Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others

By Anonymous

Rating: 3 stars

This is an interesting series of myths from ancient Mesopotamia, which were probably the origins of the tropes and archetypes that appear again and again in western mythology and narrative. The introduction to each one is interesting, but the actual myths themselves can be difficult, as they have been reconstructed from fragments of recovered clay tablets, and many fragments are still missing. This can be a single missing word, or entire sections of the text.

Also, to modern sensibilities the tales are awfully bare, with little embellishment. The introduction suggests that this is because these were only notes that would be mnemonics to the storytellers of the time who would fill in the details and make the stories come to life. This is interesting, but it does make reading these sometimes a bit of a chore.

Book details

ISBN: 9780199538362
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Year of publication: -1750


By Roberto Calasso, Tim Parks

Rating: 3 stars

This book is going to be difficult for me to review because it’s not what I was expecting or wanting. I was hoping for a book that would take me through some of the stories of Hindu mythology, an area in which my knowledge is woefully inadequate, being limited to hazy childhood memories. However, it turned out to be more a setting out of some of the principles of Hindu philosophy, using some of the stories to hang that on to. This is a noble aim in itself, but it’s not what I was looking for.

Taking the book in its own right then, there’s a lot of dense material here. Often you’ll find a short story or parable from one of the ancient texts, and then a large amount of philosophy hung off the back of that. I must confess that I did struggle a lot with that, and a lot went sailing over my head. Difficult, dense, but probably rewarding, if you were willing to put more effort into it than I was.

Book details

ISBN: 9780099750710
Publisher: Random House
Year of publication: 1996

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