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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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The Popularization of Gilgamesh (1959–1978)

The Popularization of Gilgamesh (1959–1978)

3 The Popularization of Gilgamesh (1959–1978)
Gilgamesh among Us

Theodore Ziolkowski

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the popularization of the Gilgamesh epic and the broadening of its thematic use from 1959 to 1978. It discusses the many novels, stories, plays, poems, operas, drawings, readings, performances, and new interpretations of the Gilgamesh theme in countries extending from Italy to Poland, in both Europe and North America. These works demonstrate that by the late 1970s Gilgamesh had emerged from what had been primarily a German and English cultural context to become an increasingly familiar name and story in the world at large. The story's appeal had moved beyond the initially more somber attraction of immediate postwar audiences because of its message of consolation after death and depression. During the 1960s, such social themes as homosexuality were coming to the fore along with the philosophical-psychological recognition of the archetypal significance of the epic's figures, the representation of the shift from matriarchy to patriarchy, the struggle between titanic action and humanistic contemplation, science fiction, and questions of religion.

Keywords:   popularization, translation, Epic of Gilgamesh, epic poem, epic poetry, homosexuality, social themes

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