Manana Kvataia # 4
Epistolary Allusions as a Source of Innovative Findings
Abstract: The discovery of a hitherto unknown text, source or document provides additional information about the writer and his creations. Especially valuable are the letters unexpected allusions of which frequently become a source of discovery. From this viewpoint in this paper we have studied three cycles of Grigol Robakidze’s personal letters: his messages to Vyacheslav Ivanov, the correspondence with Khariton Shavishvili and the letters to the writer’s last love Gita von Strachwitz. This and numerous other personal letters provide us with interesting details for fundamental research into Robakidze’s biography and his creative activity. The paper places emphasis on the details covering his journey in Italy and relationship with Vyacheslav Ivanov, his life in creative work in Sweden. The research is a novelty from this standpoint and offers us new perspectives.
Key words: Grigol Robakidze; novelty; text; analysis.
The discovery of a hitherto unknown text, source or document provides additional information about the writer and his creations. Especially valuable are the letters unexpected allusions of which frequently become a source of discovery. From this viewpoint in this paper we have studied three cycles of Grigol Robakidze’s personal letters: his messages to Vyacheslav Ivanov, the correspondence with Khariton Shavishvili and the letters to the writer’s last love Gita von Strachwitz. This and numerous other personal letters provide us with interesting details for fundamental research into Robakidze’s biography and his creative activity.
The years 1938 and 1939 when Georgian writer who immigrated to Germany, published his scandalous essays dedicated to Hitler and Mussolini are shrouded in a mystery. The hitherto unknown facts can be partially restored with the help of G.Robakidze’s personal letters to a well known Russian thinker, writer and scholar Vyacheslav Ivanov (1866-1949) written in the same years.
Vyacheslav Ivanov’s archive in Rome holds the originals of the mentioned letters. They were first published with relevant commentaries by Petersburg researcher Tatyana Nikolskaya (Nikolskaya: 2002). The copy of this publication was kindly offered to us by Professor Andrey Shishkin the keeper of Vyacheslav Ivanov’s archive in Rome while visiting Georgia on business trip with the purpose of collecting G.Robakidze’s archival materials.
At the beginning of the past century Robakidze appeared to be inspired by the ideas put forward by V.Ivanov for several decades. According to T.Nikolskaya’s observation the peak of this passion comes to the mid-1910s when in Georgian periodicals numerous of his papers were published in connection with the problems of symbolism. Grigol Robakidze as the “first apostle of symbolism, preached the Gospel of modernism in the words” (T.Tabidze), at the same time he was personally acquainted with the best representatives of Russian symbolism: Vyacheslav Ivanov and Balmont, Andrey Bely and Merezhkovsky (Nikolskaya 1991:117).
Tatyana Nikolskaya reveals V.Ivanov’s influence in G.Robakidze’s original creative works too. In M.Khomeriki’s view V.Ivanov’s Dionysus and Predionysianism helps to understand Dionysian mystery reflected in The Snake’s Skin more than Nietzsche’s work itself (Khomeriki 2010: 23).
G.Robakidze’s personal letters to V.Ivanov cast a light to the relationship between these two spiritually kindred thinkers: “Do not doubt my deepest gratitude to you. Among the few who shared with me the mystery of the world your name is one of the first. This is evidenced from my books”, writes Robakidze to Ivanov in a letter of June 6, 1938. “Your wonderful lines have brought me great joy” (April 11, 1939); in the novel The Guard of the Graal you will see the trace of your wisdom” (January 17, 1939). One fragment is interesting from G.Robakidze’s letter of 14 April 1939: “I am working at a new book Atlantischer Traum. Here you can recognize the trace of your great prophesies: I mean Terror antiques” (the letter deals with G.Robakidze’s essay Atlantic Dream that has not yet been found).
Until recently we had little information on the trip of the Georgian writer to Italy. The letters to V.Ivanov help us to make precise the details of his visit.
According to N.Zombardt’s recollections G.Robakidze immigrated to Germany was asked to write an essay about Mussolini and for this purpose he was invited to Italy. “Robakidze gave an audience in Rome. During the war he lived on Capri for a while at the expense of the Italian government. There he wrote an essay about Mussolini” (Kakabadze 1992: 227).
Grigol Robakidze’s visit to Italy of that time is also evidenced from his correspondence with V.Ivanov, though one detail is made more precise here: Georgian writer appeared to be on Capri in the summer of 1938, i.e., before the beginning of the World War II and, presumably, worked on his essay “Mussolini” (the essay was published in 1939 in Jena). The immediate impressions of his journey are depicted in the pages of this book.
G.Robakidze’s five letters to V.Ivanov provide us with information as to when and what places the Georgian writer visited, in what mood he was; the details of his business activity are also revealed.
The first letter is written in Florence and dates from June 6, 1938. In it G.Robakidze reminds V.Ivanov their first meeting in Petersburg in 1910, at Tavrid #24 (according to T.Nikolskay’s commentary their meeting must have happened as early as 1907 that is evidenced from Robakidze’s one letter to Ivanov on which the stamp indicates December 8, 1907. The young writer while being in Petersburg asks V.Ivanov for assistance in translation of one of Nietzsche’s phrase).
In 1938 while being in Italy Robakidze wanted to meet Vyacheslav Ivanov again and he learned his address from a German poet Frommel. As is seen after receiving G.Robakidze’s post-card Ivanov also expressed his wish to meet and sent him a letter. According to G.Robakidze’s second letter the Georgian writer was looking forward to the audience with maestro. And this desired moment came: G.Robakidze and V.Ivanov met in Rome in July of 1938. This meeting had a great impact on the writer (this is evidenced from his letter dated from January 17, 1939). It becomes known that V.Ivanov’s companion A.O.Shor was also attended this meeting.
From the same letters we learn that after G.Robakidze’s visit his wife Nina Fialkina also travelled to Italy and met V.Ivanov twice. The writer himself intended to go to Italy on August 1939 or in autumn and was looking forward to meeting with V.Ivanov and taking about “Pythagorean” once more. His plans seem to have been frustrated because of the war.
Based on the data of personal letters we have made an attempt to reconstruct the details of G.Robakidze’s visit to Italy. In his letter of June 6, 1938 G.Robakidze reports V.Ivanov: “I arrived to Florence a week ago…, i.e. the writer visited this city at the end of May, 1938. We read: “I will stay here for one more week, and then I will set off to Capri”, i.e. Robakidze planned to stay in Florence up to the mid-June 1938 after which he intended to go to the Capri.
In the same letter one more detail is made precise: “on the way back – around the beginning of the second half of July – I will stay in Rome and if you wish we can meet each other”. According to this fragment the writer planned to stay on Capri more than a month. On June 21, 1938 the following letter sent to Ivanov is already written on Capri (Capri, Villa Floridiana).
G.Robakidze visited Ivanov in Rome in July of 1938 that is evidenced from his letter of January 17,1939 sent from Berlin to Italy: “Our meeting in Rome last July is branded into my mind”, - writes Robakidze to Ivanov.
The material of their correspondence evidences that G.Robakidze stayed in Italy for almost two months – from the end of May up to the end of July, 1938. He seems to work at Mussolini at that time, although nothing is said about this in the above mentioned postcards. But it is indicated that he worked at “Atlantic Dream” in parallel with this.
The trip to Italy left an unforgettable impression on G. Robakidze and this country again beckoned the writer. In his letter of 14 April, 1939 he informed V.Ivanov: “I don’t exclude an opportunity that in the fall I again return back to Italy”. In a letter of 8 June, 1939 the writer is more precise: “Probably I will be in Rome in August”. However the subsequent cataclysms frustrated his plans.
The immediate impressions of Grigol Robakidze’s journey to Italy are clearly reflected in many passages of the essay Mussolini that in our view is a sort of artistic dairies of his journey inspired by country’s beauties.
The details of the writer’s life emigrated from fascist Germany to Switzerland in April, 1945 are reflected in Grigol Robakidze’s correspondence with the Georgian representative in the League of Nations, Khariton Shavishvili who live as an emigrant for over 50 years. These materials were brought from Switzerland and published by Rusudan Sharadze (Sharadze: 2004). The letters written by Kh.Shavishvili, G.Robakidze and Otto Zog report on the difficulties G.Robakidze and his family faced with and Khariton Shavishvili’s assistance. “Due to the loss and difficulties as a result of recent bombings Robakidze couple accommodated in your camp is in a state of nervous breakdown and an urgent treatment is badly needed. The writer Grigol Robakidze is in especially poor conditions. He is suffering from persecution mania… and his health is getting worse with every passing day”, - writes Kh.Shavishvili to the commandment of the camp refugees in Switzerland and asks for assistance to the Georgian writer.
G.Robakidze’s spiritual depression at that time is clearly expressed in his letters to Kh.Shavishvili written in 1946: “I did not sleep last night. I had a nervous disorder. No wonder in my state”, etc.
Important allusions are fixed in an extended letter to Noe Zhordania written by G.Robakidze in November 1, 1946, in which he frankly speaks about his creative accomplishments: “I would like to report to my home country. I can’t get in touch with Georgian people from here – So I report to you. Please, listen to me”, - addresses the writer to Noe Zhordania.
That part of a letter in which Grigol Robakidze summarizes his own creative activity from the scientific viewpoint provides us with important material” “I have published 9 books in Germany: 5 novels, 2 literary pictures, one book of essays and one book of sketches. I have also published the sketches on Caucasus. The novels: The Killed Soul and Megi were also published in Czech. The latter was also published in Italy… The novels The Call of Goddess and Megi were published in France… These novels have been still waiting for publication – this war has hindered the translators to continue negotiations with the publishers. One novel was translated even in Esperanto. The novel Imam Schamil was issued in Arabic. It was published in one journal. I have brought from Germany unpublished bunch of lyrical verses: Der stetbende Adler (The Dying Eagle). The connoisseurs who got acquainted with this declare it is the crown of his creations (Sharadze 2004: 144)”, - is said in the letter.
The text of the same letter fixed the nuances of G.Robakidze’s creative work in Switzerland. “The passed months were fruitful. I am preparing one big book in which I try to render in the form of an essay the tragedy of European culture. Those who know me as a thinker it will not be an overstatement to say that I have something new and essential to say to the mankind. The first half of the book is already finished. I have also finished a research about Georgian genius. In these researches I consider the “image” of Georgians in the world: The “image” seen not only by separate individuals but born by divine genius… That is the research I’ve finished”. The analysis of such allusions discovers the perspectives of revealing the unknown novels as well.
In the same letter the details of the writer’s biography and activity are also made precise. Namely, his attempt to assist Georgian refugees scattered in Europe after the World War II. Robakidze gives Zhordania an advice to transfer the centre of Georgian Diaspora from Germany to Switzerland because this country avoided the destruction of the war. From the writer’s note sent to Akaki Chkhenkeli it becomes known that his initiative failed: Noe Zhordania “failed to do anything, probably his old age hindered to realize it”, writes Robakidze to Chkhenkeli.
In the twilight of Grigol Robakidze’s life remarkable documents represent his love letters to the writer’s last love, Gita von Strachwitz (Robakidze: 2008), which were given to G.Leonidze Georgian Literary State Museum on 24 May, 1996 by the poet David Magradze. These letters dated 1961-1962 were given to him by the painter Gerda Vanda Hole while he was in Bavaria in 1994. They were copied by him in Switzerland from G.Robakidze’s archive.
These postcards have preserved quite unique history of Grigol Robakidze’s spiritual life. The lofty intensions of the over 80-year-old Georgian writer and his 31-year-old sweetheart stir emotions even today. These numerous postcards written in 1961-1962 and offer the first-rate material to the researchers. They have preserved the titles of Robakidze’s works unknown till present, publication peripetia, unknown details for creative histories of the texts, author’s evaluations, etc. As is seen from these letters Grigol Robakidze shared with his sweetheart his own creative novelties and sometimes even sent her his manuscript.
G. Robakidze’s letters sent to Gita prove that venerable writer being in love in the twilight of his life appeared to be rather active. He shared with Gita his own poems in German language: The Mortal Eagle, “St. Joan of Arc” and because of his sweetheart’s appreciation feels extremely happy. Gita Strachvitz was fascinated by The Guard of the Graal and wrote to Grigol: “This was my inner meeting with you”. The writer was especially pleased by these words. Robakidze himself in his letter to Gita of 14 September, 1961 defines the essence of this novel as: “After all everything is solved by man’s inner “I” that is placed on the scale of fortune”.
The letter of 15 June, 1961 provides important information concerning G. Robakidze’s unfound till now novel Bildnis Nitzsche: This portrait has been closed since 1948… This is not one more book about Nietzsche. My book in which absolutely new Nietzsche is represented remain unpublished”, wrote Robakidze to his beloved and informs her about difficulties of its publication: because of “Hitler” none of the known publishes dare to publish it. “If my composition be “Nazi” a little at least”, -says the writer with regret.
G. Robakidze’s letter of 14 September, 1961 gives interesting information about the unknown till now work: October issue of Journal Atlantis is dedicated to my native land. My essay designed as Georgians world image has been unfortunately abridged otherwise it would go beyond the scope of the journal. “Extremely beautiful” said the editor. In the same letter we read: “In these days I’ve thoroughly treated my old article. It concerns poetic images in antique world and modern. I will soon send you a copy of it”. We cannot state precisely which of G.Robakidze’s novels it concerns. To find it out the study of the above mentioned issue of the journal Atlantis will be helpful.
In the note written on 16 May, 1962 there are also indications on the writer’s unknown works: “Today I am sending you Pro domo sua. Soon I will send you Rilke’s Duino Elegies - an extract from the paper on the poetry of pagan and Christian times. I have established that poetic pictures of Christian time are much poorer in comparison with pagan.
In his letter of 18 May, 1962 G.Robakidze explains: Pro domo sua is intended for offspring. They should know who I am, shouldn’t they? I do not understand why the beginning of my manuscript seems sad to you.”
In Robakidze’s message of 4 June, 1962 one line from his unknown verse in German language “Die Sehenende” (The Sad) was included. There is an explanation of his also unknown another verse in German language “Als Knabe”. The writer sends to his sweetheart from extended composition “Aus dem Reich der Poesie” and informs that he has written the critics to Duino Elegies. Here G.Robakidze explains in an interesting way the symbol of a snake in his compositions: “In The Guard of the Graal it concerns the fall. Man’s personality dropped from God, crashed into his metaphysical boundary. In the same letter man’s metaphysical fear in relation to a snake is explained according to Damon da Mythos.
In his letter of 13 August, 1962 G.Robakidze informs Gita that in Munich one publisher got interested with his “Caucasian Novels”.
In the letter dated 29 August of the same year we read that soon the writer is intended to send Gita his essay “Meine erste Begegnung mit Hermann Keyserling” (for us this composition is also unknown today).
In the note written on 2 October, 1961 G.Robakidze introduced Gita to his “closest friends” Paolo Iashvili and Titsian Tabidze who in his words were the victims of “regime”. Here the writer explains that in the novel The Guard of the Graal Paolo is the prototype of protagonist “Odiliani” and Titsian is “Avala”. As it seems at that time the writer wrote “Georgian genius as extension” that is evidenced from the following lines written for Gita: “I am writing a long article on Georgian ballet. It will be published. Several copies will be sent to Georgia”.
One more work unknown to us is mentioned in the letter of 10 October of the same year in which Grigol addresses to Gita: “You are right. I shouldn’t have spend time on critics done in journal Slogan.. At the beginning of my Georgians visiting card it is written that this card is not a “response” to the mentioned article but the references about Georgia for European-Americal world where this country has been regarded as “polite” ethnographical issue”. For us this text and the history linked with it are unknown.
On 26 October, 1962 24 days before death Grigol Robakidze informs Gita that he had started to write their love story : “Everything will be presented clearly in it”, writes he. It has not yet been known to us whether the writer managed to realize his intention.
Epistolary allusions become the source of innovated findings of similar or different kind. The research in this direction unfolds new perspectives from the scientific viewpoint.
Kakabadze 1992: Kakabadze N. Grigol Robakidze’s German Portrait. J.”Literature and Art”, 1992, #5-6.
Nikolskaya 2002: NikolskayaT. Grigol Robakidze and Vyacheslav Ivanov. Russian-Italian Archive II. Compilers: Daniela Rits and Andrei Shishkin. Salerno: 2002 (in Russian).
Nikolskaya 1991: NikolskayaT. Georgian Dionysus. Translated from Russian by M.Kostava. J.”Mnatobi”, 1991, #6.
Robakidze 1998: Grigol Robakidze’s letters to countess Gita Shtrachvitzis. Translated from German by K.Shervashidze. Tbilisi: “Literarutis Matiane”, 1998.
Sharadze 2004: Sharadze R. Khariton Shavishvili. Tbilisi: 2004.
Khomeriki 2010: Khomeriki M. The Code of The Snake Skin. Tbilisi: “Universali”, 2010.
Grigol Robakidze’s personal letters to Vyacheslav Ivanov
Dear Vyacheslav Ivanovich,
I am writing an article and it is necessary to quote Nietzsche but I have difficulty in interpreting the saying: Wie in einem gleichnibartigen Traumbilde.
I have made an attempt to translate it in this way: As in a dream gleichnibartigen. Or: symbolic dream. But I feel that it is not correct. Would you be so kind to tell me how to render this saying?
Can I visit you and when?
Yours very sincerely,
Novyi Lane 3, ap.5
Firenze via Palestro 4 Pensione Reborata
Dear Vyacheslav Ivanovich,
Probably you remember me. I got acquainted with you in Petersburg, at your place, at Tavrid 24, to the best of my memory, in 1910. I met you several times at the meetings of religio-philosophical society. Then the war broke out, revolution. In 1921 I got your letter from Baku. Two or three years ago I learned that you have left the USSR.
I managed to abandon the organized “satanic” country in March, 1931. Since that time I have been living in Germany where I as a writer am kindly welcomed – (I am still writing in Georgian and then translate into German; I wrote only Damon and Mythos directly in German). In Germany I got acquainted with F.Stepun who told me about you. I have learned that you live in Italy in solitude. I have read your wonderful book on Dostoevsky in German language that I recommend everybody to read.
I came to Florence a week ago. There I got acquainted with a young German poet Frommel who gave me you address. And now I use an opportunity to write to you: I will plan to stay here one more week after which I am going to the island Capri. On my return back around the beginning of the second half of July I will stay in Rome and, I should very much like to see you if it is possible.
I am sending you the prospect of my books: if you wish you will immediately get it – I just to write to my publisher. In addition to this, my books have been printed in other publishing-houses of which one was translated in Italian entitled: “Le trecce di Medea” (Casa Editore “Sperling und Kupfer”, Milano).
With best wishes!
21. 6. 1958
Thank you very much indeed for your response. I am looking forward to meeting you. I have already written to my publisher and I do hope he will send my book Damon and Mythos quickly. I have written this book as letters to invisible brother.
With best wishes,
Address: Grigol Robakidze, Capri, Villa Floridiana.
27. 1. 1939.
Dear Vyacheslav Ivanovich,
My meeting with you in Rome last July will remain in my life for ever. I was so fascinated with the conversation that I forgot to ask you the name and patronymic name of your companion who concerned about you so much. Please, give her my best regards. You must have already got my book “Die Hutter des Grals”. In it you can come find the trace of your wisdom too. My wife Helen is Russian (and, so Ariyan), born Fialkina, the member of Reichschriftumskamer. She is Ariyan, has intention to visit Italy. When she was filling in a form at the local Italian consulate on the question, what Referenz could give her she referred to your name too. I do hope you have nothing against this. If they ask, you can reply that you know me and trust my information. I’ve gone through many troubles these months. Well, next time about this.
I wish you well.
Open post card. There is an address on the front side: Grigol Robakidze. Berlin. W.50, Nahodstr.9.
14. 4. 1939.
BBBerlin. W. 50. Nahodstr.9.
Dear Vyacheslav Ivanovich,
Your pleasant words made me extremely glad. Thank you very much. I hope you liked Paeschke (German poet – M.K.), a little bit “obstinate”, firm (in the sphere of searches) – and this is because of his young age. My wife is going to set off to Italy these days. She will visit you and bring small part of Russia. She is from Orel. I am working at a new book “Atlantishe Traum”. You will see in it your genuine trace of foreseeing: in this case I mean Terror antiques. The task I have set to myself is especially hard. I would like to show modern man who spiritually and, probably, in relation to race, is the offspring of the Atlantes. Please wish me success – inwardly, without words. It is not excluded that I will come to Italy again in the fall. Of course, it means I will see you. It is very important to me to talk with you on numerous issues.
I wish you calm and light days.
Yours Grigol Robakidze
My heartful wishes to your girl friend
8. 6. 1939
Dear Vyacheslav Ivanovich,
I am writing to you from Jene where I was invited by my publisher Diedenrich. My wife has already come back from Italy. Unfortunately, bad weather prevented her to enjoy in full the sights of this sacred country. .. Two meetings with you will be left in her memory for ever. She is fascinated with your personality both as Russian and human being. As to Paeschke he speaks only about you. .. My wife rendered me your words: let G.T. (Grigol Tit – M.K.) not lose faith in me. This moved me up to tears. Do not doubt in my love to you. Vyacheslav Ivanovich I am loyal of those who gave rise to these feelings. Thus, there is neither parting nor death. Among that small group of people who shared with me the mystery of the world one of the first is your name. This is evidenced from my books too… To my mind man is the only creature who is “thrown” to the world as a creative project. In a definite point he must realize two flows – what do you think it is… Divine and undivine. Man must become personal image of superpersonal. – And in this is the sense of sacrificial path of God to man, as well as backwards, sacrificial path from man to God… And everybody solve this task in different ways and therefore everybody is not equally immortal by mind cosmically and not metaphysically. I am deeply assured in it. Hence: how glad a man must be when he suddenly encounters somebody in whom these two flows – are solved up to the end with his force and abilities… On the details of this – in person. Probably I will be in Rome in August. I am looking forward to the conversation with you – “Pythagorean”.
With best wishes,
Your Grigol Robakidze.
P.S. Warm hello to your companion. I know that it is hard to you to response the letters. Therefore I do not expect the response. I have only one request: during deep contemplation please think about me sometimes.