The Epic of Gilgamesh

The Epic of Gilgamesh book

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Introduced and translated by Andrew George.

Bound in buckram.

Blocked with a design by Francis Mosley.

Set in Poliphilus.

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The Epic of Gilgamesh


The oldest poem in world literature

The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the world’s earliest known works of narrative poetry and one of the most powerful epics ever written. It tells of the great Babylonian king Gilgamesh, part god and part man, who lives alone until the gods create the wild man Enkidu as his companion. The friends go on great quests, but in doing so they incur the wrath of the gods. When they punish Gilgamesh by slaying his friend, he is driven by grief and despair to seek the secret of immortality. The longevity of this 4,000-year-old poem is testament to its insight into humanity. As Andrew George says, ‘It is at once an adventure story, a critique of tyranny, a study of friendship, a meditation on death and, above all, an examination of one man’s emotional and spiritual development. For Gilgamesh is each one of us, his story an example of every human being’s path from youth to age.’

‘Who is there can rival his kingly standing,
and say like Gilgamesh, “It is I am the king”?
Gilgamesh was his name from the day he was born,
two-thirds of him god and one-third human.’

This is the most complete general edition available, presenting the standard Akkadian version alongside later Babylonian and Sumerian texts. Bold and dramatic illustrations by Francis Mosley evoke the Babylonian origins of the poem.

‘Gilgamesh is stupendous!’
RAINER MARIA RILKE

The Epic of Gilgamesh is the world’s earliest known work of narrative poetry, dating from around 2000 BC. This edition, translated by Andrew George, Professor of Babylonian at the University of London, is the most complete general edition available, comprising the standard Akkadian version of the Babylonian epic alongside older Babylonian and Sumerian texts, and has been widely acclaimed for its scholarly accuracy and poetic sensitivity. A detailed introduction by Professor George explains the historical and literary origins of the poem and its many versions, while the bold and dramatic illustrations by Francis Mosley bring this epic vividly to life.

‘The Epic of Gilgamesh tells the story of the greatest king of Babylonian legend: how his appetites for combat and love were too much for the people of his city, how the gods brought them relief by creating a counterpart to befriend him, and how the pair made themselves famous by killing monsters at home and abroad but offended the gods in doing so; how the gods then punished them with the death of Gilgamesh’s friend, how Gilgamesh, driven by grief and despair, sought immortality in a quest that took him to the ends of the earth … It is at once an adventure story, a critique of tyranny, a study of friendship, a meditation on death, and, above all, an examination of one man’s emotional and spiritual development. For Gilgamesh is each one of us, his story an example of every human being’s path from youth to age.’
ANDREW GEORGE

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