Literature in Georgia. Between Small Literature and World Literature
In October 2018, Georgia was the guest of honor of the Frankfurter Buchmesse. For the first time after the End of the Soviet Union, literature from Georgia was presented in full in a foreign country, in a foreign language. Only little research has been done in the German-speaking world on Georgian literature. And this although the discrepancy between a small language with only about five million speakers and a tradition that reaches back to 1500 makes Georgian literature a revealing case study for challenging our mostly Eurocentric models of the development of world literature.
The aim of the project is to produce a book regarding literary development in Georgia, with a particular focus on its asynchronicity with the Eurocentric models of periodization of literary history. Unlike previous histories of Georgian literature, which are compendia and attempt to portray Georgian literature exhaustively, this project takes a problem-oriented and thematic approach to literary analysis and organization rather than a chronological one. This requires two shifts in perspective: Firstly, Georgian literature is taken out of the frame of national literary historiography and situated between the opposing and yet complementary concepts of ‘minor/small literature’ and ‘world literature.’ Furthermore, theoretical issues that touch on the concepts of ‘national literature,’ ‘world literature,’ and ‘minor/small literature’ are discussed from the perspective of Georgia, not the other way around. Here, Georgian literature is not compared with other literatures, rather, individual works or group of works are situated in a multilingual and intertextual context. Thus, it is not the genesis of single works that are in the focus but their intertextual resonance chamber.
Sulchan-Saba Orbeliani: Georgian Dictionary, Source: Wikimedia [left]
Newspaper H2SO4 (1924), Design: Irakli Gamrekeli (p. 23–24), Source: modernism.ge (with courtesy of the website) [right]