David Damrosch has laid this book out in a very accessible manner, starting with the early archaeology days and Smith translating parts of the epic poem, to Hormuzd Rassam who discovered the ancient city of Nineveh, to the Victorian England sensationalism over the Gilgamesh flood story. I loved how the tale of unearthing this ancient story rolled it’s way backwards to Ashurbanipal, wh0 was an ancient Mesopotamian king who could and did read. He created one of the largest libraries of ancient Mesopotamia, which eventually burned. Luckily, Gilgamesh was preserved on clay tablets, and was such a popular tale, copies of it were wide spread – including into Hittite culture. It is also possible the ancient Greek bards were singing the deeds of our hero Gilgamesh during the time of the Homeric poets.
What I Liked: Ancient archaeology; the language bits; the adventure of unearthing something lost for 2000+ years; the thought that there could be more such stories, fiction or otherwise, just waiting to be rediscovered.
What I Disliked: Robert Silverberg’s Gilgamesh the King was not listed among the modern works inspired by Gilgamesh.