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Tabidze (ტაბიძე) Galaktion

Tabidze (ტაბიძე) Galaktion  (18921959)

Galaktion Tabidze was a leading Georgian poet of the twentieth century whose writings profoundly influenced all subsequent generations of Georgian poets. He survived Stalin's Great Purge of the 1930s, which claimed lives of many of his fellow writers, friends and relatives, but came under heavy pressure from the Soviet authorities. Those tragic years plunged him into depression and alcoholism. He was eventually placed in a psychiatric hospital in Tbilisi, where he committed suicide.

Galaktion Tabidze was born in the village Chqvishi near Vani, western Georgia (then part of Imperial Russia). His father, a local teacher Vasil Tabidze, died two months before Galaktion was born. From 1900 to 1910, he studied at the seminaries of Kutaisi and Tbilisi, and later worked as a teacher. Although his very first book, influenced by Symbolism, garnered acclaim in 1914, he took longer than the other Georgian symbolists from the Blue Horns group to attract recognition. This being due largely to his preference to solitude, he gained a moniker of "Chevalier of the Order of Loneliness" from his cousin Titsian Tabidze.

His next poetic collection Cráne aux fleurs artistiques (1919) proved his superiority to every other contemporary poet of Georgia and made him an untarnished leader of Georgian poetry for several decades to come. Most of his writings were impregnated with themes of isolation, lovelessness, and nightmarish presentiments, as seen in his masterpieces Without Love (1913), I and the Night (1913), Azure Horses (1915), and The Wind Blows (1924).

During the Stalinist repressions of 1937, Tabidze's wife Olga Okudzhava, from the family of Old Bolsheviks, was arrested and exiled to Siberia where she died in 1944. Galaktions cousin and fellow poet, Titsian Tabidze, like many of the poets associates, was also arrested and eventually executed. Tabidze himself was interrogated and heavily beaten by Lavrentiy Beria. This plunged Galaktion into depression and alcoholism. His long silence and solitude saved him from the purges however; he continued to receive titles and awards, and published new poems, but the poets life was completely distorted. Severely ill and depressed, he was eventually placed in the Tbilisi psychiatric hospital where he ended his life, through jumping to his death from the hospital window in 1959. He was interred at the Mtatsminda Pantheon, his funerals being attended by tens of thousands.

Tabidze authored thousands of poems that established him as one of the greatest Georgian poets and had an immense impact on modern Georgian literature. His archive of about 100,000 items in the Literary Museum in Tbilisi still awaits full investigation. He has been translated into Russian, French, English, and German.

USSR, 1973, Galaktion Tabidze

USSR, 1983, Galaktion Tabidze

USSR, 1984.02.02, Tabidze monument in Tbilisi

USSR, 1984.06.05, Tabidze monument in Batumi

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