Ilia Chavchavadze and William Blake on truth and lies
14 July, 2018
Ilia Chavchavadze and William Blake on truth and lies
“Tell your friend the truth and keep it from your foe”. This is the epigraph of Ilia Chavchavdze’s novel “Is a Man a Human?”! Ilia Chavchavadze was a Georgian writer, political figure and publisher in the19th-20th century. His novel Is a Man a Human?! depicts the life of the nobleman Tatqaridze. Throughout the satirical story, the writer’s aim is to draw the reader into recognizing themselves in the ridiculous antics of the characters.

Mr. and Mrs. Tatqaridze allow days to go
by without reflecting on themselves, caring more about food and non-existent problems. The fictional characters are unable to have children of their own suggesting that their future life will be futile and idle. The nobleman Tatqaridze is a composite image of certain Georgians (and Humans in general) rather than a reference to any individual.
geotv.ge

Mr. and Mrs. Tatqaridze counting flies on the ceiling, Photo courtesy: www.mcheishvili.blogspot.com

The first part of the epigraph (“Tell your friend the truth") leads us into the underlying truth of the novel: If you wish the best for those you love, give them a “mirror”, so as to help them identify their weaknesses or strengths before they are ridiculed.

The epigraph has another part too – “keep the truth from your foe”. Why should we reveal the truth to our friends but hide it from the enemies? The poem A Poison Tree by William Blake, an English poet of the 18th -19th century attempt to enlighten us on this proposition.

A Poison Tree

I was angry with my friend;
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears,
Night & morning with my tears:
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night.
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine.

And into my garden stole,
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see;
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

geotv.ge
A Poison Tree, Photo courtesy: www.commonwealmagazine.org

The first two lines of the poem imply the very idea of the first part of the epigraph. The protagonist uncovers his worries to his friend, as does Ilia Chavchavadze through his novel. If you store up hostile feelings towards your friends, your beloved ones, one day the accumulated negativity might burst and tear up your relationship. You realize it somehow, may be subconsciously and try to neutralize negativity by being straightforward with them.

The second part of the epigraph emerges in an intriguing and menacing way in the poem. The protagonist is furious with his foe. He remains silent and keeps the anger in his mind, metaphorically speaking, it grows, watered by his internal anger. Why should one do this? William Blake believed, that the world possesses a balance - whenever something goes wrong (and so there is a loss of balance), the world uses its power to restore it. It may not be just a mere coincidence that the poet repeats the conjunction “and” several times. If something occurs and it is followed by the word “and”, it means, it has to be continued, another action is going to take place. Cause and effect – it is a round chain of balance. How would we recognize unfairness if there were not fairness or good as opposed to evil and vice versa - two contrasting concepts create the balance.
geotv.ge
Great architect of the universe by William Blake, Photo courtesy: www.pinterest.co.uk

If we go back to the poem, we can observe that the accumulated negative feelings in the protagonist’s mind are figuratively transferred to the earth, god, nature or whatever we may call it. The latter turns the anger into a negative power. As we see later on, the enemy eats the materialized anger (an apple) and dies. The power of the world interferes in human space to restrike the balance on the earth.

You may ask: Why does he let nature handle it? Some consider his choice as a virtue and here is why. Have you ever heard how orthodox fathers interpret God’s punishment of Eve and Adam in the Garden of Eden? They believe that God’s anger was not his response to the act of the eating of the apple but Adam and Eve’s impatience. They tried to receive something earlier than it was due according to the judgment of God. Each stage of human life requires appropriate experience and readiness which at that point Adam and Eve didn’t have. Again, we are taken to the phenomenon of balance. God’s established balance on the earth was broken but first there was human negligence. The reference to the Bible cannot be excluded as an apple itself (a symbol of sin) leads us here. Thus, the virtue of the protagonist could be his patience to let the earth restore the balance.
geotv.ge
An apple tree, Photo courtesy: www.noa-betweenthelines.blogspot.com

Apart from the conjunction “and”, repetition of the pronoun “I” would probably catch the reader’s attention. The latter could be a reference to the power one’s mind possesses. As everything around us is reflected in our mind and thoughts, the protagonist may create a reality in his mind to take revenge on his foe. He has been thinking so much about the anger that he takes an action against the enemy through his mind. Alternatively to the theory of balance, the poem could be just a scary journey in the protagonist’s mind or possibly an indirect reference to both.
geotv.ge
A Poison Tree, Photo courtesy: www.stunnedbanana.blogspot.com

Thus, we observe that the epigraph from a Georgian novel resonates with an English poem in an interesting way. “Tell your friend the truth and keep it from your foe” – we choose to be honest with our beloved ones to feel a relief. But we do not act in the same way with our enemies. By so doing, do we resemble our enemy in our actions or not?! Or, as the poem alternatively suggests, sometimes, an anger just in our heads is better for our peace than a real revenge.


Author: Eka Kiknadze

Related stories:

Have a look at Impressive restoration of Ilia Chavchavadze’s Monument in Saguramo

Dato Turashvili is first Georgian writer featured at Berlinale book section

Georgian writers who were nominated for Nobel Prize

89-year-old Georgian writer nominated for Nobel Prize





Print
Other Stories
"Georgian Wine is a Great Discovery"- Andrew Jefford
Georgian wine producers participated in the international wine and spirits exhibition held in Paris, France.
Apollo Magazine about State Silk Museum Tbilisi
The English language monthly magazine Apollo covering visual arts of all periods from antiquity to present day publishes an article about the State Silk Museum in Tbilisi.
"The film has certainly picked up acclaim"-Vogue about "And Then We Danced"
Fashion and lifestyle magazine Vogue publishes an article about the Swedish-Georgian movie titled "And Then We Danced" directed by Levan Akin.
Shopping Hotspot in Barcelona Created by Georgian Designer
Metal Magazine publishes an article about a shopping hotspot Darial created by a Georgian fashion designer Djaba Diassamidze, who has also established his own atelier there.
Georgian Actress taking part in New York play festival
According to Georgian media holding Kvira Georgian actress, Anna Cherkezishvili participated in New York ten minute play-festival.
Tbilisi takes third place in the best destinations of Europe 2020
Tbilisi, the capital city of Georga took third place in the international competition "The Best Destinations of Europe 2020."
Story of Winery that received first Bio Certificate in Georgia
It is said Iago’s Wine is one of the few wines which makes you admit that wine can be red, white, pink and now amber as well.
New virus is to strengthen our faith, says Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia
"A new virus has emerged and many people are scared of this virus. Some have called it the "deadly virus."
Top 5 must-listen Georgian folk songs
The folk music of Georgia consists of at least fifteen regional styles. Georgian folk music is predominantly vocal and is widely known for its rich traditions of vocal polyphony
Hotel Heritage Hotel & Suites opens in Tbilisi
Hotel Heritage Hotel & Suites was opened in Tbilisi, Saint-Petersburg street 6.
Livescore yesterday and the “Goddess” from Bergamo
The inhabitants of Bergamo have long been waiting for the triumph of their football team.
“Holiday Factory pioneered Georgia in the UAE to become famous”
Holiday Factory was officially announced as The Best Incoming Tour Operator 2019 at Welcome To Georgia! National Tourism Award event held in Sheraton Grand Metekhi Palace in Tbilisi on Friday, Dec 6th.
Kavkaz Jazz Festival presents: 22nd and 23rd of November, Tbilisi Music Forum and Showcase.
It is the first year for Tbilisi Music Forum and Showcase. Main goal of the event is development of music industry in Georgia and South Caucasus region.
Sam Raan Spa-Center named Best Spa in Europe
The Sam Raan Spa-Center has been named the Best Spa in Europe at the annual Haute Grandeur Global Spa Awards 2019 and won the following nominations:
Region’s Largest Startup Event to be Held in Tbilisi
On November 8-10, 2019, regional Startup Grind event will be held in Tbilisi.
Georgian royal family introduces new wine brand "Prince Ioane Bagrationi"
Member of the Georgian royal family Prince Ioane Bagrationi introduced the society new wine brand named after him - "Prince Ioane Bagrationi".
Georgia Celebrates Day of Svetitskhoveli Cathedral today

The day of Mtskheta city and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral is celebrated on 14 October in Georgia.

Georgian Wine Festival 2019 to be held on October 12 on the Shardeni street
Those who are interested and want to know more about Georgian wine can attend Georgian Wine Festival 2019 on October 12 on the Shardeni street. Event starts at 12 pm and lasts till 7 pm.
UNESCO names Tbilisi as Capital of World Book 2021
UNESCO has named Tbilisi as the Capital of the World Book 2021.
Robot Mzia’s preparation for First global – she plays basketball and does pull ups
After the famous robot Vano, Robot Mzia is preparing for the international competition “First Global.”
What comes after Frankfurt? Paris!
The year following the appearance as guest of honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair is known as a difficult one. What are the strategies of Georgian publishers for 2019?
Georgia has its first photography museum
With the Tbilisi Photography & Multimedia Museum (TPMM) Georgia has its first institution entirely dedicated to the contemporary image in its different forms – photography, new media, and video.
„The eighth life“ has arrived home
More than 100'000 Germans have already read it, the Dutch and Polish as well. But it was only last May that Nino Haratischwili's “The eighth life for Brilka” was translated for Georgian readers.
“We will fight for Georgian literature”
One year after Georgia’s well received appearance at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the organizational mastermind, Medea Metreveli, lost her job. Now she's coming up with a new project.
Los Angeles Times about Khatia Buniatishvili – “A genuine musical personality”
Los Angeles Times has recently reviewed the Los Angeles Philharmonic celebration at the Hollywood Bowl marking Gustavo Dudamel’s 10 years with the orchestra.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
GEL Exchange Rate
Convertor
20.02.2020
21.02.2020
USD
1
USD
2.8422
2.8265
EUR
1
EUR
3.0701
3.0515
GBP
1
GBP
3.6914
3.6405
RUB
100
RUB
4.4678
4.4316