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Autobiography as a genre – about translation of reality

მანანა მათიაშვილი, ფოტო: ნათია დანელიშვილი, ცოდნის კაფე/ Knowledge Cafe
ავტორის გვერდი Manana Matiashvili 2020-03-03 4481

Photo credit: Natia Danelishvili , Knowledge Cafe

There are lots of books on my desk, near my computer, bed, on the shelves, but I cannot read them. I have started all the books, with different progress, but none is finished, especially, there is not a single book, I’ve started and finished in one breath.  I missed that feeling - reading a book in one breath...

It’s what I want to write about, how my dream came true and how I read the autobiographical novel by Lana Gogoberidze "What I remember and how I remember" [2019] in one breath.

Maybe, it is not accidental that the book, returning my passion to read, was the autobiography. This is the genre, I’ve been attracted since 2005, not as a reader, but as a translator …

It was the time, when I decided to translate “I Æventyrland – opplevet og drømt I Kaukasien” by Knut Hamsun, which was quite a brave and easy step from this point of view … though, I started to process the text and finished it in several months. I remember, it was summer. I was sitting at the table, on the second floor of two-storied country house, with my first personal computer there (P2 maybe). I don’t remember much, I only remember one image – myself in front of the computer, Norwegian text with notes and remarks, which is quite different from both state languages of Norway, closer to old Danish, and of course, my favorite and inseparable dictionaries. Not quite clearly, but I remember that grandmother and aunt were taking care of two-months old Keso during daytime, they watched her, entertained her and I also remember my enormous astonishment about naïve and simple behavior of Hamsun, this serious writer.

And now, I’m trying to keep my memory on this screen and thereby, I’m thinking about the characteristics of writing the autobiography. I can imagine, how many hidden and forgotten details, features, feelings and flavors are popping out of the author’s mind, when he or she tries to remember the past and tries to recall it or to scatter it on paper. Maybe they are righting in a way, we want them to see and remember or do they think about it, at all? What defines the tone of writing, depth of honesty and how the autobiographical story is related to the impartial reality; what is the level of impartiality, to what extent it intersects with the imagination … and when I’m thinking about his, I remember about Hamsun again, as there are so many invented or imagined stories in the notes, from his travel to Caucasus that for the researchers it is difficult to differ them from the real facts, even now, as it was difficult for him to keep the line between the reality and fiction.

But in return, you are the captive of hard feeling of truth, when you are reading the adventure of this diligent, talented and exceptional director. As if you are seeing that this was only way to tell about the adventure, just as in the book.

There is an idea that, when the writers are writing about themselves, they are already thinking about the reader and this is already imaginative writing - ordinary fiction and the more the authors “are reading” their life and try to interpret it for their readers, the more such texts have potential to turn into a literary invention.

I don’t know, what was her attitude to the “material” as a director, but I do think that while working on this book, “extremely sensible talent” and montage principles would have been decisive, and I think that both factors are very important in writing an autobiography. Since everything in this genre depends on how the life challenges will be solved, how the cause and effect will be arranged, and how the reader will be convinced of the logic of this unimaginable story, and how everything will be arranged to ensure the correct place of every wide or massive shots, music, tone, gestures and many other details that I do not understand from a professional point of view, but the correct setting of which creates a film that I love to watch.

It is not accidental that Lana Gogoberidze writes about the fact that the post-production is the most favorite part for her in filmmaking, as this the only stage, where she feels herself as an independent and almighty creator. And I do think that, the montage principles determined the structure of the autobiographical book of Lana Gogoberidze and she created the book, which is genuinely felt as a film, full of poetry.

"Writers about Social and Political Problems" is a project of PEN Georgia. Our partner is Writers' House Of Georgia.

Translated by Tamar Mirianashvili

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