03 March 2014

Gilgamesh: a Verse Narrative, by Herbert Mason

                                              She made me see 
Things as a man, and a man sees death in things. 
That is what it is to be a man.

 I stumbled across this somewhat randomly, because a student of mine bought the wrong translation of the text. I'm so glad he did, because this is really wonderful. I would never use it to teach, because it strips the original of much of its rich ambiguity -- it is decidedly a subjective version of the story -- but simultaneously, one must admit that it is not only more approachable, it also eloquently brings out the beauty of the book. While I might quibble with some of the interpretive choices, I am grateful to Mason for demonstrating how amenable the text is to such treatment. Given the many re-tellings of the Iliad, it's actually kind of astonishing that there aren't more of these (Dear Anne Carson: please? I know it's not Greek, but I'm confident you can do it anyhow.). A quick read, and a pleasurable one.