This is my first reading of Gilgamesh (my understanding of the epic really came from Final Fantasy [1] and Wikipedia-tier summaries), so it's hard to know how much of my reaction to this is directed towards the epic versus how much of my reaction is directed towards the translation itself.

Some immediate things: it was shorter and more... mature than I expected. I don't think "mature" is quite the right word, but I'm struggling to think of an apter word: Helle describes it as 'complex' and 'resisting easy interpretation', which I think also works. It feels very much of two halves, as if the slaying of Humbaba transitions the world to one of balance to one of ruin and from a relatively trivial hypermasculine bro-treatise to a meditation on grief and toil.

It's hard to talk too much about a specific translation without having other data points to compare it to, but I certainly liked this. It felt casual and modern and melodic; it read quickly, and had poetic depth. (The unicode dots to serve as interstices was an inspired design choice.)

I'd happily recommend this to someone; it takes a scant hour or two to read through the epic (and another one or two to read the associated essays) and has lived rent-free in my head, as the youths say, for much longer than that.

  1. I was tickled to see the translator actually call out Final Fantasy (amongst many others) in one of the essays he included as a postscript! ↩︎


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