Gilgamesh

A New English Version

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Gilgamesh is considered one of the masterpieces of world literature, but until now there has not been a version that is a superlative literary text in its own right. Acclaimed by critics and scholars, Stephen Mitchell's version allows us to enter an ancient masterpiece as if for the first time, to see how startlingly beautiful, intelligent, and alive it is.
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  • Atria Books | 
  • 304 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743261692 | 
  • February 2006
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Reading Group Guide

Gilgamesh: A New English Version
Stephen Mitchell

Questions and Topics for Discussion


PROLOGUE:

The narrator of the epic introduces Gilgamesh in a unique way; he doesn’t mention his name until the last line of the prologue.

1) What effect does the narrator create as he introduces the hero?

2) What kind of “portrait” does the narrator give of Gilgamesh?

3) Many of the sentences in the Prologue are imperative. Why does the narrator command the reader to do this and that?

BOOK I:

1) This book opens with a positive description of Gilgamesh ending with the word “perfect.” Then, in the next paragraph the description changes, and the word “arrogant” is used. What is the “true” picture of Gilgamesh?

2) When the goddess Aruru forms the savage man, Enkidu, another problem is presented. He is a wild man roaming the forest with the animals, and the trapper cannot make a living since the fearsome Enkidu is tearing out his traps and freeing the animals. Why do you think the Gilgamesh author made this “double for Gilgamesh, his second self” so different from the city-dwelling Gilgamesh?

3) The goddess’s solution to the trapper’s problem is to introduce the wild man to sex with the woman Shamhat. A priestess of the goddess of love, who has dedicated herself to being a servant of the goddess, Shamhat see more

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