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Sayat’-Nova, an 18th-century troubadour. A Biographical and Literary Study


Series:  
Authors:  Dowsett C.J.F.
Year: 1996
ISBN: 978-90-6831-795-4
Pages: XVIII-508 p.
Price: 105 EURO


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Summary:
This book investigates the life and work, and the literary and historical background, of the most popular Armenian poet and minstrel of the early modern era, Arut'in called Sayat'-Nova (c. 1712-1795). The most important of his songs in Armenian, Tiflis Armenian, Georgian and Azeri Turkish, one in four languages (these plus Persian), are edited in a unified transliteration from the original Georgian and Armenian scripts on the texts in the Tetrak, a 1765/6 MS in at least partly his own hand, and versions made in 1823 at St. Petersburg by his youngest son Ioane, with notes on variants, loanwords, cryptica ("trobar clus"), puns, etc. Six odes in poor Russian, hitherto ignored, are examined for motive and sentiments. Chapters are devoted to versification, genres and influences (mainly Persian), an attempt being made to analyse the attraction of his verse. Comparisons are drawn with the work, and where relevant the lives of Sappho, Ovid (fellow exile), Hâfiz, Bernard de Ventadorn (fellow victim of the backbiter), Shakespeare (and his Dark Lady), etc. Sayat'-Nova's poems are mainly love-songs, others, mainly in Georgian, are complaints to his patron (eulogised as "the Emperor of China", etc.) concerning injustices at his hand and those of Georgian courtiers who held him, and Armenian Orthodox (which he was proud to be, as he declared in Azeri) among Georgian Orthodox and Muslims, for an unwelcome upstart. His religious odes (ilahis) and his religious views, to some extent coloured by Islam, are discussed. According to tradition, he died a martyr, refusing to apostasize when challenged by the troops of Agha Mahmad Khan on the invasion of Tiflis in 1795. Sayat'-Nova considered himself a builder of bridges between the various ethnic cultures of Georgia in whose languages he sang, reflecting the statesman-like aspirations of his royal patron. The present work is one of the few to treat the poems in each language on an equal basis.


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