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Gilgamesh: A New Rendering in English Verse
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Gilgamesh: A New Rendering in English Verse

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  449 ratings  ·  66 reviews
Paperback, 99 pages
Published 1992 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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3.76  · 
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 ·  449 ratings  ·  66 reviews

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Jim Coughenour
Sep 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Richard Poirier* says in his blurb on the back of this book,
The poetic splendor and sublimity of David Ferry's Gilgamesh is entirely of his own making, and his great poem is no more indebted to earlier versions of its story than is anything of Shakespeare's to North's Plutarch.
And maybe that's the right spirit in which to approach this version. However, I found myself missing the grain of the original. For example, the resonant opening phrase of the epic in Andrew George's translation is He who
Arav Agarwal
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The emotion is raw.
The repetition is long, said Arav, the student of IA

Wailed Arav, the student of IA:
The emotion is raw, the repetition is long
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This story is so beautifully powerful; it amazes me every time I think of it that this is the oldest of humanity's stories. It explores the exquisite joy of life, and the crippling fear of death. But instead of focusing on riches, glory, and fame--while those things are certainly sought, its lesson is that the joy of life is camaraderie and community, the love we give to and receive from others. And instead of the hero defeating death, conquering the fate that took his most beloved friend, the l ...more
Hannah Mead
Oct 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
This is basically an ancient fantasy book that repeats itself a lot and has some weird raunchy stuff mixed in there too. And it's highly theologically inaccurate. But it was interesting in it's own right, and now I can at least say that I've read it.
Feb 28, 2018 added it
Shelves: poetry, mythology
Not the version I would have chosen for reading Gilgamesh in its entirety for the first time (generally preferring translations of the original rather than translations of translations) but not half bad either.
Wes Hazard
Nov 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The original bromance, Ancient Sumer style, and it's still setting the standard.

Like many people my age (or so I'd like to think) the first I ever heard of Gilgamesh was in the "Batman: The Animated Series" episode where Bane makes his debut. The secret prison science experiment that turned a ruthless, hardened, hyper-intelligent convict into a ruthless, hardened, hyper-intelligent supervillain by pumping untested chemicals straight into his brain was called "Project Gilgamesh"…I was intrigued.

Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
The lives of man are short. Only the gods live forever
Apr 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I love David Ferry. His Horace translations are amazing. This is not a translation (Ferry doesn't know Akkadian or Cuneiform) but a reworking of several literal, scholarly translations into unrhyming iambic pentameter couplets.

I read this because several people have recently told me that Gilgamesh rivals both the Hebrew Bible and Homer. Gilgamesh is great, but it's not comparable to Homer or the Bible. I don't think these people have really read any of the three; they just want to celebrate a "n
Nov 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
This is an interesting tale for the modern reader. Gilgamesh is the demi-god king of Uruk, challenged by Enkidu, the hairy wild-man created to be the challenger and equal of Gilgamesh. They go on adventures, and are posed as threats to the gods themselves--in true pagan fashion.

It is a quick read--I read it in a little more than an hour. It is in the mold of Beowulf and I dare say Tolkien was influenced by the style.

One of the most interesting aspects of the story, of course, is Gilgamesh's enc
Jan 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
I recommend Gilgamesh to anyone who enjoys ancient literature and epic poetry, or who simply wants to experience reading a very old text. Students of the bible and classical mythology will enjoy making comparisons with the the book of Genesis and Homer’s Odyssey. While I am not qualified to comment on the quality of Ferry’s translation, I found the poetry to be both meaningful and engaging. By the time I had finished reading, I was curious to learn more about ancient Mesopotamia and Gilgamesh.
Mark Mcgraw
Aug 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The original epic. Loved this book.
Spike Gomes
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Epic of Gilgamesh is probably the earliest coherent piece of creative "literature" that we currently have, in that its primary purpose was not religious, historical or economic, but mostly to entertain and move people in the epic recounting of the deeds and quest for immortality of the great king of Uruk, Gilgamesh. Previous translations have focused on the historical and linguistic quest to reconstruct the text from various fragments across several languages and over the span of a millenniu ...more
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Gilgamesh is a Sumerian epic recorded in cuneiform tablets around 2700 BC, and as such may be the oldest story in all written history. No doubt it had an even older oral tradition. The epic poem centers on Gilgamesh, the might semi-divine king of Uruk. He is a bully and the prayers of his people lead the goddess Arunu to create an equal, the wild man Enkidu who comes to town and challenges the king. They fight hard and Gilgamesh so admires him that they become BFFs and go on adventures together. ...more
A.K. Klemm
I didn't realize this until I read the introduction and author's notes, but it should be noted that this is an interpretation, rather than a translation of primary sources. I think it is important to mention that because it does affect the reading experience. Ferry's version is not as gritty nor as eloquent as one would expect ancient literature to be, however it is very accessible for reluctant readers.
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A delightful read

I cannot compare David Ferry's translation to any other. However, I thoroughly enjoyed reading his version. It was lyrical and compelling. It was also nice to read this from my Kindle app, so I could easily look up all the ancient locations and names of historical characters and gods.
Jan 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Actual Review: 4 Stars

Is it weird to say I actually enjoyed this? This book was required reading for my Foundations of Western Culture class in college, and I can honestly say that it is one of the most intriguing older works I have ever read.
Sean Higgins
Weird story about a whiny demigod who wishes for immortality. Crazy that Abram probably knew this story, and even crazier the sorts of saviors that men imagine for themselves. Read this with the Omnibus Tenebras class (2018), and also with Omnibus I (2013).
Edmund Davis-Quinn
Apr 26, 2019 rated it liked it
A good read, I'm not sure how it compares to more scholarly versions.
James Whitmore
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics, 2017
5 stars for surviving almost 6,000 years. This translation has some gorgeous ideas and lines, it is thrilling to read, very weird and very moving.
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, philosophical, poetic and touching.
Saran Amartuvshin
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Short, fun read. Can't get over the fact that it's one of the first works of literature, and is from 4000+ years ago. Amazing.
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
love the history of this book and the artistic rendering offered by David Ferry.
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shorter than the other epics, at least
Dec 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Epic of Gilgamesh is the first of its kind in Western literature, coming from the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia . The hero is a legendary King, but men and gods are the inhabitants of this epic. While the epic transcends the real world of historical time it still speaks to us today with its story of the heroic journey and the friendship of Gilgamesh for Enkidu.
Enkidu is a wild man created by the gods as Gilgamesh's equal to distract him from oppressing the citizens of Uruk. But Enkidu
Kenia Sedler
Jun 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Epic of Gilgamesh, being an epic poem, is a chronicle with a beginning, middle, and end, except for the very last tablet (XII), which seems to have been tacked onto the end much later in time because not only is it its own story apart from all the rest, it contradicts the original story.

The epic begins with the overarching idea that Sumerians are conflicted about kingship (Gilgamesh is strong as a king should be—“two-thirds a god, one-third a man”—…but oppressive: “Aruru is the maker of this
John Mendez
Jan 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What’s older than olde schoole? It’s the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Spoiler-tastic review

I read the Epic of Gilgamesh. It contains the Sumerian retelling of the Flood myth, the bromance between Enkidu and Gilgamesh, monster hunting, a quest for immortality and some sex.

I did not like this translation. I suspect that the Anglicization of the use ‘harlot’ is a little too culturally loaded a term for a temple priestess.

Stay Sunny!

For more reviews, go to my blog
Alexis Martinez
Aug 25, 2013 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lianxin Lin
Nov 21, 2012 rated it liked it
This is a legend about alcoholism, sex, avarice and arrogance — the epic of Gilgamesh.

He was the king of Uruk, he who has been variously describe as a horror, a bully, and also a hero. He loves beauties and fame. He meets his companion, Enkidu by a dream. He goes to the end of the world to figure out the secret of immortality. His name is Gilgamesh, god, mortal. Even goddess Ishtar falls in love with him. Well, the greatest hate springs from the greatest love... Another great changeover after
We had to sift through a couple of different translations of this book to find the least pornographic one to use in our homeschool. This David Ferry translation was the safest, but there was still content near the beginning of the story that involved a temple prostitute, which parents will want to preview first before just handing it over to their kids. Aside from that one small part at the beginning (which really embarrassed my 13-year old son, even though it was toned down quite a bit compared ...more
Amro Halwah
Mar 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Amro Halwah 3/24/13
Advisory Ms. Hannah
The Epic of Gilgamesh by David Ferry is the first epic I ever read. This is a Mesopotamian epic that reflects over the Mesopotamian culture and society. It starts out confusing in the 1st tablet but in the 2nd tablet everything becomes simpler and easier to understand. Gilgamesh the protagonist embarks on a journey seeking immortality after witnessing his companion’s fate. With his companion he has achieved the unachievable by the mortals and after his comp
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Reading Classics,...: Gilgamesh (2000 BCE) - #1 13 42 Jun 12, 2017 07:28AM  
Reading Classics,...: [Gilgamesh] Genesis retold…or told here first 13 29 Jun 01, 2017 11:22AM  

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David Ferry was born in Orange, New Jersey in 1924. He is the author of a number of books of poetry and has translated several works from classical languages. Currently he is the Sophie Chantal Hart Professor Emeritus of English at Wellesley College, as well as a visiting lecturer in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at Boston University and a distinguished visiting scholar at Suffolk Universi ...more
“Gilgamesh wandered in the wilderness grieving over the death of Enkidu and weeping saying: “Enkidu has died. Must I die too? Must Gilgamesh be like that?” Gilgamesh felt the fear of it in his belly. He said to himself that he would seek the son of Ubartutu, Utnapishtim, he, the only one of men by means of whom he might find out how death could be avoided. He said to himself that he would hasten to him, the dangers of the journey notwithstanding.” 0 likes
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