Georgia Through Its Folktales
where Noah’s Ark is said to have settled, home of the Argonauts and of Prometheus
"Everything shifts in the Caucasus, blown by some of the strongest winds on earth. Even the ground moves, splintered by fault lines. In early Georgian myths, it is said that when the mountains were young, they had legs – could walk from the edges of the oceans to the deserts, flirting with the low hills, shrouding them with soft clouds of love" (Griffin, 2001, p.2).
But what about those aspects of life which remain relatively constant – the traditional practices of the people, the practices that are reflected in their folktales and their folklore? It is these constants that this study concentrates on. Find out about the land with which the earliest folklore of Europe is connected – the land where Noah’s Ark is said to have settled, the land of the Argonauts and of Prometheus.
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Georgia Through Its Folktales gathers a smorgasbord of classic folktales from the Republic of Georgia, many of which have never been translated into English before. A handful of black-and-white illustrations enhance this treasury of classic, fantastic stories which reveal a glimpse into the minds of the men and women who call Georgia home - such as the reworking of Genesis into a story that suggests the Georgians were last in line when God gave them land, so God gave them his garden - the small yet fertile and heavenly patch of land that is Georgia. A wondrous collection, deserving of the highest recommendation especially for library folktale shelves. ~ Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA)
European folklore in general is a neglected field for study in this country and especially Eastern Europpean fold traditions. This book is therefore welcome. Recommended. ~ The Cauldron
This book is unlike most compendiums of folktales for two reasons: firstly, the relative obscurity (in the English language at any rate) of the subject matter; and secondly, the unique and fascinating reflective threads with which the stories on offer are bound together. I would recommend this book for anyone interested in history, culture, folk traditions, shamanism, and especially, in the peoples and customs of Eastern Europe and the Near East. ~ Henry Lauer, Editor/Contributing Author, Hex Magazine
Recent events have put the Caucasus, and Georgia in particular, on the map for many British people, but as anyone from the region will quickly tell you, it has been on the map for longer than anywhere else and was possibly also where maps were invented in the first place. Though often the site of tragic ethnic conflicts, the Caucasus also hosts a never-ending unofficial contest in which good humour and sharp wits are all that is required to compete. Georgians, Armenians, Azerbaijanis and dozens of other peoples engage in spirited intellectual combat to prove they were the first â€“ to press olives, cultivate vines, convert to Christianity, use the alphabet, brew Turkish coffee (or should that be Armenian?) or engage in any other activity marking out the region as a cradle of civilisation. All this is in Michael Bermanâ€™s delightful book of traditional tales, along with many other beguiling regional ingredients: ancient mythology, immemorial folklore, and a staggering landscape where mountains reach the sky and a rare physical beauty coexists with everyday struggle and its attendant barbarity. The book can be read as a scholarly primer, a prelude to travel, or simply for pleasure. ~ David Ronder - freelance translator and language teacher
Some of the material is fascinating. A three-page article about exorcising batonebi(demons that cause various illnesses) was gripping. ~ Val Stevenson, Fortean Times
The stories collated here are a mix of morality tales and good old fashioned fairy tales, some of which haven't before appeared in translation. You get a sense of the wealth of culture in these stories of princes, hunters and animals. A very enjoyable and illuminating read.~ Tania Ahsan, Editor of Kindred Spirit Magazine UK
Review: Georgia Through its Folktales (Michael Berman)This book is unlike most compendiums of folktales for two reasons: firstly, the relative obscurity (in the English language at any rate) of the subject matter; and secondly, the unique and fascinating reflective threads with which the stories on offer are bound together.
Hex Magazine 13 April 2010 www.hexmagazine.com~
Georgia Through its Folktales
by Michael Berman and Ketevan Kalandadze
(O Books, £11.99)
Georgia has a rich folk culture and this book is a great introduction to the folktales of a region that has Pagan, Christian and Islamic traditions. The stories collated here are a mix of morality tales and good old-fashioned fairy tales, some of which haven’t before appeared in translation. You get a sense of the wealth of culture in these stories of princes, hunters and animals.
The only fault is an ordering one in that it is written as an academic text and so annotations occasionally appear right in the midst of the text. This can be a little frustrating and it might have been better to have the stories as the first part of the book and commentaries and notes at the end of it. However, this is a small irritation in the wider context of a very enjoyable and illuminating read. Tania Ahsan
Full of third sons, talking birds, enchanted places, beautiful women and impossible journeys, these charmingly illustrated stories have a magic-realist, almost absurd quality, and they are told and translated in such a way that will keep you reading from cover to cover. In his introduction and extensive accompanying gloss, Michael Berman skilfully locates them in their historical, religious, storytelling and shamanic contexts with a scholarship that is both thorough and accessible, making it complementary to the enjoyment of the reader. A nice collection. ~ David Ronder,BA, MA - lecturer and translator
Ancient Georgian folktales are representative of the spiritual power and artistic potential of the people. This book gives an insight into some very important traditions, showing how goodness ultimately defeats evil, and what the main purpose of human life is. ~ Nino Makhevadze, PhD - ethnomusicologist, Tbilisi State Conservatory