The Literature of Georgia: A History by Donald Rayfield Review by: Kevin Tuite The Modern Language Review, Vol. 93, No.

2 (Apr., 1998), pp. 601-602 Published by: Modern Humanities Research Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3735484 . Accessed: 23/07/2013 10:22
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MLR. from the immortal Rustaveli on down. I994). corresponding to major periods in Georgian literature: the Classical Age (fifth-eleventh centuries). 270). survived the holocaust.57 on Tue.2. and it is an appropriate choice: the mountaineer poet Vazha-Pshavela is indeed. 'qualitatively of a greater magnitude than any other Georgian writer' (p. The final chapter discusses some writers of the I980s and I990s. The first three parts. No doubt Chikovani is highly original. but as is the case with many Georgian poets.In commending The Literature to the readership of this journal I want to emphasize that of Georgia will work be of value not only to those who have no access to the vast Rayfield's Georgian-language critical and philological corpus but also to those who do. I would hesitate to characterize the Futuristwriter Simon Chikovani as 'the most original Georgian poet of the century' (p. 1998 6o0I A History. I had been waiting for this book for quite some time. father of the late Georgian president. with Jaba Ioseliani.Three Poems (Tbilisi: Ganatleba) ). by copious and finely-done translations. Of the individual d'etre compelling reading. Cikovani)' Bedi Kartlisa. which reminded Rayfield of Khlebnikov. Donald Rayfield is eminently qualified to introduce the general English-readingpublic to Georgian literature. Revuede Kartvelologie. provide an excellent orientation to both beginning readers and those already starting into the vast body of medieval Georgian writing. Rayfield was one of the first researchersto gain access to recently declassified Soviet archives on the I937 show trials of Georgian writers stage-managed by Beria. and my own An FolkPoetry of Georgian Anthology (London and Toronto: Associated University Presses.3. and in itself sufficientraison writers treated by Rayfield. who would take occasional breaksfrom thuggery and power-broking to write. He has a solid knowledge of both Georgian and Russian. the twentieth century. I was especially pleased with the appreciation of Galaktion Tabidze. including the openly recalcitrant Konstantine Gamsakhurdia. 344-52. as Rayfield writes. the Romantic period (nineteenth century). Part iv is the only one centred around an individual writer. ?35. curiously. The analysis of the trials. Vazha-Pshavela and folk poetry (I880-1914). the great courtly poets of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. many of them coming from Rayfield's fine blank-verse translations of three of Vazha's greatest long poems. and both major and minor figures from the periods leading up to the Soviet conquest of Georgia. 93. 'The work has talent enough to give hope that Jaba Ioseliani will abandon his career as a war-lord and return to literature'.Oxford: Clarendon Press. one important source of inspiration has been the rich oral literature of the Caucasus (see Luigi Magarotto 'Avanguardia e folclore (Osservazioni sulla poesia di S. Chikovani's use of nonsense-syllables and rich assonance. as was that of Vazha-Pshavela. xvi + 36o pp. On the other hand. By DONALDRAYFIELD. concluding. touching on Old Georgian hagiography and hymns. reminds me more of the charms recited by village healers to cure snake-bite or ward off the evil eye. Part v.204. For too long the poetry and prose of the Georgian people of Transcaucasia has been a pleasure garden few foreigners have explored. 40 (1982). is for this book. 292). The Literature of Georgia: I994. dealing with the Soviet and post-Soviet periods (up to the restoration of Shevardnadze in I992). The discussion of Vazha's ouvreis illustrated by numerous extracts rendered into English. writes This content downloaded from 132. and of how some writers. The book contains thirty-one chapters grouped into five parts. 23 Jul 2013 10:22:41 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . and an acquaintance with the primary and secondary literaturethat surpassesthat of even some Georgian specialists. the Golden Age and its aftermath (twelfth-eighteenth centuries). will be of interest to novices and experts alike. accompanied. published in 1981 (Vazha-Psavela.

. Each volume deals with a specific geographic location. readable style all too rare in scholarly writing. (t' ano-t'at' ano. I987). During the period of the Branickifamily in the eighteenth century several Ed. BialostockieTowarzystwoNaukowe (BialystokAcademic Society). especially in the case of poets noted for their musicality or linguistic pyrotechnics. p'ir-mcinari c' q' ali mknari. To sum up. The only lack worth remarking in TheLiterature was of examples of of Georgia Georgian poetry in the original. While visiting Tbilisi this summer.. and composed in a witty.. Rayfield does not pull his punches. all sections of the book are thoroughly researched. I994-1995.57 on Tue. the names of Georgian writers and the titles of their works are given in both transliteration and in Georgian script..3. The philogogist Vakhushti Kotetishvili collected numerous poems from mountaineers who continue the oral literary forms of their ancestors (see his collection Leksis tkma mc'adisertisa (Tbilisi:Nak'aduli. or of the heady. I54).. who sang of Queen Tamar 'xma-narnari.gasasvebulad gadzvirebula remains on the air. . The Georgians continue to write prose. appended to the text is a bibliography of selected references to primary and secondary sources. and religion. strangely driving! able.gulc'amt'ano. but Rayfield seldom dispenses such comments without justification. and a thorough index of proper names.). + xxxii + I 2 pp. I (Meteor body. curls. either: some readers might wince at his reference to 'the vulgar. Volume xxxv investigates the regions of Bialystok and neighbouring Suwalki to the north. and to compose and consume poetry. and the urban poet Kote Kubaneishvili comments in verse on the news of the day: ic'q'eba t' q'viebis rceba rusuli isev etersi ena. flowing by . I encountered several young writers. Izilpo... Vols XXXV-XL. UNIVERSITE DE MONTREAL KEVIN TUITE Bialostocczyzna.k' avebo. or his assertion that the nineteenth-century prose writer Grigol Rcheulishvili 'bequeathed to Georgian novelists a deplorable formula of carelessly researched history and meretricious romance' (p. One would have liked a transliterated illustration of the hypnotic rhyme schemes of the twelfth-century court poet Grigol I mze-mcinari. he may well have no other choice. rushing water. ver modis nat' keni dakat' o. and the articles examine aspects of history. melodramatic prose of Aleksandre Qazbegi' (p. Bialystok: This content downloaded from 132. + xxxvii xxix + 146 pp... archaeology. xxxvi xxxv + 131 pp. Some final comments on packaging: the book is very attractively bound and typeset. 166). instability. despite the poverty.204. is a quarterlyjournal whose objective is to promote the study of the Bialostocczyzna north-eastern region of Poland. 124 pp..NATOcannotcometo liberate. Now that Ioseliani has been ousted from the Shevardnadze regime. killers.) ). o. momdinari .602 Reviews Rayfield. smiling face | smiling sun.theRussian language Barleyandbranhavegone up in price. sacinari. visible to all. This cultural diversity is reflected in the broad scope of articles in the journal.. cvena. Chakhrukhadze. Bialystok has a rich and chequered history. untouchForelocks. I pp. and the area was a major centre of Polish Jewry..Xi + I64 pp. 23 Jul 2013 10:22:41 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . education.ucxod lavebo... social enquiry. Once againbulletsbeginto fall. and anomie that the post-Soviet period has brought them. culture. .' (of soothing voice. by HENRYKMAJECKIand others. seductive verse of Besiki marebo! momk' versak' arebo . including a few who might well be included in the second edition of Rayfield'sbook. enthralling. .

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