Wardrop Inheritance: A Journey through Translation from Georgia

On November 6, a book launch ‘Unlocking the Door: Writing from Georgia’ was presented jointly by the Embassy of Georgia to the UK and the Royal Asiatic Society.

The book, published by Cezanne Printing House, contains pieces of translation from Georgian by students of the University of Oxford, supervized and edited by Lia Chokoshvili, a Georgian language tutor at the Oxford University Language Center. The book brings together short stories and plays by Erlom Akhvlediani, Guram Rcheulishvili, Lasha Tabukashvili, Goderdzi Chokheli and Aka Morchiladze.

Dr Alison Ohta, Director of the Royal Asiatic Society, and Neli Shiolashvili, Senior Counsellor of the Embassy of Georgia, addressed the audience with welcome remarks.

Donald Rayfield, Professor of Georgian and Russian Studies at the Queen Mary University of London, who rendered editorial assistance to the translators of ‘Unlocking the Door’, talked about the successes and challenges of translating from the Georgian language.

Dr Gillian Evison, Head of Bodleian libraries’ Oriental Section and Indian Institute Librarian and Chair of the Marjory Wardrop Fund presented a talk about the importance of the Wardrop heritage and priorities of the Marjory Wardrop Fund, including teaching of the Georgian language and supporting translation from Georgian.

Lia Chokoshvili, who has been teaching the Georgian language at the Oxford University Language Center for more than 20 years, spoke on the entire ‘journey through translation’ right from creation of the idea all the way to its publishing.

Translators Clifford Marcus and Walker Thompson shared their experience on the peculiarities of translating from Georgian, while Emily Tamkin, Geoffrey Gosby and Oliver Matthews ‘joined’ the event through their recorded video-messages as they were not able to attend the book launch itself.

Later, guests had the chance to purchase the book. Discussions about the book and Georgian literature in general continued during the wine reception, also hosted by the Embassy of Georgia.

The Royal Asiatic Society has an important historic significance for translation of Georgian literature. In 1912, the translation of Shota Rustaveli’s “Knight in the Panther’s Skin” by Marjory Wardrop was published there for the first time.

By Katie Ruth Davies

08 November 2018 19:28