Friday, April 25, 2008

New Edition of Georgian National Epic Published

A new edition of the Wardrop translation of the Georgian national epic, The Man in the Panther's Skin, by Shota Rustaveli (pictured left in a 1937 painting by Sergo Kobuladze) was released late last year in paperback form by Forgotten Books.

A brief passage from the Preface explains some of the appeal of the text:

The history of the poem makes it worthy of perusal, for it has been in a unique manner the book of a nation for seven hundred years; down to our own days the young people learned it by heart; every woman was expected to know every word of it, and on her marriage to carry a copy of it to her new home. Such veneration shown for so long a period proves that the story of the Panther-clad Knight presents an image of the Georgian outlook on life, and justifies the presumption that merits tested by the experience of a quarter of a million days, most of them troublous, may be apparent to other races, that such a book may be of value to mankind, and chiefly to those peoples which, like the Georgian, came under the influence of Greek and Christian ideals.

Shota Rustaveli presents his poem to Queen Tamar, Mihály Zichy, 1880s

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