The Literature of Georgia: A History

Overview

This is the first comprehensive and objective history of the literature of Georgia to be written in any language. The literature is revealed to be unique among that of the former Russian empire in its combination of quality and length of literary tradition. Beginning with the first, overwhelmingly religious texts of the fifth century, Donald Rayfield charts the development of Georgian literature under Byzantine tutelage to the 'golden age' of medieval literature, which culminated in Rustaveli's great poetic work ...
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The Literature of Georgia: A History

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Overview

This is the first comprehensive and objective history of the literature of Georgia to be written in any language. The literature is revealed to be unique among that of the former Russian empire in its combination of quality and length of literary tradition. Beginning with the first, overwhelmingly religious texts of the fifth century, Donald Rayfield charts the development of Georgian literature under Byzantine tutelage to the 'golden age' of medieval literature, which culminated in Rustaveli's great poetic work The Knight in the Panther's Skin. The second half of the work deals with the diverse literature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Early thirteenth-century Georgian had as many speakers and readers as English in Shakespeare's day, and medieval Georgian literature is important in terms of world cultural history, representing a bridge between classical and oriental worlds. Donald Rayfield analyses the literature in the context of Greek, Persian, and Russian influences, and presents its hitherto overlooked, rich and unique artistry. In 1225 the Mongols broke up the Georgian state and crippled its culture: Rayfield describes the dormancy of literature until an eighteenth-century Renaissance, and the subsequent flourishing artistry of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when, under the auspices of symbolism and futurism, Georgian poetry and prose achieved real originality. The world-class poetry of Vazha Pshavela, Galaktion Tabidze, and Paolo Iashvili is discussed here, as are the Soviet period novelists Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, Grigol Robakidze, and Mikheil Javakhishvili, writer of the much acclaimed Kvachi Kvachantiradze. The History ends with a study of living writers, the novelists Otar Chiladze and Chabua Amirejibi, and poets such as Ana Kalandadze and Lia Sturua. A major contribution to an area of growing interest, this concise but thorough history combines clarity and accessibility for the non-specialist, with a wide breadth of cultu
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Editorial Reviews

Choice
...new material on contemporary Georgian literature; a map of Georgia and its historical regions; updated and shortened footnotes...
From the Publisher
'The present volume will long serve both interested amateurs and professional scholars of Georgian...furnishing them with both hours of pleasurable reading and many thought-provoking in-sights.' - Bulletin of SOAS
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700711635
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 8/16/2000
  • Series: Caucasus World Ser.
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Queen Mary and Westfield College, London
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Table of Contents

Map of historical regions of Georgia 8
Preface 9
Preface to the Second Edition 14
Transliteration of the Georgian alphabet 15
Pt. I The Making of the Classical Age: The Fifth to the Eleventh Centuries: Asceticism & Byzantium
1 Laying the foundation 19
2 Lyrical poetry: hymnography 27
3 Original prose: from homilies to hagiography 40
4 The Lives of the Fathers: Serapion Zarzmeli, Grigol Khandzteli 50
5 Chronicles: the 'Conversion' and 'Life' of Georgia 56
6 The dawn of secular literature: Balahvar and Iodasap 63
Pt. II The Golden Age, the Fall & the Resurrection: The Twelfth to the Eighteenth Centuries: Court & Courtly Love
7 Prose romance: Rustaveli's precursors 69
8 Rustaveli and The Knight in the Panther Skin 76
9 Religious literature of the Golden Age 87
10 The later chronicles 91
11 Rebuilding on a tabula rasa 96
12 The authorial persona: King Teimuraz I 102
13 Kings and enlightenment 107
14 Three great poets: Guramishvili, Sayat-Nova and Besiki 115
15 The last gasps of the eighteenth century 126
Pt. III Romantic & Civic Literatur: The Nineteenth Century: Russian Tutelage
16 Exiled royalty: the Bagration writers 131
17 Romantic poets: Chavchavadze, the Orbelianis, Baratashvili 138
18 The birth of modern prose and drama 150
19 The luminaries: Ilia Chavchavadze and Akaki Tsereteli 159
20 Lesser luminaries: populists and pedagogues 169
21 Melodrama, revolt and commercial literature 175
Pt. IV The Rediscovery of Roots: 1880-1914: Vazha-Pshavela & Heroic Folk Poetry
22 Vazha-Pshavela 187
23 Folk poetry and its relevance to literature 196
Pt. V The Age of Internationalism: The Twentieth Century: The Dashing of Hope
24 Two theatres: the political arena and drama 211
25 Narrative prose and Mikheil Javakhishvili 216
26 Dreaming poets: Grishashvili, Robakidze and the Blue Horns 227
27 Mythmakers under Socialism: Shanshiashvili, Konstantine Gamsakhurdia 245
28 The poetry of Galaktion Tabidze, Giorgi Leonidze and Simon Chikovani 251
29 Beria's Holocaust 261
30 Literature after the Great Terror 271
31 From thaw to deluge 279
Notes 293
Bibliography 303
Index 311
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