Georgian Literature and the World Literary Process

by Irma Ratiani (Author)
©2018 Monographs 154 Pages


The book deals with the reception of Georgian national literature in the context of the world literary process. It depicts the place of Georgian literature on the world literary map, starting from Middle Ages and going through the different periods including the Soviet and Post-soviet epochs. Important terms are world literature, literary canon, Georgian literary canon, and periodization. The research is based upon a comparative approach, using modern theoretical methodologies. The Author provides a professional guide in the world of Georgian literature and the first monograph written on this topic by a Georgian researcher.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgements
  • Chapter One. World Literature, Canon and its National Implications
  • 1.1 “Weltliteratur”. Term History and Function
  • 1.2 Canon, Literary History and Question of Periodization of Georgian Literature
  • Chapter Two. Georgian Literary History and the World Literary Process: From the Middle Ages to Romanticism
  • 2.1 The Middle Ages. Georgian Christian Literature and Formation of Georgian Identity
  • 2.2 Georgian Literature of the 16th–18th centuries. From the West towards the East and Back: Reconstruction of European Concept
  • Chapter Three. Georgian Romanticism and Realism. Struggle for a New Georgian Identity and its Formation
  • 3.1 Period of Romanticism. At the Sources of a New Identity
  • 3.2 Realism of Realism
  • 3.3 “Cosmopolitanism and Patriotism”. From Goethe to Vazha-Pshavela
  • Chapter Four. Georgian Literature of the 20th century: within and beyond the World Literary Process
  • 4.1 At the Sources of Soviet Totalitarianism. Bolshevik Revolution and Literature: from Integration to Isolation
  • 4.2 Bolshevism and “Marginal Authors”: Fatal Struggle against Censorship and Isolation
  • 4.3 From the Patriotic War to Ottepel: Trench Mortars, Marlboro, Twist…
  • 4.4 Contemporary Georgian Literature: Formation and Path
  • Chapter Five. Post-Soviet Georgian Literature: On the Difficult Path of Transformation, Shifting and Re-discovery of Identity
  • 5.1 Post-Soviet Reality, Outer Space and Georgian Post-modernism
  • 5.2 Difficulties of Transformation and Shifting
  • Afterword
  • References
  • Index

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Today, at the period of ever-increasing development and deepening of intercultural communications, special importance attaches to the reception of national literatures as original models of thought, their leading out of the state of cultural isolation and their valuable inclusion into large-scale intercultural dialogue. Naturally, Georgian literature is not an exception, and, in this regard, it is necessary to offer a correct interpretation of the Georgian literary process as well as identification of its place in the common literary process. The question “Why?” would be in fact inappropriate here, as literature in Georgia has always performed the function of an intellectual leader: exactly literature is a reliable lever or a support owing to which the country has always been involved in the international cultural relations and represented a highly significant landscape of the world literary and cultural process. I believe, our epoch follows the same path and the modern Georgian literary process is as an essential link in the world literary process as it was in the past periods. This is due to the following objective circumstances: Modern Georgian literature is a part of the fifteen-centuries-old Georgian literary tradition and it belongs to the rare literary models in which modernist tendencies constantly intersect with the historically formed cultural consciousness; Georgian literature, both ancient and modern, represent an open cultural construction, which was and remains open to the current processes in the world and European literary area.

Georgian literature, fitting into the common context, at the same time, retains the status of an original thinking area, which, in its turn, expands the horizon and scale of international literary process.

The present book studies the interrelation of national literature, in particular, Georgian literature, and the World literary process. The book aims to display the development of Georgian literature as an entire national unit, facing different historical and cultural epochs, literary trends and traditions.

I hope for reader’s indulgence and goodwill. ← 9 | 10 →

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This book was written for several years and the path was not easy.

The goal would not be reached without the help and support of my colleagues and family. I would like to take this opportunity to convey my deep appreciation towards them.

It is my pleasure to expresses special gratitude to Georgian colleagues whose professional support made it possible to publish the book in Georgian: Editor – Dr. Teimuraz Doiashvili; Reviewers – Prof. Maka Elbakidze and Prof. Gaga Lomidze. Special thanks to Irene Kutsia,who translated the book from Georgian into English, and late Arrian Tchanturia who delivered the translation of some parts of the book. Thanks are also due to the Publishing Houses of Shota Rustaveli Institute of Georgian Literature and Tbilisi State University for their support in the first Georgian publication of the book in 2015.

Special thanks should be expressed to my colleague and friend – Bela Tsipuria, Professor of Ilia State University, and – to my respective colleagues abroad, whose support was very important in the process of international presentation of separate parts of the book: Marco Juvan, Marijan Dović, Annette Werberger, Susanne Frank, Vsevolod Bagno. Their opinion and recommendations were essential.

And on the end, I would like to thank my dear family for being patient and supportive during more than eight years while working upon this book. ← 11 | 12 →

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Chapter One.  World Literature, Canon and its National Implications

The world literary community today lives in a period of minimization of frontiers, when the concepts of geographical distance or proximity acquires an all but conditional meaning, while the “World Literature” and the “World Literary Process” appears to us as the most urgent and frequently quoted terms. Interrelation of different literary systems and styles has taken the shape of the central problem of various scholarly debates: at authoritative gatherings of scholars, issues of World Literature and National Literatures, Literary Canon and National Canons are discussed under permanent regime, different opinions – more or less extreme and moderate – are demonstrated.

The problem that rouses my interest from this point of view refers to the relation of Georgian national literature and the World literary process, the problem of belonging of Georgian literature to the Western European literary tradition and investigating all this in the frame of comparative studies.

If we pass under review the developmental history of literary discourse from the Early Classical period to present-day literary thought, we shall become convinced that it constantly changes its attitude to the concept of “frontier”. But, the dynamic trend of this line is unequivocal expansion. The frontiers of literary communication expand not only at the level of basic aesthetic principles, but at that of individual textual structures as well, such as plot, subject, composition, etc. This trend of literary development finds perfect reflection on the methodological plane. Theoretical conceptualization of a “literary frontiers” differs at various stages of the development of literature, obviously determined by the specificity of the current literary process, but, since Plato and Aristotle until the 20th century, it is also focused on the expansion of the vision. In 20th century this tendency has been resulted in a kind of an inter-disciplinary and multi-interpretative space, methods of which quickly spread at the level of various national literatures. The methodological regulation of the process became the prerogative of comparative studies. The activation of the comparative method eventuated in the rapprochement of national literatures, while during the current process of globalization it provoked the already urgent question whether literature has national frontiers and if it does, than how it works alongside the international literary process.

Comparative studies or comparative literary criticism itself has no frontiers per se, it acts under condition of observation of the boundaries of national literatures, which, in my opinion, do exist yet – rather conceptual than visual, but essentially important. National literature retains its own individuality while ← 13 | 14 → it retains its memory. Comparative literary criticism reflects this involved process with maximum precision, moving freely within the boundaries of national characteristics and beyond its boundaries. It creates the possibilities of mutual communication and integration of different national cultures and literatures, only on condition of preserving cultural identity.

That’s how I think we should try to define the place of Georgian literature in the World literary process, especially, its natural relation to the Western European literary model and historically conditioned approach towards the Eastern literary reality. We, Georgian scholars, know that Georgian literature, Christian in its essence, is an inseparable part of the Western European literary model as well as of the World literary process, but we do like the rest of the world to know that too!


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2018 (August)
World Literature Literary Canon Literary History West, East Shifting, Transformation
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2018. 154 pp.

Biographical notes

Irma Ratiani (Author)

Irma Ratiani is a Georgian literary scholar, editor and translator. She is a professor in the department of General and Comparative Literary Studies at the Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University (Georgia). She is director of Shota Rustaveli Institute of Georgian Literature.


Title: Georgian Literature and the World Literary Process
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156 pages