Donald Rayfield is 70
25 April, 2013
Donald Rayfield is 70
For his active collaboration and outstanding contribution to the development of scientific/scholarly relations with Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, by the decision of the Academic Council of the University on the 15th of April of the year of 2013, the prominent British Kartvelologist (scholar of the Georgian culture and literature) Professor Emeritus of the University of London Donald Rayfield has been awarded the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa of Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University. The decree was signed by the
Rector of the University Alexander Kvitashvili. The ceremony which was widely attended by the enthusiastic public was held on April 19 at Tbilisi State University. Donald Rayfield’s closest fellow-scholars, the Georgian doctors of linguistics and philology Innes Merabishvili, Tinatin Margalitadze, Shukia Apridonidze, Avtandil Arabuli, Lali Ezugbaia, Ariane Chanturia, Rismag Gordeziani and Elguja Khitibidze participated in the event which had attracted the attention of the entire Georgian academia.
Editors of the Comprehensive English-Georgian Dictionary headed by Tinatin Margalitadze have appreciatively payed the due tribute to their outstanding colleague and friend:
“Georgia was very lucky to have Professor Donald Rayfield as the ambassador of its literature, language and now also history. “The importance of Georgian literature is out of all proportion to the number of speakers of the language“, Rayfield writes in the introduction to his monograph “The Literature of Georgia. A History”, the most comprehensive study of the literature of Georgia in English. “For too long the poetry and prose of the Georgian people of Transcaucasia has been a pleasure garden which few foreigners have explored. Donald Rayfield is eminently qualified to introduce the general English-reading public to Georgian literature”, Kevin Tuite noted, while reviewing the History of Georgian Literature.
Having struggled through the difficulties of the Georgian language without an adequate Georgian-English Dictionary, Donald Rayfield shouldered a tremendous undertaking back in the 1980s – creation of the comprehensive Georgian-English Dictionary. The actual work on the dictionary started in 2000 and the two-volume dictionary, comprising 140 000 entries was published in 2006. “For English-reading students of Georgian outside of Georgia, a Georgian-English dictionary is far and away the greatest need; without such a work, the glorious treasures of the Georgian past and the excitement and promise of the present remain a closed book for us”, wrote Prof. Howard Aronson in 1998 to the editors of the English-Georgian Dictionary. With the Comprehensive Georgian-English Dictionary the dream of many generations, both in Georgia and outside Georgia has come true. The history of English lexicography knows only one name, that of Samuel Johnson who completed his work on the Dictionary of the English Language in 6 years. Professor Rayfield’s Dictionary is a truly Johnsonian work.
Many readers interested in the history of Georgia are awaiting the publication of the Georgian history, written by Donald Rayfield. Many of us will be saying soon: “I have been waiting for this book for some time”.
Georgian literature, Georgian language, Georgian history…
Samuel Johnson was styled by his contemporaries “The Academy of the Island”, as one man succeeded in completing the enormous work at which specially created academies laboured in other countries. Professor Donald Rayfield, a truly Johnsonian figure is the real “Academy of Georgia”, for his outstanding contribution to the culture and history of this country.
We wish our dear friend and colleague good health, further success and appreciation of his stupendous work and more challenges and exciting projects in future”.
Donald Rayfield is a Cambridge-educated scholar in the field of literature, specializing in the Russian literature. His initial career developed in Australia with an eventual residence in London as a professor at Queen Mary College.
Among Dr. Rayfield’s opera are books like: Anton Chekhov – a Life, Stalin and His Hangmen, Comprehensive Georgian-English Dictionary, The Literature of Georgia, A History, Edge of Empires, A History of Georgia, Georgian Poetry: Titsian and Galaktion Tabidze, Galaktion Tabidze – Ten Poems, Vazha Pshavela – three Poems, Ilia Chavchavadze – King Dimitri’s Sacrifice: Verse translation with origi-nal text and introduction, The Story of My Life – life of Akaki Tsereteli Translated from Georgian, Galen, Avicenna and the mediaeval Georgian pharmacopoeia.
Donald Rayfield’s predilection for the countryside lifestyle is truly attractive, having given him all the freedom he needed to be as prolific and interesting a writer and researcher as he indeed is. Nature, classical music and the animal friends are this wonderful family man’s everlasting companions.
Donald Rayfield’s love for Georgia and his unmitigated interest in its unfathomable cultural heritage is one of the things that makes this nation so valuable to our civiliziation.
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