Click to go to One World Journeys
HomeHistoryCultureTravelEnvironmentAbout UsSponsors
Culture
Literature

 
Cultural Overview
 
Food & Wine
 
Ethnic Groups & Religion
 
Music

LITERATURE
 
Art & Architecture

Epson
 

 



©2000 DEAN CONGER/CORBIS
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

With its own written language dating back some 2000 years, and a folkloric tradition older still, Georgia's literary voice is ancient and profound. Its earliest known works, such as the legend of Amirani from the third century B.C., show evidence of still more ancient traditions. The first demonstrably Georgian work of literature was "The Martyrdom of Saint Shushanik," attributed to Jacob Tsurtaveli and dating from about 470, one of the earliest examples of the unique Georgian script.

Easily the most celebrated of Georgia's poets is Shota Rustaveli, an officer in the court of Queen Tamara (1184-1212), whose epic poem "The Knight in the Panther's Skin" is dedicated to his monarch. It's a romantic tale par excellence, foreshadowing the narratives of chivalry and love that characterize the European Renaissance 200 years later. Rustaveli's verses and lessons are still recited with reverence and pride by Georgians today, and the poet occupies a place in the national consciousness akin to Shakespeare's in England or Dante's in Italy.

Throughout the complex period of the second millennium, when Georgia's borders and sovereignty was buffeted by Arab, Turk, Persian, Russian and Mongol invasion, native literacy flowered only to wither again and again. Ironically, it was in the 19th century - when Georgia's political body was entirely absorbed within Russia - that a Georgian literature again found its voice. Poets turned political as Alexander Chavcavadze and Grigol Orbeliani turned their love of their homeland into calls to action. The century's classic was "Twilight on Mtatsminda" by Nikoloz Baratashvili (1818-1845).

With independence early in the 20th century, a group of symbolist poets called the "Blue Horn" movement was founded in 1916, but eventually suppressed by the Bolsheviks. The fate of many of their stars was unfortunate: Glaktion Tabidze committed suicide in 1959, and Titian Tabidze was executed in the great purge of 1937. Still their influence kept the Georgian voice alive through its darkest hours.

Today there is once again an eruption of creativity in poetry, literature and song. Even the tradition of the bard of Georgia survives through the Rustaveli Theater Company, whose director Robert Sturua has led it to international acclaim with Richard III in England and King Lear in New York. Now their productions of avant-garde as well as classic playwrights continue to bring the Georgian voice to the world stage as the next millennium unfolds.


© 2000-2 FusionSpark Media, Inc. One World Journeys. All rights reserved worldwide. None of the images or content on this web site may be copied or distributed without prior written permission