Tuesday, November 02, 2010


Translated by N.K. Sandars

Translated and introduced by N.K. Sandars, the dean of Bronze Age Near Eastern studies, the story of Gilgamesh is the first sword & sorcery cycle on record. For all y’all who obsess over the latest Robert Jordan pastiche of Conan or have memorized all the episodes of Xena in order, here’s a hint: adventure stories that feature bold warriors and loyal sidekicks are as old as, well, stories.

OK, technically the Epic of Gilgamesh is a myth cycle, but it is a lesson in how to write a story that endures. It’s not just antiquarian interest, Gilgamesh’s story is a ripping adventure with wild men, hookers with hearts of gold, giants, gods, goddesses, and monsters.

At the core of the story is the friendship of Gilgamesh, the arrogant king of Uruk (the original sword-wielding bullyboy with a decent side), and Enkidu the Wild-man (the very prototype of Tarzan). Together the pals channel their energies into more socially acceptable forms of derring-do, until they have to fight Death himself.

This is a tale from the Bronze Age that still grasps audiences. Will anything written in the 20th century be remembered 4,000 years from now?
-Dave Hardy



Charles Gramlich said...

I just read this a couple of years back. Very good stuff really.

Dave Hardy said...

It's worth revisiting, especially a good translation like the one by Sanders.

I have a soft spot for those old Penguin paperbacks. I've got piles of 'em, mostly translations of Greek & Roman authors.