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Paperback Gilgamesh : A Klingon Translation Book

ISBN: 1587153386

ISBN13: 9781587153389

Gilgamesh : A Klingon Translation

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Book Overview

Book by Cheesbro, Roger

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

My First Introduction To Gilgamesh and Postmodern Poetics (from Ahadada Books)

I picked up this book back in the early 1970's from a little card shop in 140 Village Shopping Center, Westminster, Maryland. The owner and his daughters were almost my family because I came back again and again to the small "classics" rack they had on the back wall of the shop, and I sometimes fantasize that they stocked the racks with me in mind. There I found cheap paperback editions of Shelley and Milton and Pope among others, and one day I noticed this wonderful book and bought it with my spare change for something like 50 cents. Not only did the story of Gilgamesh as retold by Mr. Mason grip me, but I was enthralled by the "easy" free verse of the lines. The simple prose narrative was made to look and "sound" somewhat like a poem by the way it was set up on the page. I recognized this same kind of sensibility at work much later when I read Charles Reznikoff's Testimony and his long poem on the Holocaust, and encountered Dennis Tedlock's exercises in ethnopoetic translation. In a sense, then, this was my introduction to a new kind of postmodern poetics, and for that this "verse narrative"--now appearing in its latest version from Mariner Books, and augmented by an autobiographical postscript by the author--holds an important place in my development. On the other hand, it was not until I began reading Armand Schwerner's "Tablets" that I went back and began to investigate the more scholarly versions of Gilgamesh, and I discovered the extent to which Mr. Mason's narrative diverges from the original both in form and content. To get a real feeling for the true Gilgamesh I recommend the Andrew George translation (published by Penguin)of all the available versions and fragments. However, for a good introduction to Gilgamesh's quest to recover Enkidu from the dead suitable for high school classes or ESL college classes, I would suggest this one. Indeed, I plan to use this book in future in my comparative literature classes in Japan. Mason's description of Gilgamesh's grief retold in such plain language is very understandable to students at all levels, and very moving.

A work of art!

Translating poetry is a tricky thing. Some people maintain that it can't be done. I would say that the translator can set himself three possible goals. First, he can try to create a "trot," a plain, "literal" translation where every word of the original is explained. See Nabokov's "Eugene Onegin" for an example of this. Second, he can try "simply" to translate it, to give his reader a good idea of what is there on the page, the mood, and so forth. LOTS of translators do this. Third, and most elusive, most difficult, is to create a work of literary art IN ENGLISH (or whatever the target language is). Hopefully this third goal will automatically include all the most important elements of "mere translation." But, if the translator succeeeds, he will have created an independent work of art which will then take on a life of its own. The most famous example of this would probably be FitzGerald's "Ruba'iyat of Omar Khayyam," probably better described as a fantasy and variations on themes of Omar Khayyam. Alexander Pope's translation of Homer's "Iliad" surely has legs, still in print after all these years. David Ferry has attempted the third goal in his translation of "Gilgamesh," and to my mind he succeeds. The result is a moving and beautiful work of literary art, and I predict a very long life for it.

A clear and precise rendering of the world's oldest epic

When I read this version, I wanted to buy and I did! I loved this simplified translation and Herbert Mason provided a clear understanding of the Mesopotamian story. I loved the use of the blank verse style, Mason has done well in this abridged version of the epic. I'd like to see more abridged works of ancient epics by Mason! I loved the Babylonian relief on the front cover too. I would have appreciated Mason to provide to ending where Gilgamesh finally dies. Get this version of Gilgamesh.

The first book ever written remains a treat

Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk (and in real life he was the king of Uruk), is the first tragic hero recorded by the human race. Though many of the epic's tablets were discovered in Assurbanipal's Assyrian library (7th century B.C), parts of this book appear to originate from around 3000 B.C. Long before the Assyrians, 1800 years before the Hebrews, and, in fact, before anybody as this story originated with the hard-bitten people of Sumer, the first civilization, who happened to have been utterly lost from history until the 19th century A.D. The very civilization to invent the wheel, the city, the sexigesimal system governing the sweep of hands on your watch and, most importantly, writing. Say "alcohol", and you speak Sumerian - as they apparently invented that too, while the word has not changed for over 5000 years. "Hard-bitten" because while the Egyptians would celebrate Nile floods, Sumerians cursed themselves for having deserved such punishment as a flooded Tigris or Euphrates. To Egyptians the sun was life. To Sumerians the sun was relentless. Suffering is an excellent source of creativity (though the Egyptians did well with less) and Gilgamesh reflects this in both its creativity and diagnosis. Although very old, his story is forever new. Gilgamesh is - as stated in the introduction - emblematic of our concern with mortality, the struggle for knowledge and escape from the common lot of man. As a mortal, Gilgamesh is condemned to death, but he doesn't take his fate lying down. So, like all good mythologies, he sets out on a great adventure to rectify his problem, encountering gods, monsters and his best friend, Enkidu, the "savage man", who is at home with the animals, until enticed by the civilized Gilgamesh with a woman - something he never saw before. Perhaps a symbol of man's complications when leaving his natural state.Most interestingly Gilgamesh reaches "where the sun rises" to meet Upnapishtim. Upnapishtim is by now famous for saving "the seed of all living creatures" on a boat, whose dimensions are given by a rogue god friendly to man, all before a great worldwide flood sent by other capricious gods because humans were making too much noise, keeping the gods from sleep. (That Noah mimics the Upnapishtim myth should be no surprise as Sumer influenced the Levant for thousands of years after its passing.)When Enkidu dies Gilgamesh morns, "How can I rest when Enkidu, whom I love is dust and I too shall die and be laid in the earth forever." In the end Gilgamesh is "mocked by fate, lost opportunities, wasted hopes and swallowed by death". Apparently, no matter how many gods you have - and the Sumerians had hundreds, one even for the pick-axe - death remains a mystery and confidence of reward a hunch. A wonderful journey into the mind of humanities first civilization, greater understanding of scriptures to follow and a clear signal that the deepest concerns of our human condition remain unaltered no matter where or when.

Gilgamesh : Translated from the Sin-Leqi-Unninni Version

This book introduced me to the epic. It is the perfect combination of professional detail and lay man knowledge. There is a detailed discussion on cuniform which you can skip straight to the verse. I read another version after finishing this one and it really sucked in comparison. Kudos to these the authors and A MUST READ FOR ALL!Kang
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