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Gilbert M. Stack

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The Buried Book by David Damrosch

Posted by Gilbert Stack on June 8, 2022 at 5:55 AM

The Buried Book by David Damrosch

This book on the discovery of The Epic of Gilgamesh can easily be broken into four parts including a rather rambling epilogue. The first part details the lives and careers of two British Museum archaeologists—George Smith and Hormuzd Rassam. The second takes a look at the court life in ancient Babylon in roughly 2500 BCE. The third is a short summary of the Epic of Gilgamesh. And the fourth is a brief account of the epic’s influence in modern times. The result is not a book on the rediscovery of the first great epic poem, but a rather jumbled set of accounts on the above topics. To give Damrosch credit, he starts very well, but the whole account quickly loses steam as the book seems to veer off topic repeatedly. The little side routes are interesting, but they distract from the overall sense of unity that I expected the book to achieve. At many times I kept asking myself when the Epic of Gilgamesh was going to reappear in Damrosch’s account.

 

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