The Literature of Georgia: A History
by Donald Rayfield
, professor of Russian
at the University of London
, is the first and the most comprehensive study of the literature of Georgia
that has ever appeared in English
. The work deals with Georgia's diverse 1,500-year literary tradition from the 5th-century hagiographic
writings down to the 20th-century eclectic poetry and prose. The book researches into the diverse influences which have affected the Georgian literature - from Greek and Persian to Russian and modern European, and the folklore of the Caucasus
, and also includes translations of several pieces of the Georgian poetry.
Part V, dealing with the Soviet and post-Soviet periods, is of particular interest. Rayfield, one of the first researchers to have gained access to recently-declassified Soviet archives on the 1937 show trials of Georgian writers organized by Lavrentiy Beria, gives a profound analysis of the tragedy suffered by the Georgian intellectual élite in Stalin's Great Purge which is classified by the author as a "holocaust".
The book was first published in 1994 and earned appraisal from several literary authorities. The second revised edition appeared in 2000.