• Ilia Chavchavadze
Ilia Chavchavadze works
TRANSLATED BY MARJORY AND OLIVER WARDROPS
GANATLEBA PUBLISHERS. TBILISI-1987
ილია ჭავჭავაძის თხზულებანი
თარგმნილი მარჯორი და ოლივერ უორდროპების მიერ
The book features some works of Ilia Chavchavadze translated into English by brother and sister Oliver and Marjory Wardrop. The translations have not lost their literary value to the present day. The publication is intended as a gift to the Georgian reader in connection with the 150th anniversary celebrations of the birth of the outstanding Georgian writer and public figure.
Text prepared for publication, with a preface and notes by Ia Popkhadze.
Edited by Dr. Guram Sharadze.
The special interest shown by, Marjory and Oliver Wardrop for Georgian spiritual culture is well known. By translating a number of literary works they gave the versatile English reader an idea of Georgian literature with its centuries — old tradition.
The spiritual affinity of the Wardrops with Ilia Chavchavadze, a great son of Georgia, was not accidental. Their genuine sympathy was confirmed by the translation of the eminent Georgian writer’s literary works, which they did with affection and reverence.
Hitherto the reading public was aware only of Marjory Wardrop’s English translation of Ilia’s “The Hermit” (London 1895). In recent years (1981, 1984) Prof. Guram Sharadze has discovered some other translations in the Wardrop collection of the Bodleian Library, at Oxford pointing to a broader scale of the translational activity of the Wardrops. Apart from “The Hermit”, the following renderings of Ilia’s prose are presented for the first time here: “Notes of a Journey from Vladikavkaz to Tiflis”, “Is that a Man?!” (fragments), “The Sportsman’s story” (several chapters),” Autobiography”.
Chavchavadze’s poetic heritage is represented by these titles: “Spring”, “The Sleeping Maid”, “Elegy”, “Ah!… She — to whom My Dear Desires…” an extract from the poem “The Vision” (“O our Aragva”), “Bazalethi’s Lake” (abridged).
The texts of these translations were prepared for publication according to the autographs preserved at Oxford, the xeroxed copies of which were brought from England by Prof. Sharadze and kindly transferred to the present writer for publication. The text of “The Hermit” is published according to the London edition of 1895, the latter now being a rare book.
Today the greatest merit of these translations would seem to lie in the inner warmth and affection with which they were done, which will always be remembered by the grateful Georgian people.
While most English readers are, to some extent acquainted with the literature of Persia, there are but few who are aware of the existence of Georgian literature. Yet Georgia is well worthy of attention. The Man in the Panther’s Skin, by Rust’haveli, the great epic poet of the XIIth century, loses nothing by comparison with Firdausi’s Shah Nameh; but what modern Persian can be placed beside Barat’hashvili or Chavchavadze ?
Endowed by nature with exceptional gifts, assimilating alike the culture of the East and West, the Christian kingdom of the Caucasus achieved a high degree of refinement and enlightenment at a very early date; and, despite the fierce blasts of war that have swept ceaselessly over the land, the light of literature has been kept alive.
Prince Ilia Chavchavadze was born in 1837. His family has produced many remarkable men, including the poet Alexander Chavchavadze (1786—1846), who was much influenced by the writings of Byron. Prince Ilia received his education in the Tiflis grammar-school and the University of St. Petersburg.
In 1863 he published a journal, Sakart’hvelos Moambe, which had a great influence on his countrymen. In the same year he wrote his novel, “Is that a Man?” in which he drew a picture of the aimless life of the average country squire. This tale raised a storm of ill-will, but it achieved the object of its author: the landed gentry saw their faults mercilessly mirrored forth; first of all they were angry, then ashamed, finally awakened to self-improvement.
Chavchavadze’s literary activity extends over a period of well-nigh forty years, and falls into three divisions. In the first, he is critical and satirical, endeavouring to rouse men from the lethargy in which they lay. In the second, he encourages them to lead a nobler life, by reminding them of the glorious past of their country, and by depicting the heroic deeds of patriots. Finally, he has passed into a phase which may be described as almost purely aesthetic.
To this last division belongs The Hermit, written in 1883. Based upon a legend, the poem has, in my opinion, a symbolic meaning added. Is not the hermit meant, perhaps, to represent mediaevalism, and the shepherd girl, so bewitching and bright, the Renaissance, which has come so much later in Georgia than in the West? Before her beauty and gladness the old life cannot be lived, and must either share in her joy or die. From ancient Buddhist legend to modern French romance, many stories have been written on the temptation of holy recluses. The Hermit differs from all these in its wonderful simplicity. Here, we have no theatrical machinery, no dazzling wealth, no dreams of power to tempt the monk from his solitude, poverty and suffering; no vision of Cleopatra or Semiramis to wile him from the path of duty., but only a simple maiden, innocent and lovely, who tells him of the pure loves of mankind and of the joyousness of life. Yet, we feel that the temptation is all the more subtle and strong for its very simplicity. In the original the style is dignified and harmonious, and the descriptions are full of poetry, and tender sympathy with nature in all her moods.
It is not as a poet and novelist alone that Prince Ilia is distinguished. He is the Editor of a daily paper, Iveria, published in Tiflis, managing director of the Land Bank of the Nobility (an institution which devotes all its profits to educational and other philanthropic work), an eloquent orator, and in all the social life of the nation the most prominent figure.
I regret that my translation is so far from doing justice to the original. The difficulty of learning a tongue hitherto unknown in the West, and of rendering an idiom unallied to any known family of languages may be pleaded as some excuse for my shortcomings.
Kertch, Crimea,* October 1895.
Marjory Wardrop: A Friend of Georgia
She began her study of Georgian with nothing more than an alphabet and a Gospel. By the age of twenty she had chosen to devote herself to the study of Georgian. She would eventually master a total of seven languages, the others being French, German, Italian, Russian and Romanian. She not only learned to speak them, but studied the literature of each as well. He travels took her across Europe, to North Africa and to Haiti; she spent three years living in Romania and a decade in various parts of the Russian empire.
Her command of the Georgian language was so excellent that when she wrote to Ilia Chavchavadze (pictured right) requesting permission to translate The Hermit, a copy of her letter was published in his newspaper, Iveria, as a model of style. When she arrived in Transcaucasia in December, 1894, she was received with great enthusiasm. On this and subsequent travels she met a wide variety of Georgians from every class and formed a number of lasting friendships which resulted in a regular and extensive correspondence in Georgian. “There is hardly a household in the Western Caucasus,” one commentator writes, “where her name is unknown. Others, have studied the language, literature, and history, of Georgia; she in addition felt an affection for the nation, kept herself informed of all that concerned its welfare, and was sometimes able unobtrusively to do good work for it.”
Though fragile and weak of body, Wardrop was known for her “subtle humor, strength of mind and warmth of heart.” On three successive occasions – in Port-au-Prince (1902), in St. Petersburg (1905), and in Bucharest (1907) – she found herself in the midst of war, but faced violence and pestilence with calm resolve, always sharing in the perils of those around her.
She translated and published Georgian Folk Tales (London, 1894 – cover piece left), The Hermit by Ilia Chavchavadze (London, 1895), The Life of St. Nino (Oxford, 1900) and The Knight in the Panther’s Skin by Shota Rustaveli (London, 1912).
She died at Bucharest on December 7, 1909 and was buried at Sevenoaks. Her brother, the British diplomat and scholar of Georgia, Sir Oliver Wardrop, created the Marjory Wardrop Fund at Oxford University “for the encouragement of the study of the language, literature, and history of Georgia, in Transcaucasia.” Her books and manuscripts now reside in Oxford’s Bodleian Library.
Sir John Oliver Wardrop, KBE, CMG (1864-1948) was a British diplomat, traveller and translator, primarily known as the United Kingdom’s first Chief Commissioner of Transcaucasus in Georgia, 1919-21, and also as the founder and benefactor of Kartvelian studies at Oxford University.
After traveling to Georgia (then part of Imperial Russia) in 1887, Sir Oliver wrote his famous book “The Kingdom of Georgia”, published in 1888. In 1894 during his second journey to Georgia he mastered Georgian language and published a series of books on Georgia (“The Book of Wisdom and Lies”).
From 1906 to 1910 Wardrop served as Consul to Romania.
In July 1919 Foreign Secretary Lord Curzon offered Sir Oliver Wardrop to become first British Chief Commissioner of Transcaucasus in Tbilisi. The Government of independent Georgia and its Head Noe Zhordania welcomed Sir Oliver’s return to Georgia. Sir Oliver, a capable diplomat tried to promote Georgian culture and gather all the support from the west for the newly formed country under the threat of Bolshevik aggression. However, in February 1921 Soviet Russia’s Red Army invaded Georgia, putting an end to the short-lived democratic republic. In England, Sir Oliver organized the set up of Georgian Society and the Georgian Committee in London. In 1930, along with W.E.D. Allen, he formed the Georgian Historic Society which published its own journal Georgica. His sister Marjory Wardrop (1869-1909) translated the 12-century Georgian epic of Shota Rustaveli, The Knight in the Panther’s Skin into English.
In 1909 Marjory Wardrop Fund at Oxford University was created by Sir Oliver Wardrop after Marjory’s death. Through it, Sir Oliver augmented his renowned Collection. It now consists of 1,454 items, of which 215 are periodicals and 73 are series. Included are 74 MSS in the category of texts and collections of Georgian literature.
Sir Oliver died in 1948.
Oliver & Marjory Wardrop – Roots of Diplomatic Relationship
In the 19th c. foreign Secretary Lord Curzon invited Oliver Wardrop (1864-1948) to become the first Chief British Commissioner of Transcaucasus – a post he held just before the Bolshevik invasion of 1921. Oliver Wardrop’s first trip to Georgia was in 1887, which resulted in his book “The Kingdom of Georgia”, published in 1888. In 1894 he made the second journey to Georgia after having learnt the Georgian language and published a series of books on Georgia (“The Book of Wisdom and Lies”). By the end of the 19th c British and European investment in the Caucasus grew, so did the complexity of the political atmosphere. Russian domination of the region declined immediately after the 1917 Revolution. A year after German authority drained away with its defeat in the First World War, leaving power vacuum. With large oil interests still in Baku and Batumi, the British intervened and Ajara became a British Protectorate. Military British troops were stationed in, found themselves increasingly unpopular against the background of increased complexity of the political atmosphere in Caucasus. Back in London, Lord Curzon and Winston Churchill started looking for a man capable of restoring cohesion and British popularity in the region. In July 1919 they proposed Oliver Wardrop be installed in Tbilsi as British Chief Commissioner of Transcaucasus. The new Menshevik Government of independent Georgia led by Noe Zhordania welcomed Oliver’s return to Tiflis. (In 2000 HMA Richard Jenkins unveiled a plaque on the building in Ingorokva Street – opposite the State Chancellery – where the British Consulate was located).