ABUSCH, T. Male and Female in the Epic of Gilgamesh: Encounters, Literary History, and Interpretation. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2015, IX + 236 p. – ISBN 9781575063492.
The Epic of Gilgamesh combines the power and tragedy of the Iliad with the wanderings and marvels of the Odyssey. It is a work of adventure, but it is no less a meditation on some fundamental issues of human existence. The epic explores many issues; it surely provides a Mesopotamian formulation of human predicaments and options. Most of all, the work grapples with issues of an existential nature. It talks about the powerful human drive to achieve, the value of friendship, the experience of loss, the inevitability of death. The story draws together the many strands that make up the identity of Gilgamesh: man, hero, king, god. Gilgamesh must learn to live. The studies gathered here all demonstrate Tzvi Abusch s approach to ancient literature: to make use of the tools of literary, structural, and critical analysis in service of exploring the personal and psychological dimensions of the narration. The author focuses especially on the encounters between males and females in the story. The essays are not only instructive for understanding the Epic of Gilgamesh, they also serve as exemplary studies of ancient literature with a view to investigating streams of commonality between ancient times and ours.
Tzvi Abusch is Rose B. and Joseph Cohen Professor of Assyriology and Ancient Near Eastern Religion, Brandeis University, USA.