Homage to Georgia
Edited by Nausikaa Angelotti and Elena Botchorichvili
Homage to Georgia
To celebrate Georgia as this year’s Guest of Honour at Frankfurter Buchmesse, Specimen has prepared a special Georgian literature focused Dossier.
Akaki Tzereteli’s Suliko is a popular poem written in 1895. Its lyrical hero seeks his lover’s grave and finds it in a nightingale, a rose, and a star. Both the poem and the tune to its verses have, in fact, transformed into a symbol of Georgia and Georgian character recognized by foreigners.
Levan Berdzenishvili’s Sacred Darkness immortalizes the last prisoners of GULAG. Arcady Dudkin was one such inmate. The Soviet regime discerned a savage beast in this dumb-witted man. The prisoner, however, could not wrap his head around why they would not release him, so his imagination stubbornly repeated the same legend based on his brother’s story. According to this legend, Dudkin, a Hilfpolizei collaborator since the age of fifteen, was “in reality” a tank commander fighting against Hitler, one who would send his tank soaring up in the sky.
Elena Bochorishvili’s text In Emigration, employing extremely concise style, conveys a painful cry from the heart of an expatriate in a foreign land. And it was easier to buy bullets than flowers by the same author is a highly artistic and laconic portrait of the era when summer arrived beating spring to the punch, when an idea was conceived to compose an opera in which everyone is deceased, when flowers sank into oblivion but bullets were all over the place, when red underwear sewn from leftover Soviet flags started appearing on the dead displayed for viewing.
The House by Mikheil Kakabadze is a sketch describing one episode from World War II. A German pianist is pleading with two Soviet soldiers to spare his life. The narrator, who, just like the German, happens to have been a pianist, had no intention of killing his colleague. Still, it was up to the sergeant who was in charge. They take away the German’s weapon and promise to release him outside. In return, he is ordered to play something “really long.” The German performs Tchaikovsky and is likely to survive, but he mentions his children to the sergeant whose two children have been killed in the war.
Ruska Jorjoliani’s Excerpts from the Autobiography I Will Never Write includes an essay called Horses which echoes a period from childhood with an aged grandfather telling his grandchild that, one day, the mountain dragon might awaken to swallow the lake and pave the way to our lands for other children of god riding fabled Kabarda horses, those a thousand times stronger and faster than ours. The child, though she had never seen Kabardians, knew well that, after having returned home one day, she would find the guardians of something nonexistent: her grandfather, his Kabardians, and the amazing Kabarda horses.