And the Machabeli Prize goes to... Innes Merabishvili!
22 May, 2014
And the Machabeli Prize goes to... Innes Merabishvili!
The multitalented Prince Ivane Machabeli of the 19th century is venerated by this Nation for his exceptional translation of Shakespeare into the Georgian language. For us the Georgians, Machabeli is an unembellished symbol of the translation art, and naturally, winning of the prize that carries his great name, is taken by all of us as the matter of lifetime fulfillment and pride. As a happy consequence of her truly laudable dedication to the theory and practice of translation, Professor Innes
Merabishvili is today a felicitous winner of the cherished and absolutely deserved Machabeli Prize.
Hardly out of high school and just within the walls of her beloved Tbilisi State University, Innes had made a firm choice in favor of embarking the fascinating liner of liberal arts to follow the long and complicated course of a scholar, translator and pedagogue. She has unequivocally excelled in every single one of these creative realms. The talk about Innes Merabishvili definitely tends to carry me away too far, which might turn out to be detrimental to the fair interpretation of one particular angle of her life and work – the art of translation. I have at various occasions used both an oral word and a written thought to publicly suggest the scrutiny of her translation skills and facts, but I would love to go much deeper this particular time of celebrating the thrilling moment of winning by her the brilliance-reflecting Machabeli Prize. Innes Merabishvili is a trilingual theoretician and translator, which means that she possesses a God-given gift of freely and skillfully playing and juggling with words in three sharply differing languages – English, Georgian and Russian. She has a diabolical sense of lingua, feeling every letter, sound and syllable of word. I have rarely seen – if only in the depths of the faultless Machabelian translations – such an utter approximation of a translated word to the original, which masterfully upholds complete freedom of expression at the same time. This is probably why Innes’s translation of poetry reaches us with breathtaking penetration. Her uncanny linguistic sophistication creates a smooth natural junction with the intellectual spiral of the original text, by means of which the original’s spiritual context is elevated to the level of utmost subtlety. It should also be recognized that only translator’s talent would not suffice here – this can only be the fruit of titanic and tireless work.
Overloading this piece of writing with an abundance of patterns from Innes’s translations might do a certain disservice to the whole idea of presenting this Machabeli Prize winner to the interested public – let us instead read into the wholesome infatuating lines, created by Professor Merabishvili. On the other hand, I cannot help throwing in one shining sample of her turning a Georgian word into English. The most eminent Georgian poet Galaktion Tabidze, whose philosophical enigmas were a while ago adroitly construed by our Champion, had forever carved these resonant poetic syntagmas in every Georgian’s mind:

“kari hkris, kari hkris, kari hkris,
potlebi mihkrian kardakar . . .
kheta rigs, kheta jars rkalad khris,
sada khar, sada khar, sada khar? . .”


Just try to annunciate these lines in the Georgian language, making only a phonetic utterance, and listen to yourself! Are you hearing the music? Under the swift stroke of the translator’s pen, the same gloriously dynamic sounding was maintained in between those precious lines, now impressing you with rhyme:

“Whirls the wind, whirls the wind,
whirls the wind,
And the leaves whirl from wind
still to wind . . .
Rows of trees, lines of trees bend in arch,
Where are thou, where are thou,
why so far?..”


Have you perceived the magic ripple of this rhythmic poetic melody, now presented in the English language? Have you felt that this outlandish poetry was reborn instantly for you and is presently being nursed by your imagination?
In the kingdom of poetic translation several intrinsic flows of consciousness and intelligence are taking place. One of them is the translator’s individualized bond with each word or combination of words, each phrase and sentence, every flash of the poet’s roaming mind and rhyming ability. Innes Merabishvili, in addition to this kind of individualized awareness of each textual constituent, is adding to the magic process of translation a learned scholar’s inquisitive enterprise. Galaktion’s enigmas could never have been interpreted on the highest spiritual and scholarly level unless Professor Merabishvili had personified within herself so profoundly those enigmatic flares of Georgia’s reigning poet’s wits and psyche.
The talent of Innes Merabishvili was recognized by the Georgian Writers’ Union – she was awarded the highest prize for translation in the country – and that is very good! But the highest accolade for any person of letters should be the acknowledgment and gratitude of the public – the loving and loved public. Innes definitely enjoys the appreciation of that measure and quality. One of the most working sides of the Machabeli Prize in the life of this winner is the fact that all what Innes is doing has a tremendous affect on the life of our people – her theory of translation is shared and used, her translations are read, her school is attended and her lectures are overcrowded. Congrats with the big Prize! And many more!

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