September 01, 2015

Prose of the Mountains


Prose of the Mountains
Church of the Holy Trinity atop Mt. Qazbegi, the focus of the third story excerpted here. Emil Stefanov

The three stories excerpted here indicate the wide spectrum of Qazbegi’s interests. “Notes of a Shepherd” (1883) chronicles the writer’s decision to live as a mountaineer for seven years. “Eliso” (1882) chronicles the perilous deportation of Chechens to Ottoman lands, and anticipates Tolstoy’s Hadji Murat (1912) through its sympathy for the Chechens’ plight. The excerpt from the novella-length “Khevis Beri Gocha” (1884) displays the author’s ability to move backwards in time, as he evokes the famous Holy Trinity church that still stands atop Mt. Qazbegi, one of Georgia’s most spectacular mountains.

The excerpts published here are from the newly released collection of Aleksandre Qazbegi’s stories, The Prose of the Mountains, translated from the Georgian by Rebecca Gould and published by Central European University Press. 

In 18— I decided to become a shepherd. I was prepared to traverse hills and fields in pursuit of this trade. I wanted to know the lives of the people, to experience from within the pleasures and fears suffusing their lives. Being a mountaineer, I had a few sheep already. I had received other sheep in exchange for some plots of land. So I picked up a stick and my gun and became a shepherd.


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