The Hero Enkidu: An Epic by Lewis Turco,
New York: Bordighera Press (www.BordigheraPress.org ), 2015, paperback. Available from Amazon at this link:
“Lewis Turco…appears to have combined the longevity of Utnapishtim with the energy and industry of Gilgamesh: once seized with inspiration, he wrote The Hero Enkidu at white heat in his eightieth year. The inspiration itself is of the kind that, once someone has come up with it, makes us wonder why no one ever thought of it before, because in a number of ways Enkidu is a more interesting and attractive figure than Gilgamesh.” Michael Palma, in the “Introduction.”
To read sample sections of the epic, the “Foreword,” and “Nimrod and Lilitu,” go to www.percontra.net/issues/30/poetry/canto-i/
Bordighera Press is a non-profit publisher of Italian-American literature since 1989. We publish works spanning award-winning poetry and prose to groundbreaking scholarship and research. Based in New York City, Bordighera Press has an international presence as the foremost publisher of Italianità in North America.
Pure literary gold arrived in our mailbox yesterday afternoon in the form of your newest book The Hero Enkidu, An Epic. You were absolutely correct in your prediction: I LOVE all you have done with this ancient story and you have certainly revitalized it for all future readers.
The accolades are well deserved and Martha & I send our congratulations and thanks.
With much love from all here,
Steven E. Swerdfeger
Editor and Publisher
Star Cloud Press
Turco's New Take on Oldest Extant Epic
An Amazon Review
The Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh is five millenia old. Such an antiquity doesn't seem likely to speak to readers today, in any measure. But it is a story examining the nature of friendship, the nature of loss, and the troubling question of human mortality. It is therefore as relevant to modern readers as it was in the beginning, when it existed first as an oral tale, and then when writing came along, as cuneiform inscriptions on clay tablets.
Gilgamesh has heretofore been the hero, the epic's central figure.The story's emphasis has of course been on the semi-divine king, over the centuries in various renderings.
What Lewis Turco does infuses the old tale with warm new energy by placing the emphasis on Enkidu, the wholly mortal and vulnerable companion to the king. In the course of the tale, Enkidu grows: from the innocent playmate of the animals, through experience, to become a seasoned and trusted warrior and leader. When Gilgamesh is set on destroying the ogre Humbaba, Enkidu advises him against it, but takes the dangerous lead position when they undertake the enterprise. The elders advise Gilgamesh:
be in the van
And you will be safe
Shamash has sworn.
Using the Anglo-Saxon alliterative verse form, Turco gives the tale the feel of antiquity, but a fresh antiquity, not that of Homer or the Bible. The story races along—it never lags--and that speed is due in part to the hemistich line pattern. Much of the delight of the rest is due to the splendid diction, the exacting choices, of a peerless poet.
And forth they marched
together, the heroes
And their warrior army
to find the spot
Where Humbaba dwelt
in the Cedar Forest
had been born ...
Ruth F. Harrison
I have only read The Hero Enkidu once but admired the deftness of the lines and the way you kept the pace going. It's an unusual read but one I shall read again with more care than I've been able to do so far. My admiration for your command of form simply increases and it's always been very high. It's a work that should make you proud and, once again, this simply adds a dimension to your already startlingly wide achievements and bears witness to your love of poetry which I've always marveled at, though I love it too but have never taken the chances, I think, that you have, as I have always lacked some confidence. Thanks again - alliteration and stress can do remarkable things in the right hands. I said "wow" when I finished it. It really startled me and, as the actress said to the Bishop, pleasured me greatly.