The Kartvelologist

The Kartvelologist” is a bilingual (Georgian and English) peer-reviewed, academic journal, covering all spheres of Kartvelological scholarship. Along with introducing scholarly novelties in Georgian Studies, it aims at popularization of essays of Georgian researchers on the international level and diffusion of foreign Kartvelological scholarship in Georgian scholarly circles.

“The Kartvelologist” issues both in printed and electronic form. In 1993-2009 it came out only in printed form (#1-15). The publisher is the “Centre for Kartvelian Studies” (TSU), financially supported by the “Fund of the Kartvelological School”. In 2011-2013 the journal is financed by Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation.



 The traditional section of our journal “Georgian Literature in English Translations” might seem peculiar in the present issue. It features the Prologue of MPS in all English language translations to date. These are by Marjory Wardrop, done at the turn of the 19th-20th c. (the text is taken from the 1912 London edition (The Royal Asiatic Society); Venera Urushadze (first issue 1968; the text is printed according to the author’s revised edition (Tbilisi: Sabchota Sakartvelo, 1986); Katharine Vivian (London: The Folio Society, 1977); Robert Stevenson (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1977). The Georgian text is printed according to the edition of the Commission for the Establishment of the Academic Text of MPS (Tbilisi: Metsniereba, 1988).

What is the publication of the Georgian text with the four parallel translations due to?

MPS is the peak of Medieval Georgian literary and socio-political thought. The poem clearly echoes the progress of European Christian thought from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. This process of social thinking is reflected in MPS not only in its artistic system but in its theoretical-discursive form as well – mainly in the Prologue. This fact imparts special significance to this section of the poem. Though Rustvali’s language of the Prologue is plain Georgian; with its theological-philosophical connotations it differs essentially from modern Georgian philosophical definitions. The Prologue conceptions of MPS on the Creation by the Supreme Being,  definition of spirit and perspective of motion, man’s moral and physical virtues, the essence of poetry and love with the forms of its expression; as well as on the twelfth-century Georgian royal court and the poet’s  relation to, the provenance of the plot of the poem and the principal manifestation of the emotional activity of the characters – are formulated by the poet using the philosophical-theological and scholastic-mystic thought definitions of his time. The conceptions found in the Prologue of MPS rest firmly on biblical – largely New Testament – theology, on the one hand, and Greek philosophy of the Classical and Hellenistic periods, namely Plato, Aristotle and Dionysius the Areopagite, on the other. Gaining insight into the essence of these unique conceptions of medieval philosophical-theological thought forms an actual question of present-day Rustaveli studies.

The interest taken in this problem, and in general in MPS as a whole, by European intellectual circles, in particular medieval and Renaisance researchers, clearly taking shape in recent decades, calls for the presentation of the text of MPS, and primarily its theoretical conceptions for the non-Georgian readers. None of the translations known to date can shoulder this mission.

This is the primary reason for our decision to supply the English-language reader with all the translations of the Prologue. This attempt has naturally another no less important purpose: parallel observation of the four translations will clearly reveal the poetic merits of each of them.

The desire to render Rustaveli in another language comes across numerous difficulties. Take, for that matter the title of the poem. In Wardrop’s translation it is The Man in the Panther’s Skin, in Urushadze’s  The Knight in the Panther’s Skin, in Vivian’s The Knight in Panther Skin, in Stevenson’s The Lord in the Panther-skin. Of the nuances that differentiate these titles, I shall draw attention to only one Man, Knight and Lord are accepted interpretations for a natural perception of the Georgian –osan suffix (Vepkhistqaosani) in English. All these titles are more or less contradictory. An exact, though literarily hardly acceptable, rendering would be “one who wears a panther’s skin” or more precisely “wearer of a panther’s skin”. My touching on the rendering in English of the title of Rustaveli’s poem is due to the present subsection bearing the title The Man in the Panther Skin, which seems to me a modern contamination of the versions of English translations of the poem.


The Editor

keywords:Rustaveli, The Man in the Panther Skin Category: GEORGIAN LITERATURE IN ENGLISH TRANSLATION Authors: SHOTA RUSTAVELI