33 Tales of the Georgian Book
Within the framework of the project - Georgia - the guest of honour Frankfurter Buchmesse 2018, Georgian Publishers and Booksellers Association prepared the book - "33 Tales Of The Georgian Book" under the authorship of Gaga Lomidze, aimed at presenting Georgian publishing industry, Georgian book history, and development stages.
Irma Tavelidze, the editor of the book:
We Georgians tend to focus our attention on the Georgian alphabet, its antiquity and its unusual and attractive characters when, having found ourselves in foreign countries, we begin to discuss the unique features of Georgia and Georgian culture in general.
Similarly, these strange, round-shaped letters cannot remain unnoticed by any foreigner who visits Georgia. They are everywhere: in the streets, on buildings, newspaper stands, book covers… A desire to get to know Georgia and Georgian culture often begins by learning about this ancient alphabet existing from time immemorial and its symbolic reference to the uniqueness and rich cultural experience of this country.
There are thirty-three letters in the Georgian alphabet, and each one stands for a single sound – indeed, it has been universally recognized as one of the most perfect alphabetic systems. Thus, the Georgian alphabet and the Georgian language provide Georgian writers and authors with a wonderful means of expression to deliver their message to the universe, share their most intimate feelings, their deepest thoughts, and their instantaneous impressions.
Thirty-three Tales of the Georgian Book tells the story of the alphabet, its development and modification over the centuries, while also depicting the long path of endless quest, unexpected occurrences, and numerous difficulties that Georgian literature has gone through. Printed and manuscript books, as well as the histories associated with them, constitute a significant part of our past. The first surviving literary work, The Martyrdom of Shushanik by Jacob of Tsurtavi (Iakob Tsurtaveli), which was composed in the fifth century A.D., is a perfect example of an ancient book that can make even the contemporary reader’s heart beat faster. Once the book is opened, the reader will be surprised to find a breath-taking drama instead of the dry and monotonous descriptions that are so usual of hagiography.
Shota Rustaveli, the greatest Georgian poet, wrote The Knight in the Panther’s Skin, his magnum opus, an epic and unforgettable poem of love and friendship. It can be argued that The Knight in the Panther’s Skin was the one work that helped shape the kind of country that Georgia is today, as the Georgian people hold freedom as the dearest of all values.
Other tales concern those important figures and events of Georgian literature that have left unique and easily distinguishable traces in the understanding of many generations and helped to shape the consciousness of the nation. In a certain sense, these people and their works determined the future of Georgia, its political and cultural choices. The path that our distant ancestors set out on by composing our alphabet has now become an extensive literary tradition, accumulated over the course of millennia. The thirty-three tales told in this book will provide a closer look at Georgia and the Georgian people who, having survived many troubles and historical injustices, forged the Georgian book with their brilliant creative energy.