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Inanna Paperback – 3 Aug 1983
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"This is an admirable translation, a great masterpiece of universal literature."--Mircea Eliade"A splendid mutual accomplishment and a great gift ot mythology...."Inanna "is a book to be cherished."--P.L. Travers"In the myth of Inanna, Wolkstein and Kramer give us back the totality of woman, the ruler-wife-lover-redeemer, whom all worshiped and from whom all life flowed. It is a thrilling rediscovery."--Olivier Bernier"Wolkstein has been able to convey in English the rich metaphor, the erotic fullness, and the ritual pacing of these ancient stories....Taken together with the illustrations, historical discussions, and textual commentaries, this book is worth a tower of scholarly tomes....Such a feat is remarkable and rare."--Barre Toelken, Director of Folklore and Ethnic Studies, University of Oregon"I felt shivers of recognition reading these ancient lines that proclaim Inanna's discovery of her prowess....Kramer and Wolkstein make us love their awesome goddess whose stormy complexities have been concealed in cuneiform tablets for thousands of years."--Nor Hall
About the Author
Diane Wolkstein has been teaching, performing, and writing for over thirty-five years. She is the author of numerous award-winning books of folklore, including The Magic Orange Tree, and Other Haitian Folktales and Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer. Known for her meticulous research as well as her great range as a performer, Ms. Wolkstein traveled to Australia three times while preparing this story. She gives workshops on storytelling worldwide and lives in New York City.In Her Own Words...
"I love stories. They give me strength, Inspiration, courage, and great delight. For thirty years I've told stories at the statue of Hans Christian Andersen in Central Park. I love watching the eyes of my audience light up as they enter stories. Stories let us explore the farthest places in the universe and the deepest recesses of the human heart. They present possibilities. They let us try out different emotions and characters. Stories are treasures which last forever.
"I also enjoy gardening, dancing, swimming, painting, and creating stories with music. My daughter, Rachel Zucker, is a poet, photographer, and the mother of a little boy named Moses."
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Top customer reviews
One of this tales is `Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth', written some 5000 years ago.
It is, by any standard, a remarkable text.
Its incantations have the power of a rhythmic cadence.
It has the images: `the agate necklace of fertility', `my vulva, the horn, the Boat of Heaven, is full of eagerness like the young moon. My untilled land lies fallow.'
It has the themes of love and sorrow, of good and evil and of life and death.
It has it symbolism: the descent of Inanna into the underworld. During her journey, she has to strip herself naked. Her body is `turned into a corpse, a piece of rotten meat, and was hung from a hook on the wall.'
It has its dream (of Demuzi) and its superb interpretation.
Diane Wolkstein wrote remarkable `Interpretations of Inanna's stories and Hymns', while Elizabeth Williams-Forte gave perfect explanations of the abundant graphic material.
All in all, this book is a splendid reconstruction of a remarkable tale.
A must for all lovers of world literature.
I have subsequently discovered one or two more stories concerning Inanna, which were not included, but despite this a delightful read.
-The Huluppu-Tree (this is actually part of epic tale "Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Nether World" - which is not discussed in this book)
-Inanna the God of Wisdom
-The courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi (great love story of shepherd Dumuzi - son of Enki - and Inanna)
-The descent of Inanna (Inanna leaves for Underworld)
-The Holy Priestess of Heaven
-Loud Thundering Storm
-The Holy One
-The Lady of the Evening
-The Lady of the Morning
-The Lady who ascends into the Heaven
-The Joy of Sumer: The Sacred Marriage Rite
The important point to mention is that some of the ancient text used in the book had been shortened (hence 4 stars only). Nothing major though, and as the authors are saying in the Notes section of the book, in some cases it was necessary to quicken the dramatic flow of the reading. For example in case of "The Huluppu-Tree" the change was as follows: "When Inanna speaks to Utu and Gilgamesh, she condenses the first section of the Sumerian text of 13 lines into 5 lines as has been done. However beginning from line 14, Inanna retells the story both times line by line in the Sumerian text, until the line `How Inanna wept!". Wolkstein has condensed Inanna's two retellings to Utu and Gilgamesh from 33 or so lines to 19 lines". This change doesn't bother me that much, as the text is easy to read anyway (and I understand why something like this was done) - but it may be a negative point for you. If you want to read a full proper text, you will probably have to buy a different book.
Another important point worth mentioning is that, even though there is a short chapter (in the commentary section of the book) about history and culture of Sumer (12 pages long, written by Kramer), this is not a book about history of Sumer. If you would prefer to read book like that, this one probably won't interests you. The commentary section also includes the history of discovery and decipherment of the "The Descent of Innana" (written by Kramer) and various interpretations of Inanna's stories and hymns (written by Wolkstein) - both of which are quite interesting to read.
Overall, I would say that the book is a nice addition for anybody interested in Sumer and stories/myths that include Inanna - the goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare. It provides you with all major myths and hymns, and various interpretations of them in one easy to read package (just bear in mind that some parts of the original text have been shortened). At the end you have a selected Bibliography (quite good) and "Annotations of the Art" chapter by Elizabeth Williams-Forte -> a good section describing various Sumerian cylinder seals, statues, clay plaques and stele that are actually used in the book (as a small black & white photos inserted between texts).
Definitely recommended for those curious about Inanna or Sumer mythology. It is comprehensive and well-written, not merely a dry history text.
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