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The Life of a Poem

Michael Schmidt



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Princeton University Pres
01 July 2021
Reflections on a lost poem and its rediscovery by contemporary poets.

Gilgamesh is the most ancient long poem known to exist. It is also the newest classic in the canon of world literature. Lost for centuries to the sands of the Middle East but found again in the 1850s, it is a story of monsters, gods, and cataclysms, and of intimate friendship and love. Acclaimed literary historian Michael Schmidt provides a unique meditation on the rediscovery of Gilgamesh, showing how part of its special fascination is its captivating otherness. He reflects on the work of leading poets such as Charles Olson, Louis Zukofsky, and Yusef Komunyakaa, whose own encounters with the poem are revelatory, and he reads its many translations and editions to bring it vividly to life for today’s readers.
By:   Michael Schmidt
Imprint:   Princeton University Pres
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 216mm,  Width: 140mm, 
ISBN:   9780691205168
ISBN 10:   0691205167
Pages:   192
Publication Date:   01 July 2021
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Michael Schmidt is a literary historian, poet, novelist, translator, and anthologist as well as an editor and publisher. His books include Lives of the Poets, The Novel: A Biography, and The First Poets. Twitter @4Michael7

Reviews for Gilgamesh: The Life of a Poem

An insightful, stimulating book sure to breathe new life into the would-be immortal king. --Publishers Weekly For anyone interested in language, history, or the power of a great story, this biography of a poem assures endless discoveries. ---Jeva Lange, The Week A brilliant book, brilliantly executed. Michael Schmidt's unparalleled love for poetry, ancient and modern, brings to life the continuing vitality and importance of the world's earliest surviving poem, with fascinating new insights on every page. A real treasure. --Ruth Padel, author of Darwin: A Life in Poems A great pleasure to read. In this illuminating book, Schmidt sheds a kaleidoscopic light on Gilgamesh, its journeys, and its possible futures. All in a way that is seemingly effortless and without strain, a rare thing in critical discourse. --Philip Terry, author of Dictator Michael Schmidt's book is a lively and instructive read, full of insight and response that bring a new voice to the poem's reception. --A. R. George, author of The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic This is a remarkable and hugely worthwhile book. I cannot imagine a better introduction to Gilgamesh, but it is also something more than that. Schmidt has written a stimulating literary study that makes this oldest of poems feel new, exciting, and on the move. --Peter McDonald, translator of The Homeric Hymns

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