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Gilgamesh among UsModern Encounters with the Ancient Epic$
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Theodore Ziolkowski

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801450358

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801450358.001.0001

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Representative Beginnings (1941–1958)

Representative Beginnings (1941–1958)

(p.47) 2 Representative Beginnings (1941–1958)
Gilgamesh among Us

Theodore Ziolkowski

Cornell University Press

Since the mid-twentieth century, the Gilgamesh story has been treated in a variety of aesthetic forms: fiction, poetry, drama, opera, film, painting, and beyond. These treatments, however varied they may be, use one of four basic modes of modernization. First, and most straightforward, is translation, ranging from highly literal to free. Second, are fictionalizing and dramatic revisions of the theme: that is, works that retell the story in its original period and setting while imposing upon it a viewpoint and values characteristic of the writer's own age. The third mode may be called postfigurative: that is, works set in the writer's own time but whose action clearly follows a pattern identified with a mythic model. Finally, there is a catch-all category that might be called broadly thematic or motivic analogues: that is, works sometimes known as “pseudonyms” or imitatio that seek to establish a loose thematic connection with the source work. This chapter examines works from all four categories or modes.

Keywords:   modernization, translation, thematization, pseudonyms, imitatio, Epic of Gilgamesh, epic poem, epic poetry

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