Project Description

Translating Georgia: From The Knight in the Panther Skin to Bestseller. Lyn Coffin and Tamar Japaridze in conversation with Maureen Freely


FREE online events.

Sunday 28 February – 14.00 – 14.45

A language forged at a mountainous crossroads on the edge of empires, Georgian is enriched by loan words ranging from Sanskrit, ancient Greek and Persian, to Arabic, Turkish and Russian. What are the difficulties and delights of translating from or into this non-Indo-European language, with its own 33-letter alphabet and vocabulary bursting with synonyms?

American poet and novelist Lyn Coffin won Georgia’s highest literary award, the Saba, for her verse rendering of Shota Rustaveli’s courtly masterpiece, The Knight in the Panther Skin. Her 1,666 rhyming quatrains of 16-syllable lines made hers the first translation to mirror the Persian shairi form of the 12th-century original. Penned during Queen Tamar’s golden age, this chivalric tale refashioned Persian sources into a national epic, with an Arabian king who abdicates his throne to his daughter, and a melancholic knight pining for an Indian princess. Lyn also renders 20th-century Georgian poets into English. Tamar Japaridze’s translations into Georgian include Shakespeare, Pinter, Margaret Atwood, Kazuo Ishiguro, Irvine Welsh and Bernardine Evaristo. Her latest translation is Bestseller by Georgia’s EU literature laureate Beka Adamashvili (in the tavern on 26 February). How do his postmodern parodies and puns play in English?

Hosting them in the fantastic tavern is Maureen Freely, novelist, champion of free expression, and translator of Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk.

Please note: all timings are GMT

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