Next community read with Barker: Gilgamesh

After successful community reading projects where participants made their way through The Decameron and Paradise Lost, the City of Literature joins with Anna Barker for a shorter project: Gilgamesh.

“I am happy to announce our next reading – welcome to Ten Days of Gilgamesh, November 1-10!” Barker writes. “I absolutely adore the Stephen Mitchell translation of the Epic of Gilgamesh. It is muscular, fresh, modern, and vibrant – with an excellent introduction!”

Barker, an assistant adjunct professor at the University of Iowa, will will lead discussion as participants make their way through the work. An introduction will be posted on the City of Literature website, and Barker will post daily on the Gilgamesh group on the City of Literature’s Facebook page.

The Epic of Gilgamesh, which is the oldest known literary text, will transport readers to the world of Ancient Mesopotamia, modern day Iraq, and take us on a journey to the ancient city of Uruk.

“In Books Eleven and Twelve of Paradise Lost, we encounter the stories of Noah and the Great Flood and meet Abraham, who hails from the Mesopotamian city of Ur,” Barker writes. “The Epic of Gilgamesh predates these Old Testament stories and by one thousand years – the earliest sections of the epic are from 2000 BCE.

“The main character of the epic, Gilgamesh, is the arrogant, brutal and all-powerful king of Uruk who must confront the limitations of his power and come to terms with his human vulnerability. It is a story about a great love and a great friendship, a story of the development of agriculture and flowering of city life, a cautionary tale about the interactions between gods and humans, and a devastating tale of loss and sorrow. As so many of us mourn the loss of dear friends and loved ones, I would like to dedicate this reading to the memory of everyone who departed in 2020. On a personal note, this reading is honoring the memory of David Lee Nelson who left this world too too soon.”

Barker’s introduction to the project will be posted in the days before the Nov. 1 start.


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