“Gilgamesh Reaction Paper”
Dr. Sunni Thibodeau
World Literature to 1650
January 29, 2013
“Gilgamesh Reaction Paper”
The two versions of Gilgamesh in the Norton Anthology: Western Literature, Eighth Edition, by Benjamin R. Foster, and the other by Stephen Mitchell both express the amazing parallel resemblances to The Flood. The main difference between the two is the way each version is written. Fosters is more adept to the original and traditional epic, while Mitchell’s is written more as a modern story that still keeps the original in mind. Either way, both authors desire to show the power and nature of a true epic in the writing, as well as the parallels to The Flood.
Both pieces tell the story of Tablet or Book XI. Foster’s piece sticks more with how the original epic went. It may be easy for many readers to get a little lost through the tale since it is the later part of the epic. It becomes way more understandable if the introduction to Gilgamesh is read. For heavier readers, Fosters writing style may be easy to read. It is the writing style that is the biggest difference between the two pieces. Mitchell’s version of that part of the epic is something that readers that do not read as much would want to read. It is more modernly written and easier to understand.
It is during the reading that readers may realize that it has a strong resemblance to The Flood, in the Bible. It becomes even more apparent while reading the introduction or doing research on the subject. In the Flood, Noah is given a task to build the Ark, and gather up two of every creature on the boat. Him and his family were on the Ark. There are a few differences between The Flood, and the tale in Gilgamesh, like a few aspects of the build of the Ark, and how many people where on it. Once on the Ark, there is another difference. When the time was almost up for the flood, birds were sent out to see if there was land. The birds were slightly different in the telling. The resemblances of the stories are amazing, either way.
At first I didn’t think that the pieces would hold my attention at all. Reading over the introduction helped me out a lot, though. I also became more interested in Gilgamesh once I realized I had read a piece of it before. The part I read while in high school was the part with Humbaba. Having past experience with the story helped my knowledge, as well as concentration while reading.
While reading Gilgamesh, I began to realize how many aspects of life resemble others. There are so many wars fought over religion when the thing is, even religions have so many aspects that are the same. There are different versions of The Flood in many religious, and non religious pieces. It is not until reading something like Gilgamesh that some people can see that. It is also interesting to see an “epic” character in action. Each epic poem has the main characters of the epic, which can be compared and contrasted to other characters in other epic poems. Gilgamesh went through so much in the tale, and near the end, he finally becomes the King that he needs to be. There is a lot that can be learned while reading Gilgamesh.
Reading the part of Gilgamesh that was given, makes me think that I might find the rest of the tale sometime and read it on my own. I normally do not like having to read stories. I prefer to read stories and poems on my own time. However, epic tales and poems are quite good reads if the reader takes the time to sit down and read. Gilgamesh reminds me of times in high school when I would have to read the Iliad and the Odyssey.
Overall, I liked both versions of Gilgamesh that was given. Both were good and written well. The translations were easy enough to read. After the introduction the knowledge of the story grows and helps the understanding and enjoyment. I liked it a lot better than I thought I would originally, and the parallel to The Flood is fascinating.