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.


In Europe, the sonnet was born during the Renaissance, on the highest stage of poetic culture, which took place in Italy (XIIIc.), France (XVIc.) and England. In Georgian literary thought of the XIX-XXcc, the introduction and establishment of the sonnet was preconditioned by the inclusion of the national poetry into the European literary process.

In Georgian reality the process of introduction and establishment of the sonnet was encouraged by the tendency towards stable verse forms, which was typical of Georgian poetry (iambico, rvuli, mixed, mukhambazi from the East, etc).

The Sonnet as a European stable verse form was first introduced to Georgia two centuries ago. Consequently, the history of its exploration is also quite lengthy. This form was specially studied in essays and explorations by V. Gaprindashvili, G. Mikadze, M. Kikvidze, A. Khintibidze, D. Tukhareli, R. Beridze, G. Buachidze, T. Barbakadze and others.

The advanced and sophisticated standards of the issue were determined by all-union symposia dedicated to the aspects of the theory and history of the sonnet held in 1985 and 1988 in Tbilisi and the proceedings of the First Symposium (“Гармония противоположностей. Аспекты теории и истории сонета“), ТГУ, 1985, in which the articles by Georgian authors were also published.
The genesis of the sonnet in Georgian literature is connected with the first decade of the 19th century. G. Mikadze indicates that the term “sonnet’’ was first employed in Georgia in the textbook of poetics by A. Nikolskoi (1755-1834), “Fundamentals of Oracy”, translated into Georgian no earlier than 1816[5, 135].

Traditionally, the appearance of the first translated sonnet in Georgian poetry was connected with the name of A. Ersitavi who translated six sonnets by A. Mistkevich from Polish in 1836-38. Despite the imperfect nature of the translations, along with other scholars (G. Abashidze, L. Barnaveli), G. Mikadze believed in their great significance. Kikvadze added one more sonnet to the number of sonnets translated by G. Ersitavi: specifically, in 1839, G. Eristavi translated the sonnet by Petrarka “Inauguration” (“sikari", N1, 1852).

In our view, G. Eristavi’s original 14 line verses with 16 and 14 syllables (“N...” and “E…”) reveal resemblance to the form of the sonnet as well as, arguably, to verses by G. Orbeliani: “Heeh, Iveria”, and “His name to be disdained”.

The verse by Kirile Lortkopanidze “To the Guiding Star” (“Tsiskari”, 1859, N7) written in a 14 syllable verse, (5/4/5), employs the quatrains, abab ababa cdc ede rhymes and reveals the romantic attitude and poetic influence of Baratashvili.

We propose that in the end of the 50s of the XIXc (1859), an original sonnet was already published in Georgian[2, pp.55].

From the 80s of 19th century the term sonnet was more frequently mentioned in Georgian literary critique and journals. In 1882, the poem translated by A. Purtseladze from Russian, called “A Sonnet“ was published in the journal “Imedi” (and not in “Iveria” as indicated in the scholarly literature dedicated to the issue).

The term sonnet as well as “Sonnet from Dante” was mentioned in the newspaper “Droeba” (1884, 18 March, N 56, p.1) announcing two lectures to be delivered by N. Gulak about “The Man in the Panther Skin”.

The same term was also mentioned in the letter by I. Kavteli (Jajanashvili) in the article published in the Newspaper “Theatre”, (1886, N 18-19, p. 199), where the author enumerated the types of lyrical poetry and mentioned “the sonnet” amongst them.

In the end of the 19th century, in 1897, the journal “Mtksemsi” published the first translation of Shakespeare’s 66th sonnet, signed by “Kuji” (Sh. Dadiani).

The 19th century was a preparatory period for the introduction of the sonnet into Georgian poetry. This stable verse form was established in Georgian literature in the first decade of the 19th century.

Four sonnets published by Kote Makashvili in 1909 are mostly ten-syllable (5/5). Due to this, as indicated by G. Mikadze, sonnets were written in Georgian employing the same meter (M. Gobechia, I. Grishahsvili, T. Tabidze).

I think that in the process of the introduction and establishment of the sonnet in Georgia, Russian Symbolic poetry (K. Balmont, V. Brussov, V. Ivanov, M. Voloshin, P. Sologub) played as great a part as French Poetry and the sonnets by Acmeists (A. Akhmatova, S. Gorodetski, O. Mandelshtam). The book of sonnets by I. Severianin “Medallions” was well-known to Georgian Symbolists.

Georgian theoreticians interested in the sonnet (G. Robakidze, V. Gaprindashvili), along with foreign scholars, compared its structure and the refinement of its form to Gothic architecture, which, in its turn, finds its parallel in Thomas Aquinas’ philosophy [4, p.259].

Parallelism of notions and literary images existing in the history of philosophy and art, coincidence of ideals of the epoch of Renaissance in various branches of art makes it possible, while exploring the issues of the theory of the sonnet, to search for parallels in the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, Neo-Platonism, symbolism of figures, form of the sonata and Gothic architecture.

The composition of the sonnet finds some analogy with the form of the sonata widely spread in music, which was born in Europe in the second half of the 16th century and beginning of the 17th century. The established form of the sonata is observed in Johann Sebastian Bach’s music although it reached the highest point with the so-called “Viennese classics” (Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven). The first part of a classic sonata is called exposition (thesis), the second part is development (antithesis) and the third part is called recapitulation (synthesis). It is probably natural that the periods of the revival and consequently, the conception of the sonnet in European poetry and musical art coincide with each other.
The birth of the sonnet in the 13th century Italian poetry was partly determined by the Philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, in which Plato’s “Theory of Ideas” was completed in the redaction of Aristotle. Thomas Aquinas’ philosophy was also influenced by the doctrine of Neo-Platonism and the manifestation of the ideal of the epoch - the harmony between the faith and ratio - became its main principle. According to the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, everything has its own predetermined place in the world created by God and the degree of their rationality is determined by the degree of their subjection to the will of God.

I think that the significance of the mystical meaning of the secret “14” in the sonnet can be explained by taking into account the scholastic philosophy and Neo-Platonism doctrine. The figure 14 can be a symbolic manifestation of mankind’s history, fourteen generations from Abraham to David, fourteen generations from King David to the Babylon exile and fourteen generations from that moment to the birth of Christ: “Thus, there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah” (Mat. 1, 17)
In spite of strictly determined rules, certain modifications of the sonnet still appeared in different times and countries: tagged sonnet (2 quatrains+ 3 tercets), a sonnet with coda (15 lines), a double sonnet (4 quatrains+ 4 tercets), a headless sonnet (a quatrain + 2 tercets), a semi-sonnet (1 quatrain +1 tercet), an overturned sonnet (1 tercet+2 quatrains), generally rhymed, white, unrhymed, lame sonnet (in the latter the last line of the quatrain is shortened) and so on.

The modification of the sonnet acquired a special artistic and semantic significance in the works by Tsisperkantselebi who perceived the sonnet as combining both an Apollonic form (a canonical sonnet) reflecting the ideals of the Renaissance and a Dionysus verse, typical of the symbolic poetry (non-canonical verse).

A significant orientation of New Art to the selected items and its lack of generalization found the strongest reflection in Tsisperkanstelebi’s works and they were the first to establish the sonnet as an original and distinctively distinguished poetic form into Georgian literature. As is known, A. Jorjadze, together with K. Abashidze, felt the significance of innovative literary and imagery searches for Georgian literature and whole heartily greeted their appearance.

While analyzing the lecture delivered by G. Robakidze, A.Jorjadze singled out the issue of the increasing controversy between irrational and rational parts of cognition in modern poetry and, considering the theory of the utilitarian purport of art, openly supported the representatives of New Art.

G. Kikodze emphasised that new times have brought the necessity of establishment of new forms: “A great historic epoch differs from the ordinary one by giving birth to abundance of new forms and ideas” [6, p. 207].

Georgian thinkers of the first decade of the XX c realized that “the political revival of the nations starts with the recognition of cultural diversity”[7, p. 33] and “that national renewal should develop through culture”[6]. Georgian thought of the first decade of the XX c. was greatly influenced by Nietzsche’s theory of Allogism, reflected in a peculiar way both in the works of Georgian poets and theoreticians. In this respect, as well as the lecture delivered by Robakidze about Nietzsche in 1911, the first philosophical letter by K. Kapaneli“ Leitmotifs of Nietzscheism” together with the book of the same author “Suffering and Creativity” (Tiflis, 1917), proved to be most significant. The main motif of the world outlook maintained by K. Kapaneli, referred to by the author as organotropism, is an explanation of all the sides and aspects of culture and existence by their need for organic and biological adaptation with the environment. From this standpoint Kapaneli considered Georgian national character and found Nietzschean motifs in the former’s spiritual complexity. One of the examples of the attitude Georgian poets held towards Nietzsche is a sonnet by K.Gamsakhurdia “To Friedrich Nietzsche” (1921).

The form of the sonnet appeared to be “a structure acquired by intuitive cognition” (E. Kassirer), which would reveal a distinct reflection of the sensual world through its rationality and philosophical abstraction.

We believe that the sonnet by G. Robakidze “The Great Midday” is inspired by the plot and literary and artistic structures of the famous eclogue by Malarme “The Midday of Faun”. The semantic units: karampili (carnation), kalmasi (collection of wheat on the threshing-floor), kalaso (an oak tree hardened by water), chkuri (jealousy), raxsi (reddish-black horse) are oriental literary-emotive symbols representing a symbolic picture of the world. In this case the semantic structure of the text reflecting the subjective disposition of the poet is created by means of transformations of a natural language.

The sonnet “To the French Poet” presents an act of literary creativity. This sonnet is dedicated to Baudelaire who put the idea through to the reader not via explicit reference but by means of subtle reference poetics. The quatrains of Robakidze’s sonnet, like the “French Poet” Baudelaire’s “Free Sonnets”, do not observe a four-time rhythm.

In 1918-1921 sonnets by Robakidze “Camel” and “Frog” were written and included in the author’s novel “The Snake’s Skin”. In these sonnets the author presents the quatrains only by adjectives, thus omitting verbs. V. Gaprindashvili noticed that Robakidze had created a new form of the sonnet, in which each line finishes with a full stop. Each new line is a complete structure without the conjunction “and”. The “clue” to the sonnet in “The Frog” is based on the apocryphal version of psalm N150 and deepens symbolic understanding of the frog’s literary image.

Repetition occupies a significant function in Robakidze’s sonnets. If the rules of structuring sonnets forbid repetition of words, in the “Sonnet of Prayer” Robakidze charges repetition as a stylistic means with an expressive function and associates it with ancient folk exorcisms and psalms. The sonnet also demonstrates violation of quatrain rhyme: abab abba.

In “Sonnet Medallions” G. Robakidze depicts the creative portraits of his friends, poets, precisely and while doing so, employs both ways of creation of the metaphor: logical–discursive as well as lingvo-mythological (E. Kassirer).

The sonnet “Londa the Amazon” was referred to by the author as the sonnet overflowing the banks. The bank is the limit of the 14 syllabic sonnet which is observed only in 8 lines making the remaining 6 lines - 18 and 16 syllabic - correspondingly. The change in this sonnet was made only the meter without violating the rhythm of the verse.

The profile of G. Robakidze, the writer of the sonnet and the theoretician of the verse, was better elucidated during the debate regarding the sonnet in 1918 on the pages of the newspapers “Sakartvelo” N211, 214, 221) and “Sakhalkho Sakme” (N379, 385), as well as in “Saiatnova” by I. Grishashvili, in the footnotes of page 68, which refers to the remark about the form of the sonnet. In the course of these debates the following issues were discussed: a) G. Robakidze’s approach towards the interchange of two- and three-syllable rhymes; This strategy was used in his sonnet “Camel”; b) 14-syllabic (5/4/5) meter as the sonnet meter was established in Georgian poetry; c) repetition of words in the sonnet was recognized as a special function of the sonnet. S. Pasahalishvili and T. Tabidze joined in the debates later. S. Pashalishvili saw the merit of the polemical letters in expressing Robakidze’s ideas regarding the peculiarities of rhythmic melody of the Georgian word and rhyme words.

T. Tabidze acknowledged Tsisperkantselebi to be the pioneers introducing the first fixed sonnet in Georgia, thus, deciding one of the principle debatable issues in favour of them. In addition, Tabidze, who himself was one of the first theoreticians of the sonnet in Georgia, suggested the precise formulation of the sonnet modifications: each modified sonnet was a deliberate diversion from the norm and already fixed rules. “The sonnet is the deliberate self-definition”, wrote the poet.

Galaktion Tabidze attached a great importance to the establishment of this new versification form in his poetry. While discussing the first collection of poems (1914), Galaktion Tabidze wrote that “there was a sonnet in the book”. The sonnet he referred to was “Laura”, inspired by Petrarca’s sonnets. Galaktion wrote 14 syllabic (5/4/5) sonnets as well as 10-syllabic ones (5/5) (“Brocade”, “At the Opera Theatre”). Among the modified sonnets the following sonnets must be mentioned: a cut sonnet “Among countless flags”, and a hetero-syllabic sonnet “The land has appeared”. The repetition of words and phrases plays a significant part in G. Tabidze’s sonnet “An inscription on Anatol Franc’s portrait”. The poet suggests employing the term samaiani (with three) instead of tercet.

The defining motif of Terenti Graneli’s poetry - irrational, intuitive, mystical feeling of Death and fear of Life – is the main basis for the composition and plot of his sonnets. Graneli’s sonnet “Secret Greeting to the Consumptive Bell Tower” was highly praised by art critics of the period (K. Gamsakhurdia, V. Gaprindashvili) for employing sophisticated technique of writing sonnets.

Tsisperkantselebi managed to match the form of the sonnet to the meaning of New Poetry, to reveal fatal isolation and gap between the real and the unreal as well as a spiritual tragedy of a person. Georgian symbolists successfully employed a classical form of the canonical sonnet to manifest the internal disharmony of the lyrical hero and to reveal new poetic feelings in an original way. Like French and Russian symbolists, Georgian poets also addressed modified, non-canonical forms of this stable verse form. The following sonnets which have secured their places among Georgian sonnets, were written according to the above-discussed principles: “Deaf Sonnet”, “Overturned Sonnet”, “The Sonnet which overflowed the banks”, and so on.

Later Georgian literary critics heavily criticized the insistent demand of Tsisperkantselebi to establish the 14 syllabic meter in the Sonnet.
Under the leadership of G. Robakidze, Tsipserkantselebi made an attempt to destroy limits of the genre and confirmed this principle by means of their literary and artistic images. In this respect, “Sonnet in Prose” by Tsirekidze and “Nature Morte” by S. Kldiashvili deserve our special attention. They were subjects of many interesting analyses in Georgian versification studies. Special debates were provoked by the issue of their genre (G. Mikadze, A.Khintibidze, T. Tevzadze, L. Avaliani): In my opinion, the victory of the Prose rhythm over the Verse rhythm and, correspondingly, the preference of syntactic constructions prose over the metric units clearly indicate that both samples-experiments belong to prose more than to poetry and thus, they cannot be referred to the category of modified sonnets.

The popularity of the sonnet in Georgian literature gradually declined in the second half of the 20s of the 20th century. It was not popular for about 50 years and only since the 70s has it started its revival like Phoenix (V. Trediakovski), which is intrinsic to this poem. The revival of the interest towards the sonnet after the infatuation with free verse, as indicated by contemporary theoreticians (M. Gasparov), could have been the result of the Tidal wave of forms, natural longing for replacement. On the other hand, I believe, that the reason for this could have been the obtaining of relative freedom from the creative principles of Socialist realism, which happened in Georgian reality in the 70s. Only since that period were the writers able to return to their principle duty of writing and stop being only just writers [3. P139].

As is known, in the 20s of the 20th century the Georgian reality witnessed the fight against pure poetry and aristocratic forms.
The rule of the literary method of the Socialist realism changed the poets’ attitude towards the verse forms and, as any attention paid to the form of the verse was classed as formalism and was frequently punished, literature witnessed fewer and fewer purely formal exercises. The principle task of the poetry of the period was to express civic motifs and employ plain language to make poetry comprehensible for large masses of people.

In spite of all this, sonnets could still be found in Georgia in the poetry of the 40s. For instance, Grigol Abashidze included two sonnets in his poem “Birth of Amirani”. At one time G. Abashidze was accused of being infatuated by symbolism and was strongly criticized for the provocative content of the sonnets as well as of his poetry. G. Abashidze also wrote two more independent sonnets: “In the Old Temple” and “Seven Fortress defenders”. In addition, the author included a ten-syllabic sonnet in his vast poem–ode “The Song of Steel”. The sonnets by G. Abashidze are canonical, either ten-syllabic (5/5) or 14 syllabic (5/4/5).

In the 80s G. Abashidze resorted to the sonnets again, this time as a translator and rendered Pier Ronsar’s poems into Georgian. In 1940 Ioseb Ninoshvili wrote a famous “Overturned sonnet to Shah – Abbas”, where the second line of the last quatrain is lame: instead of 14 syllables, it contains 10 syllables. The sonnets “Pompey Bridge” and “At Arsen’s Grave” also belong to Noneshvili.

At the end of the 50s, after the rehabilitation of Tsisperkantselebi, the classical form of the sonnet acquired a new content in the works of Mirian Abuladze, Khariton Vardoshvili, Tamaz Chkhenkeli, and, especially, in the works of Murman Lebanidze, where the sonnet acquired a new form.

Jemal Injia published sonnets in the 60s and in 1988 he published a one-syllable sonnet “A Stream in the Forest” with the remark: “the thinnest sonnet”. It is worth noting that the sonnet is canonical and it’s strophic and rhyme systems, except for the meter, are fixed.
The revival of the liberation movement in Georgia in the 80s of the XX century, tragic events of April 9 and the new phase in the struggle for independence loaded this stable poetic form with a new content. The fusion of the sublime and tragic with the beautiful inspired Georgian poets to look at the traditional form of the sonnet from a new perspective. The fact that the leaders of the national movement Zviad Gamsakhurdia and Merab Kostava composed sonnets is also remarkable and worth mentioning.

The collection of verses by Gamsakhurdia’ “Engagement of the Moon” included three sonnets: “Dedication”, “Your smile – Sonnet to Manana” and “Heaven” (from the cycle “Terenti Graneli”).

Merab Kostava’s collection of poems (1990) includes two sonnets: “A story” and “Kokhtagora”. The former does not possess a fixed form (4+3+3+4) and the meter is hetero-syllabic. The word ramdeni (How many) repeats in tercets five times which corresponds to the title of the sonnet.

In the sonnets by Otar Chelidze a different variation of the ten syllabic sonnets is manifested: 3/3/4/. The sonnet by Chelidze “Those who survived” is based on the ten–syllabic sonnet and contains 15 lines. The poet refers to this sonnet as “odd-numbered” as there is one extra line there (4+4+4+3). The sonnet “Dedicated to N” is classed by the author as “ugly” as it is non-fixed and is characterised by an original rhyming system: abab, cde, dce, abab. The ballad by Otar Chelidze “A tiger Cub and an Orphan Girl” also contains 8 syllabic meter (2/4/2).

Poet Imeri Khreveli published a collection of palindromes with an included sonnet -palindrome “He did not Bring Happiness”.

In the 40-90s of the XX century the preference of European stable verse forms can be explained by the desire to revive Georgian poetry and ensure its organic unity with the World poetry. In the 60-70s poets, infatuated by the free verse, unexpectedly turned to stable verse forms. This can be classed as a harbinger of the crisis as well as the desire to find the third way.

The impressive number of non-fixed sonnets in Georgian poetry of the 40-90s can be explained by the devotion to the literary legacy of the 10s and 20s of the XX century as well as by the desire to acquire and revise classical varieties of sonnets and to make them more varied.

In Georgian poetry of the 80s and 90s the number of sonnet writers significantly increased. Prominent poets Lia Sturua, Geno Kalandia and Lado Seidishvili published collections of sonnets.

As noticed in the literature dedicated to the issue, Garland of Sonnets belongs to the most complex types of versification and although its first samples date back to Italy (the 13th century), its canonization occurred later - in the 17th-18th cc. The first Garland of Sonnets was written in Georgian by Anzor Salukvadze: The Garland of Sonnets brought to the Grave of the Unknown Soldier (“Literaturuli Sakartvelo”, 1975, 9. IX). In the 70s Lado Seidishvili’s garland of sonnets “Races of the Centaurs” was published (“Chorokhi” 1975, № 4). In the 80s the garlands of sonnets were also published by O. Chelidze (“The Garland of Sonnets to my Offspring”, N. Abesadze (“Silence on the Top of the Mountain”), J. Injia (“The Requiem”, “The Milky Way”, “War by Silence or the Monologue of Terenti Graneli”), D. Mchedluri (“The Requiem”), J.Vekua (“Tragedy of Georgia”).

Frequent appearance of the Garlands of Sonnets in Georgian literature suggests an increasing interest for mastering sophisticated poetic techniques. In addition, Garlands of Sonnets was accepted by Georgian poets as the most convenient form for the manifestation of tragic feelings.

In spite of the spread of the sonnet, there is no evidence of Garlands of Sonnets in Georgia in the 10s and 20s of the 20th century. The sonnets developed in cycles, in the 10s and 20s as well as 80-90s of the 20th century (A. Abasheli, V. Gaprindashvili, L.Seidishvili, G.Kalandia, J. Ajiashvili, J. Injia).

The remarkable similarity between the contemporary period and cultural and social life of the 10s and 20s of the 20th century has been frequently indicated: painful delving into the roots of the national character and cognition, the desire of abstraction from specific events, the desire to find and explain the reasons for our happiness and unhappiness.

The sonnet in the works of the 80s and 90s of the 19th century is still perceived as the symbol, poetic image and embodiment of the eternal, best and stable.

By expressing a particular interest towards the sonnet, 20th century Georgian poetry managed to gap the lack of contact with the unwilling, forced and long-lasting isolation from European literature. This interest is vehemently expressed due to the fact that, intuitively, the sonnet was considered to be one of the best forms of “national literary self-expression”.

While exploring Georgian character, contemporary Georgian philosophers and literary critics (Z. Kakabadze, M. Mamardashvili, G. Asatinai, etc.) emphasized that “Georgian aesthetic nature…reveals remarkable tendency towards the corresponding forms of Renaissance ideals and self-expression”[1, p. 472].

I believe that in the 80s and 90s of the 20th century, an increasing interest towards the sonnet embodied Georgian poets’ longing for embedding spiritual experience and search for the Renaissance ideals, harmony, kindness, beauty and approximation to the truth.

1. Asatiani G., At the beginning. The poets of the Century. Tb. 1988 (in Georgian).
2. Barbakadze T., Sonnet in Georgia, “Universal”, Tb. 2008 (in Georgian).
3. Барт Р., Избранные работы. Семиотика. Поэтика, М. 1989 (in Russian).
4. Kakabadze Z., Art, Philosophy, Life, Tb. 1979 (in Georgian).
5. Mikadze G., “Towards the Georgian Sonnet”, Studies from the History of Georgian Poetics. Tb. 1974 (in Georgian).
6. Kikodze G., National Energy, Tb. 1919 (in Georgian).
7. Jorjadze A., Works, Vol. 3, Tif. 1911 (in Georgian).



The process of Europeanisation began in Georgia in the 19th century; basically this process is expressed in the return to the Christian cognition and is promoted by the literary relations established in that period in the country. It was striving for European culture through the Russian culture. This striving creates the examples of identities that provide the basis for Georgian-Russian-European literary relations. Georgian writers are influenced by Russian and European literature but this influence is basically revealed in its form which is adapted to the traditional nature of our literature. The goal of Georgian writers is to transfer to the Georgian ground everything that was significant and prominent in European and Russian literature, and at the same time, was a novelty for Georgian literature. This is a desire to enrich their country, literature and not to act only as the “carriers”.

Georgian public figures of the first half of the 19th century translated from Russian into Georgian the works by Lomonosov, Karamzin, Bestuzhev-Marlinsky, Rileev, Odoevsky, Griboedov, Pushkin, Lermontov and others; the translators are famous Georgian writers: Al. Chavchavadze, Gr. Orbeliani, N. Baratashvili, S. Razmadze, M. Tumanishvili, V. Orbeliani, G. Eristavi and others. Due to their activities literary relationships introducing new ideas into Georgian literary thought were established.

It is well known that Al. Chavchavadze would translate from French, Russian and Persian. The poet Al. Chavchavadze, who was closely allied with the Russian Royal court, acquainted himself with European, in particular, with French literature – not with the romance but with the classical one. In those times French classicists and the enlighteners were in the Royal Palace and in the highest echelons in general. Al. Chavchavadze translated from French La Fontaine’s “Fables”, Voltaire’s “Confession”, “Tactics”, the tragedies – “Alzira” and “Zaire”; Racine’s – “Esther”, “Fedra”; Corneille’s “Cinna”; Hugo’s “If I were King”. The poet translated Pushkin and Odoevsky from Russian. Works translated by Al. Chavchavadze are similar to the originals’ content and artistic form. The author always manages to find the related form of a verse. Mention should be made of the following fact: while translating, the poet desires to imitate the original writings and almost creates an original poem whose form, metre or plot are a novelty for the Georgian literature and give rise to the poet’s aesthetic experience (original and not the borrowed one).

It is well known that Al. Chavchavadze’s poem “While Contemplating” is influenced by Voltaire’s “Marquise de Boufflers”. As for “Dear Beloved” – it is the imitation of Zhukovsky’s “Песня (с французского)” (“The Song” from French). But “The Song” is not Zhukovsky’s original verse; it was first published in the journal “Europe’s Bulletin” entitled “На голос Je t'aime tant…” The poet referred to Philippe Francoise Nazar Fabre d'Eglantine’s (a French writer and political figure) verse that was later adapted by J.P. Gara, the president of Paris Conservatoire who in 1802 travelled to St. Petersburg and rose to popularity due to his lyrical songs. In particular, the lyrical song “Je t'aime tante...” was written down in his sketch-book by Pushkin who was considered its author for a long time. The same lyrical song appeared to be rewritten by Ryleev along with Zhukovsky’s “Song”. Zhukovsky’s poem follows not Gara’s lyrical song that consists of only 24 lines, but d'Eglantine’s 40-line verse; as for Al.Chavchavadze’s “Dear Beloved”, it is the translation not of Zhukovsky’s and d'Eglantine’s poems but of Gara’s lyrical song. That is how a French plot, being almost analogous to the plot of Oriental amorous poetry, ends up in a Georgian poem; and the Georgian translator endeavours to introduce those emotions (familiar and acceptable to him) into the Georgian poetry – skipping the Russian translation but still being under the influence of the French-Russian-Georgian relations. The following verses were also translated from French: “You are a Daffodil, fresh”, “To the Drunken Man” – whose author is currently unknown and “Imitating Anacreon” that was translated into French from Greek.

Al. Chavchavadze’s translations from Russian introduce both comparatively new topics and novelties into versification. The poet translated the verse entitled “Colour Dark, Colour Black” and had to find a new measure and meter for a Russian verse; as for Pushkin’s “Petre Bagrationi” and “The Bronze Horseman”, the translator had to apply the so-called blank verse, a verse without a rhyme that had been unacceptable for the Georgian poetry of the previous epoch (the Renaissance).

European-Russian-Georgian relations expressed in borrowing, imitating and copying are characteristic of the whole 19th century Georgian writing (and not only of Georgian). The Russian writing imitates both the European and the Georgian. Gr. Orbeliani’s “The Toast” together with V. Zhukovsky’s “A Singer in the Camp of Russian Warriors” are prominent examples of such relations. It has been well documented that while writing “The Toast”, Gr. Orbeliani was greatly interested in V. Zhukovsky’s “Singer”. Currently it is a proven fact that V. Zhukovsky’s “Singer” influenced Gr. Orbeliani’s poem to a certain extent – and influenced its form and its composition as well as its topic and content. It should also be noted that Zhukovsky’s Romance is not an absolutely original piece of writing. It was influenced by the English writer Thomas Grays’s “The Bard”. Al. Khakhanashvili was the first Georgian scholar to specify this similarity [2, p.187]. The above mentioned example of influence evidences how the structure of a plotless romance transfers from European to Russian literature and later – to the Georgian one. As for the topic of all the three writings, all of them are of a patriotic character and are similar to one another; but each poet processes a similar content and architectonics in a unique way; hence, both Zhukovsky’s Romance and Gr. Orbeliani’s “The Toast” should be considered absolutely original pieces of writing. The authors have absolutely different poetic imagination, their strivings and pain are deep and are based on national grounds. Zhukovsky’s talking about himself can be applied to both writers – Gr. Orbeliani and Zhukovsky – “Almost all my works are borrowed or imitate other works – but still all of them are mine”[1, p. 68].

It should be mentioned that one of the first verses of Gr. Orbeliani’s “Confession” – being very popular among the conspirators in 1832 – is the imitation and translation of one of the chapters (“Nalivaiko’s Confession”) of an unfinished work “Nalivaiko” by Conrad Rileev, a well-known poet-Decemberist. Gr. Orbeliani changes the content of Rileev’s verse. The narrator of “The Confession” is the author himself in contrast to Rileev’s narrator who is the Ukrainian patriot Nalivaiko. The location – where the character confesses - is transferred from Warsaw to Mtskheta; the enemies of Iberians are “Lezghins, Osmans and Persians”. In the lyrical monologue the real events are disguised and the names are changed. Despite this fact, the verse is very transparent because it talks not about the past but about the present. There are even identical phraseological expressions in both works but the form is borrowed and not the content of the original verse: both verses convey spiritual drama of the patriot characters through their confessions (The emotions of the narrator of “The Confession” are Gr. Orbeliani’s emotions and not those of Ukrainian Nalivaiko’s).

The greatest influence of European literature in the first half of the 19th century was exercised on Gr. Rcheulishvili. He also spared no effort to adopt a new plot, different from Georgian traditional themes, in Georgian literature. If previously, in the process of translation and borrowing, Georgian literature adopted from European and Russian literature basically the poetic forms (rhyme free verses, plotless romances, confession), Gr. Rcheulishvili, borrowing from European, writes the plots himself and adapts them to the Georgian reality. These plots differed from the plots of a patriotic character having been used in Georgian literature previously, though new ones did not exclude the patriotic themes. The novelty was to show the versatility of the characters and the psychology of their emotions on which the unexpected life suspense was based. Gr. Rcheulishvili’s fictional prose was received without any enthusiasm by the Georgian critics and the author himself was considered a plagiarist in the history of Georgian literature.

Jumber Chumburidze, a literary critic, analysed Gr.Rcheulishvili’s short story “Anuka Batonishvili” and concluded that it was the recast of the historical novel “Isabel Orsini” by an Italian writer Italo Fiorentino. The Georgian writer borrowed from this novel not only the plot but directly transferred several passages as well; also dialogues in these two works are similar. Gr Rcheullishvili adapted the existing plot – based on the historical facts from the history of the 16th century Italy – to the historical events of the same period of the “The Georgian Chronicles”; though, due to the different Georgian historical reality, he could not depict degeneracy that did not exist there but which was, on the other hand, characteristic of feudal Italy. Moreover, he considered the interests of Georgian readers. Despite this fact, one part of society was recalcitrant towards him because they were unhappily surprised at the passages to which Georgian readers had not been accustomed. But doubtless that author managed to adapt the foreign plot to the Georgian reality and made Georgian readers get used to the idea that such plots were not rare exceptions to the Georgian reality.

The plot of his second short story “Tamar Batonishvili” was borrowed by Gr. Rcheulishvili from Alexandre Dumas’ novel “The Two Dianas”, though the Georgian plot develops absolutely differently. It sometimes follows the author’s imagination and sometimes “The History of Kartli”. As for Gr. Rcheulishvili’s other short stories – “The Sleepwalker” and “The Crazy” – it was noted by literary critics that those two short stories were translated as well but their source had not been identified yet. Out of all works published under the name of Gr. Rcheulishvili only “Widow’s Lemons” was not accused of being translated and was considered an original piece of writing (though the plot of this short story is unusual as well); his other works were published as translated ones by the author.
Notwithstanding the emerging rumours about Gr. Rcheulishvili, he apparently should be considered a writer and not a plagiarist. The 19th century (especially the first half of it) was an epoch when Georgian writers tried to introduce Russian and European culture to readers; and with this end in view it provided Georgian readers with new “nourishment” i.e. translations and adapted pieces of writing. The writers tried to adapt foreign literature to the Georgian reality and provided the readers with everything they could provide. Gr. Rcheulishvili provided Georgian readers with human relations that are based, for example, on uncontrolled emotions, passions and intrigue – all of the above are interesting as everything is forbidden, unacceptable or immoral. L. Megron noted: “For a Romanticist love is not only something irresistible but it is fatal”[4, p. 154]. Hence, in the European Romance (except for the Engish one) the adultery theory was justified but it was unacceptable for Georgian literature; and we cannot exclude that it was unacceptable for the Georgian everyday life as well. In any case, the majority of Georgian noblemen were irritated by such novelty, as they considered it to be an insult to their history. Gr. Rcheulishvili who had already acquainted himself with such phenomena of European and Russian lliterature, was accustomed to them and attempted to show similar ones in Georgian writings. Proceeding from the above he might be called a pioneer (he made the first step forward when he translated “The Seduced at Masquerade” and published it in the journal “Tsiskari”).

Gr. Rcheulishvili’s name is related to one more novelty – an attempt to introduce “Dark Romanticism” into Georgian literature. Such writings should definitely have been interesting for Georgian readers who were not aware of this side of Romanticism at all; and as it appeared, the trends of the European literature were unknown to Georgian readers. Such a style of Romanticism was widely spread in European literature, especially in the German one that was called Schauer romantik (“Romanticism of Horror”). In Russia it was called “Marlinism”. The rudiments of this trend are given in Johann Paul Richter’s novels.

In this regard, while characterizing German Romanticism, La-Bart noted: “The miraculous happens in broad daylight, it is everywhere, it is in us and around us. But those who gain a deeper insight into the miraculous leave the boundaries of the norms which restrict the poor blind, ordinary, “normal” people. The society considers such people maniacs, cranks, visionaries, abnormal ones. Romanticists will begin to describe such abnormal people, their phantasma and emotions in their scientific romance and novels” [3, p.95]

French writers were also aspiring to such “Lovecraftian romanticism”. La-Bart differentiates four types of impressionism and considers such writing to belong to the first, the basic type. From his point of view it is an author’s desire to “frighten” readers. This genre of horror represents the novel-feuilleton. Eugene Sue, Dumas and their numerous followers enliven in the novels the “horrors” and “criminals” of the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. The striving of the romanticists towards the terrifying situations is shown in the works of Lamartine and even Hugo.

On the basis of the analysis of Gr. Rcheulishvili’s writings it can be concluded that the author is partly influenced by European romanticism; Grigol Rcheulishvili’s prose works mainly follow the representatives of the French school of romanticism, especially those of the 1830s.

Early German Romanticism – characterized by abstract aesthetics and mysticism - was alien for Georgian literature. Grigol Rcheulishvili can be considered as not being influenced by it. Broadly speaking, Gr. Rcheulishvili wrote only one short story in the 19th century Georgian literature that belongs to the “Dark Romanticism”. This work is a short story but resembles a short detective novel. The author’s goal is to dominate readers totally – so that they cannot tear themselves away from the book. The Georgian author manages to do all the above by means of a rich imagination, the composition of the story resembles that of a short novel. That genre should have become the basis of the detective genre in Georgian literature but it did not develop further in the 19th century. It emerged comparatively late, in the midst of the 20th century. But the Europe of the 19th century was the century of a short novel and detective genre. A short novel was created and developed in the Romance and laid the foundation of the realistic novel.

As mentioned above, it was customary in the 19th century Georgia not only to translate European and Russian literature but also to adapt and imitate their original writings. The majority of the employees of the journal “Tsiskari” were involved in such activities. They themselves published adapted and translated literature. But the new generation called Tergdaleulebi (a Georgian term that literally means “one who has drunk the waters of the Terek”; that is, one who has been to Russia) noticed this weakness on the part of Georgian writers. The new generation (Tergdaleulebi) revealed true national interests of the literature and the topics that should be conveyed to the readers, of course honouring the copyrights. However, not all Georgian writers were translators - “recastors”. In the adapted works studied by us we revealed their “own” ideas that are called art; they convey the voice of a Georgian writer; nuances of writing show the ability of the authors to adapt the work to the Georgian reality and not to simply borrow it; the works show their style relevant to the epoch and their gift to process the literature in their own souls and find those nuances that can be done only by real masters.

Borrowing plots was widespread in many countries and it might be found even in the works of well-known writers. V. Zhirmunsky rightly noted that real writers always reprocess “borrowings” and the difference between the result and the original is as essential as the similarities[5, p. 93].

Thus, our goal is not to justify imitation in writing. Our task is to show the literary relations established in the era of Georgia’s Europeanisation and recognize the significance of these relations for the development of Georgian literature – with the emphasis on the development of topics, genres and versatility of structural forms. We should not forget that establishment of literary relations in Georgia is the result of the Europeanisation of the country. These trends acquire national character and differ from the previous literature by the peculiarities of representation.


1. Chumburidze, J., From the History of Georgian Prose, TSU, Tbilisi 2001. (In Georgian).
2. Хаханов, А., Очерки, Москва 1906.
3. Ла-Барт Ф. де, Литературное движение на западе, Москва 1912.
4. Мегрон Л., Романтизм и нравы, Москва 1914.
5. Жирмунский В., “Пушкин и западные литературы“, сбор. Временник Пушкинской Комисии, 3. Академия наук СССР. М.Л., 1937.