Review oor boek:
Gilgamesh is a rich, spare, and evocative novel of encounters and escapes, of friendship and love, of loss and acceptance, a debut that marks the emergence of a world-class talent. It is 1937, and the modern world is waiting to erupt. On a farm in rural Australia, seventeen-year-old Edith lives with her mother and her sister, Frances. One afternoon two men, her English cousin Leopold and his Armenian friend Aram, arrive-taking the long way home from an archaeological dig in Iraq-to captivate Edith with tales of a world far beyond the narrow horizon of her small town of Nunderup. One such story is the epic of Gilgamesh, the ancient Mesopotamian king who traveled the world in search of eternal life. Two years later, in 1939, Edith and her young son, Jim, set off on their own journey, to Soviet Armenia, where they are trapped by the outbreak of war. Rich, spare, and evocative, Gilgamesh won The Age Book of the Year Award for Fiction and was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award alongside Richard Flanagan's
The story starts with an introduction of Gilgamesh of Uruk, the greatest king on earth, two-thirds god and one-third human, as the strongest King-God who ever existed. The introduction describes his glory and praises the brick city walls of Uruk. The people in the time of Gilgamesh, however, are not happy. They complain that he is too harsh and abuses his power by sleeping with women before their husbands do, so the goddess of creation Aruru creates the wild-man Enkidu. Enkidu starts bothering the shepherds. When one of them complains to Gilgamesh, the king sends the woman Shamhat who was a priestess (a nadītu or hierodule in Greek) for religious purposes. The body contact with Shamhat civilizes Enkidu, and after several nights, he is no longer a wild beast who lives with animals. In the meanwhile, Gilgamesh has some strange dreams, his mother Ninsun explains them by telling that a mighty friend will come to him.
Enkidu and Shamhat leave the wilderness for Uruk to attend a wedding. When Gilgamesh comes to the party to sleep with the bride, he finds his way blocked by Enkidu. Enkidu and Gilgamesh fight each other. After a mighty battle, Gilgamesh breaks off from the fight (or defeats Enkidu in other versions, this portion is missing from the Standard Babylonian version but is supplied from other versions).
Gilgamesh proposes to travel to the Cedar Forest to cut some great trees and kill a demon Humbaba for their glory. Enkidu objects but can not convince his friend. They seek the wisdom of the Elder Council, but Gilgamesh remains stubborn. Enkidu gives in and both prepare to journey to Cedar Forest. Gilgamesh tells his mother, who complains about it, but then asks the sun-god Shamash for support and gives Enkidu some advice. She also adopts Enkidu as her second son.
Gilgamesh and Enkidu journey to the Cedar Forest. On the way, Gilgamesh has five bad dreams, but due to the bad construction of the tablet, they are hard to reconstruct. Enkidu, each time, explains the dreams as a good omen. When they reach the forest Enkidu becomes afraid again and Gilgamesh has to encourage him.
When the heroes finally run into Humbaba, the demon/ogre guardian of the trees, the monster starts to offend them. This time, Gilgamesh is the one to become afraid. After some brave words of Enkidu the battle commences. Their rage separated Syria mountains from the Lebanon. Finally Shamash sends his 13 winds to help the two heroes and Humbaba is defeated. The monster begs Gilgamesh for his life, and Gilgamesh pities the creature. Enkidu, however, gets mad with Gilgamesh and asks him to kill the beast. Humbaba then turns to Enkidu and begs him to persuade his friend to spare his life. When Enkidu repeats his request to Gilgamesh, Humbaba curses them both before Gilgamesh puts an end to it. When the two heroes cut a huge tree, Enkidu makes a huge door of it for the gods and lets it float down the river.
Gilgamesh rejects the sexual advances of Anu's daughter, the goddess Ishtar, because of her mistreatment of her previous lovers like Dumuzi. Ishtar asks her father Anu to send the "Bull of Heaven" to avenge the rejected sexual advances. When Anu rejects her complaints, Ishtar threatens to raise the dead. Anu becomes scared and gives in. The bull of heaven is a plague for the lands. Apparently the creature has something to do with drought because, according to the epic, the water disappeared and the vegetation died. Whatever the case, Gilgamesh and Enkidu, this time without divine help, slay the beast and offer its heart to Shamash. When they hear Ishtar cry out in agony, Enkidu tears off the bull's hindquarter and throws it in her face and threatens her. The city Uruk celebrates, but Enkidu has a bad dream detailed in the next tablet.
In the dream of Enkidu, the gods decide that somebody has to be punished for killing the Bull of Heaven and Humbaba, in the end they decide to punish Enkidu. All of this is much against the will of Shamash. Enkidu tells Gilgamesh all about it, then curses the door he made for the gods. Gilgamesh is shocked and goes to temple to pray to Shamash for the health of his Friend. Enkidu then starts to curse the trapper and Shamhat because now he regrets the day that he became human. Shamash speaks from the heaven and points out how unfair Enkidu is; he also tells him that Gilgamesh will become a shadow of his former self because of his death. Enkidu regrets his curses and blesses Shamhat. He becomes more and more ill and describes the Netherworld as he is dying.
Gilgamesh delivers a lamentation for Enkidu, offering gifts to the many gods, in order that they might walk beside Enkidu in the netherworld.
Gilgamesh sets out to avoid Enkidu's fate and makes a perilous journey to visit Utnapishtim and his wife, the only humans to have survived the Great Flood who were granted immortality by the gods, in the hope that he too can attain immortality. Along the way, Gilgamesh passes the two mountains from where the sun rises, which are guarded by two scorpion-beings. They allow him to proceed and he travels through the dark where the sun travels every night. Just before the sun is about to catch up with him, he reaches the end. The land at the end of the tunnel is a wonderland full of trees with leaves of jewels.
Gilgamesh meets the alewyfe Siduri and tells her the purpose of his journey. Siduri attempts to dissuade him from his quest but sends him to Urshanabi the ferryman to help him cross the sea to Utnapishtim. Urshanabi is in the company of some stone-giants. Gilgamesh considers them hostile and kills them. When he tells Urshanabi his story and asks for help. He is told that he just killed the only creatures able to cross the Waters of Death. The waters of death are not to be touched, so Utshanabi commands him to cut 300 trees and fashion them into oars so that they can cross the waters by picking a new oar each time. Finally they reach the island of Utnapishtim. Utnapishtim sees that there is someone else in the boat, and asks Gilgamesh who he is. Gilgamesh tells him his story and asks for help, but Utnapishtim reprimands him because fighting the fate of humans is futile and ruins the joy in life.
Gilgamesh argues that Utnapishtim is not different from him and asks him his story, why he has a different fate. Utnapishtim tells him about the great flood. His story is a summary of the story of Atrahasis (see also Gilgamesh flood myth) but skips the previous plagues sent by the gods. He reluctantly offers Gilgamesh a chance for immortality, but questions why the gods would give the same honour as himself, the flood hero, to Gilgamesh and challenges Gilgamesh to stay awake for six days and seven nights first. However, just when Utnapishtim finishes his words Gilgamesh falls asleep. Utnapishtim ridicules the sleeping Gilgamesh in the presence of his wife and tells her to bake a loaf of bread for every day he is asleep so that Gilgamesh cannot deny his failure. When Gilgamesh, after six days and seven nights discovers his failure, Utnapishtim is furious with him and sends him back to Uruk with Urshanabi in exile. The moment that they leave, Utnapishtim's wife asks her husband to have mercy on Gilgamesh for his long journey. Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh of a plant at the bottom of the ocean that will make him young again. Gilgamesh obtains the plant by binding stones to his feet so he can walk the bottom of the sea. He does not trust the plant and plans to test it on an old man's back when he returns to Uruk. Unfortunately he places the plant on the shore of a lake while he bathes, and it is stolen by a serpent who loses his old skin and thus is reborn. Gilgamesh weeps in the presence of Urshanabi. Having failed at both opportunities, he returns to Uruk, where the sight of its massive walls prompts him to praise this enduring work to Urshanabi.
Note that the content of the last tablet is not connected with previous ones. Gilgamesh complains to Enkidu that his ball-game-toys fell in the underworld. Enkidu offers to bring them back. Delighted, Gilgamesh tells Enkidu what he must and must not do in the underworld in order to come back. Enkidu forgets the advice and does everything he was told not to do. The underworld keeps him. Gilgamesh prays to the gods to give him his friend back. Enlil and Sin don’t bother to reply but Enki and Shamash decide to help. Shamash cracks a hole in the earth and Enkidu jumps out of it. The tablet ends with Gilgamesh questioning Enkidu about what he has seen in the underworld. The story doesn’t make clear if Enkidu reappears only as a ghost or really comes alive again.