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On this day distinguished Georgian author Mikheil Javakhishvili was born
20 November, 2017
November 20, 1880, marks the birthday of Mikheil Javakhishvili, a Georgian novelist who is regarded as one of the leading twentieth-century Georgian writers.

He was born in the village of Tserakvi in what is now the Kvemo Kartli region, Georgia.

He enrolled into the Yalta College of Horticulture and Viticulture, but a family tragedy forced him to abandon his studies: robbers killed his mother and sister, and his father died shortly thereafter.

His first story was published in 1903, followed by a series of journalistic articles critical of the Russian authorities. In 1906, the Tsarist political repressions (then Georgia was under the rule of Imperial Russia) forced him to retire to France, where he studied art and political economy at the University of Paris.

Mikheil Javakhishvili and the king of Georgian poets - Galaktion Tabidze

In 1921, he joined the National Democratic Party of Georgia and was in opposition to the Soviet government established in Georgia the same year. His relations with the new authorities remained uneasy.

His plots, sometimes overtly rebellious, violent, and sexually passionate, intersect traditional taboos.

In his most famous novella, Jaqo's Dispossessed (Jakos Khiznebi), first published in 1924, Javakhishvili contrasts the swindler Jako with his victim, Prince Teimuraz Khevistavi, the amiable intellectual and ineffectual philanthropist whom his trustee, Jaqo, robs of his fortune and his beautiful and beloved wife Margo. In the person of Teimuraz, we follow the decline and fall of the old nobility.

Another major work, the satirical Kvachi Kvachantiradze (1924), was dramatized in 1927 for Sandro Akhmeteli's Rustaveli Theater, but the project was aborted when the leading pro-Bolshevik critics denounced it as pornography (the play has since been lost).

In his 1926 novel The White Collar Javakhishvili describes the fate of the freedom-loving and stoical Georgian mountaineers – Khevsurs – in the new Soviet reality.

The real crown of Javakhishvili's work – the novel Arsena of Marabda– was composed between 1933 and 1936. The plot is based on the life of a real historical figure,  Arsena Odzelashvili, who is also a favorite hero of Georgian folklore.  Javakhishvili focuses on the tragic necessity that makes the simple peasant Arsena to transform into the typical 19th-century bandit.

The novelist was arrested on 14 August 1937 and tortured in the presence of Lavrentiy Beria, Soviet politician of Georgian ethnicity, Marshal of the Soviet Union and state security administrator. He was shot on 30 September 1937. His property was confiscated, and his archives destroyed. Javakhisvhili remained censored until the late 1950s when he was rehabilitated and republished.
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