Virtual Course, Michael Schmidt at 92YGilgamesh


Reading Gilgamesh with Michael Schmidt

Gilgamesh, the oldest poem in the world, is a relatively new classic.

Its composition began more than two millennia BCE and ended around 700 BCE. Parts of it were rediscovered, inscribed on clay tablets in cuneiform writing, in Mesopotamia early in the nineteenth century. Since then it has become a work in progress, a collaboration led by Assyriologists, joined by archeologists, ruin raiders, museum curators, philologists, scholars and writers. The poem prefigures almost every literary tone and trope and suggests all genres, from dramatic to epic, from lament to lyric and chronicle, that have followed it. Its fractures and foreshadows Modernism, which it teased and nourished, teases and nourishes. It is a whole synthesized from fragments. Breakage is part of what and how it means. Explore how the poem is a work in progress, even now, and why it holds special fascination for translators and contemporary poets.

Class meets Thursday: Apr 1 and 8. $60.00

To purchase Schmidt’s Gilgamesh: The Life of a Poem, visit Princeton University Press. Use code MSCH for 30% discount on your book purchase. Offer is good through May 30, 2021.