Ivane Machabeli is 160
08 May, 2014
Ivane Machabeli is 160
On 30 April, at the Writers' House an exhibition of Ivane Machabeli celebrated the 160th anniversary of the famous Georgian writer, translator and publicist, and one of the founders of the new Georgian literary language. He is acknowledged as the greatest translator of Shakespeare into the Georgian language. The celebration had several forms: an exhibition of pictures from Ivane Machabeli's family archives was opened. Schoolchildren were also taken around the Writers’ House and learned more about the founding of the house
itself, as well as of the life and repressions of writers and about the owner of the house - Davit Sarajishvili, a famous Georgian businessman and benefactor. The excursion was followed by a short lecture about the latter. It is worth mentioning that the pictures of Ivane Machabeli's family – his children, wife, parents and himself - are taken by the first Georgian photographer, Alexander Roinashvili.
At the age of eight, Ivane had already read The Knight in the Panther's Skin by Shota Rustaveli, as well as significant other monuments of world literature. He was the son of the impoverished nobleman Giorgi Machabeli.
Nata Lomouri, Director of the Writers's House said: “The lecture was led by Paata Chkheidze. I believe that the children have learnt some new details about Ivane Machabeli. The lecture focused on the technique of translating. It is known that Machabeli was permitting himself to make so-called 'free' translations. The pupils also listened to some episodes from his biography. The video about Machabeli's Shakespeare was also screened, retold by Lasha Bakradze, translator, Director of the Museum of Literature.”
Machabeli's letters about art, theatre, literature as well as socio-political and public issues were distinguished by commitment. He also wrote poems and critical letters that were being published in his contemporary Georgian press. Later, Machabeli became the editor of the famous Iveria newspaper. In 1892, he translated Macbeth, in 1893 - Richard the Third and in 1896 – Julius Caesar. He also enriched the repertoire of the Georgian theatre by translating Molière, as well as by interpreting some plays from foreigners into Georgian.
It is also a fact that there was a confrontation between Ilia Chavchavadze and Ivane Machabeli. However, they were the founders of the first bank in Georgia and this confrontation only touched their professional lives and was nothing personal. The most tragic thing about Machabeli is that we do not know where his grave is. All we have is a rib cut from his body as a result of the operation, which is buried in the yard of Mtatsminda (Saint Mountain) Pantheon, inside the wall.
Hard work, economic neediness, as well as confrontations with his colleagues turned a primarily cheerful Machabeli into quite a reserved man. In 1897, he fell seriously ill with pneumonia. He was fighting against the illness for a month which was followed by a depression.
Ivane Machabeli's personality is quite secret. He was last seen on Kostava Street in 1898. After that, nobody ever laid eyes on him again. It was very odd. The local press wrote: “A man whom almost entire Tbilisi was acquainted with vanished as if he had been a needle.” Nobody knows under which circumstances Ivane died. Machabeli was looked for in the Mtkvari (Kura) river, gardens and woods, but in vain – no trace at all.
Nowadays, the Writers' House itself is located on the street named after Ivane Machabeli.

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