poem. (2 hours for story; 2 hours for interpretation and explanation by the editor.) Superbly narrated by George Guidall in what is undoubtedly the way most received the story in its time. Uniquely and appropriately audio. The narrative pace translates beautifully to an easy to listen to story(publisher's notes say that earlier translations are stiff and academic). Fun and Enlightening -- not to worry if poetry puts you off -- this story flows beautifully. The interpretations and explanations of editor are worthwhile. I question his easy-to-ignore comparisons to very current events that can only be judged appropriately in the lens of history and his speculations on a homoerotic relationship between the two main characters. Very worthwhile.

    15 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lawrence 04-11-05
    Lawrence 04-11-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great strong translation"

    Here is a daring translation of Gilgamesh that is easy to listen to, although strong in language and flavor. It makes you feel like you are getting close to experiencing one of the seminal myth/legends in vivo, that all cultures and peoples have deep in their psyches.

    Also, there is a long commentary that follows the translation that is valuable in emphasising the intrepretive role of this translator and giving the listener/reader a way to evaluate his/her own reaction and perhaps judge any possbile bias in this translation.

    All in all, very pleasurable and valuable.

    13 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    George San Diego, US, Canada 09-01-14
    George San Diego, US, Canada 09-01-14
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    "What a gem!"
    Where does Gilgamesh rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This story is one of the most poignant stories in all of human history.


    What did you like best about this story?

    How do we deal with the death of loved ones? If you ever experienced a tragedy of losing your soulmate you will see yourself in Gilgamesh and his anguished cries after losing Enkidu.


    Which character – as performed by George Guidall – was your favorite?

    I did not care much about George Guidall's performance in Longmire mysteries but I absolutely loved his performance in Gilgamesh! His mature voice, experience and expert pacing was beautifully measured and expressive. The way he portrayed the characters in the epic was priceless.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The beginning of the story is absolutely magical and draws you in as if in a dream.


    Any additional comments?

    What an epic story!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patty PORT ST LUCIE, FL, United States 11-21-10
    Patty PORT ST LUCIE, FL, United States 11-21-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Beautiful story"

    I am not a great reader of the old stories, I am not a critic, but I know what stories I like and this is one of them. It is a great story of friendship and the acceptance of what life has prepared for you. I will listen to this story telling again and again.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 02-25-12
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 02-25-12 Member Since 2015

    I will listen to NO boring book. Old Fav's,Card, King , Hobb. New Fav's, Hill, Scalzi, Sawyer, Interested in Lansdale, Crouch, Konrath

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Got to read the oldest story ever"

    Dude, this is the oldest story every. The first, how can you not read it. The actual story is only about two hours long and stars an anti-hero, is full of sex and violence and the search for the meaning of life.

    The whole recording is four hours, because S.M. goes through the story almost line by line and explains it. I enjoyed the story and the detailed breakdown. I am not the sharpest tool in the shed, so I like hearing what the smart people think.

    As a former member of Recorded Books, I am very familiar with the voice of George Guidall. He is one of the best narrators around and is excellent for this recording.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roxanne Marrero, LA, USA 05-27-09
    Roxanne Marrero, LA, USA 05-27-09 Member Since 2010
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    "Great"

    I enjoyed this version of this story very much. The narrator is excellent.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. shah durant, Ok 09-24-09
    A. shah durant, Ok 09-24-09 Member Since 2007

    shah

    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
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    "a great story"

    One of the best audio books. I enjoyed essay written on the topic by the writer.

    A great book to read, must say that the essay written is a great philosophical narration.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jordan Long Beach, NY, USA 10-07-09
    Jordan Long Beach, NY, USA 10-07-09 Member Since 2014
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    "Fantastic"

    An amazingly riveting translation with superb narration.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. J. Gawley 06-07-05 Member Since 2013
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    "Excellent -- except author's pedantic essay at end"

    This work is a wonderful rendering of the ancient epic tale of Gilgamesh. It is surprisingly rousing and touching. It truly is a timeless tale. The author does a masterful job of bringing the epic back to its rousing roots. The essay at the end, however, is extremely annoying. The author tries to convert the reader to his gnostic view of reality -- but in the typical post-modern sense of denying good and evil, extolling vice (in the guise of "sexual liberty"), making idiotic comparisons of the tale's moral to the current Persian Gulf war (and other similarly inane pop-political comparisons) and trying to convince the reader of the latent homosexuality of the tale's central characters (as if men cannot be deep friends without wanting to sodomize one another). The author should stick with his chosen art of translation and transliteration -- and leave the philosophizing the experts (or at least one who has seriously thought about good and evil).

    15 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angela Van Boening 08-30-15 Member Since 2014
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    "The Cornerstone of Adventure, Fantasy, and Epic Literature"

    This deserves five star not because of the book/story itself, but because it is the cornerstone of the fantasy, epic, and adventure genres. It gives us a glimpse into the creativity and imagination of ancient authors, and it reveals parallels between the (anti-)heroes of antiquity and those of today. Every reader should read it, if only to appreciate the history of storytelling.

    Furthermore, the author/translator does an amazing job in his essay describing the details of the epic and the literary meanings of the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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