Famous Georgian Writer About the Novel “Freedom”

The well-known Georgian writer and publicist David Shemokmedeli  has written an article about the book “Freedom” by Afag Masud,  People’s Writer of Azerbaijan, published in Georgia.

AZERTAC presents the article published in the Georgian literary newspaper Literaturuli Sakartvelo (Literary Georgia).

 

David Shemokmedeli

President of All-Georgia Rustaveli Society,

the winner of the Literary Award “Galaktion Tabidze”, a writer-publicist 

 

WORKS BY AFAG MASUD IN GEORGIAN LANGUAGE

A significant event took place in the world of Georgian literature ‒ the book “Freedom” by Afag Masud, the famous Azerbaijani writer, was presented to the Georgian readers. Along with the novel of the same name, the book includes the author’s 11 short stories. With the publication of the book in Georgian, the Georgian-Azerbaijani literary ties, which have a great literary heritage, entered a new stage. We believe that such fruitful literary ties should be continued in the future as well.

The book has been translated into Georgian by Imir Mammadli, the well-known Azerbaijani and Georgian-languages writer. Here I would like to note that Imir Mammadli is the author of the Azerbaijani translation of Shota Rustaveli’s epic poem “The Knight of the Tiger Skin”, our jewel of the spiritual heritage, which we cherish as the apple of our eye. He was awarded the highest medal of our country ‒ Laureate of the State. Though Imir Mammadli has been living and working in Azerbaijan for a long time, b the richness of the Georgian language in the skillfully translated language of this book can be seen in all its shades.

Before talking about the literary values ​​of the book, I think it would be interesting to acquaint the general public readership with some features of Afag Masud’s biography: people’s writer, honored art worker, full member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Board Chair of the Azerbaijan State Centre, graduated from the Faculty of Journalism at Baku State University; she is the author of many short stories, novels, plays and essays. In addition to a successful literary creativity, she carries out a very intensive translation activity.  She has translated samples from both Western and Eastern literature. Her translations of Sufi literature also deserve attention. Several plays of the writer have been staged. TV films have been shot on her scenario. In 2000, there was the defence of the doctoral dissertation at the University of Vienna devoted to the analysis of Afag Masud’s works. The writer was repeatedly awarded the TURKSOY medal for her contribution to the development of theatrical art. In 2005, she became the winner of the “International Stage Competition” organized by the Ministry of Culture of Turkey, TURKSOY and the Eurasian Writers’ Union; she was awarded the honorary title “Cultural Ambassador” of the Georgian Writers’ Union for the translation and popularization of Georgian literature and other awards.

“Freedom” as a very important work presented to the reader in recent years is a complex, metaphorical novel that reveals the real essence of freedom. On the other hand, without exaggeration, it can be called a “psychological novel”. It is possible to attribute the author’s writing style to the “cold romanticism”. The work is also rich in elements of magical realism. At the same time, she skillfully reveals the hidden layers of the passive subconscious. That subconscious mind, which, when awakens, can cause fateful and decisive changes in a person’s thinking and life.

 “Freedom” depicts the image of a typical post-Soviet state where the real and caricature dictatorship, anarchism and management are mixed together. This state can be compared with any state in the world. One can get the impression that the events unfolding in the novel had happened in Georgia as well. Any reader of the post-Soviet space might have such a feeling.  Because what happened in the novel is familiar and native to everyone.

The heroes of the novel are confused; they cannot distinguish where the reality ends and the dream begins; the borders of reality and unreality are erased here. Explaining the criterion of what is real is one of the eternal and complex themes that philosophy has studied throughout the history. After all, what is real or what is truth is a controversial issue in itself.

“What is freedom?” ‒ this is the leading storyline of the novel. In some religions, the essence of freedom is explained as the perception of truth. The Bible states: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” The attempt to understand the essence of freedom has always been an embarrassment that world philosophy has not been able to solve. This topic has always worried esotery too ‒ Rudolf Steiner’s “The Philosophy of Freedom" and others...

The characters of the novel “Freedom” are also in this situation; they do not think about the essence of truth... Due to the fact that the concept of “freedom” is not understood in a country that has just gained its independence, some people understand it as the right to violence, while for the rest of the population, freedom is completely meaningless, there is no need to use it. It is unheard and unnecessary. Leo Tolstoy gave a clear example of unnecessary freedom in his novel “A Confession.” When Nekhlyudov freed his slaves, they could not hide their displeasure and complained to their owners: “What has happened? What was the wrong we did?”

In Afaq Masud’s novel, we find one of the main characters in such a position: “…Instead of establishing the true freedom for the people, the true independence of the country, they create the spirit of eternal struggle for freedom and independence...”

   What worries the author is misunderstanding of the concept of “freedom” in the distorted state model, its expression as anarchy and arbitrariness, which, in turn, leads to the complete bankruptcy and degradation of the society and moral values as a whole. In the neurotic background of the state where such an atmosphere prevails, things that happen beyond reality are described, the novel turns us into travelers of both the real and the dream worlds. Here, dreams are undeniable phantoms that in advance forewarn the characters about the imminent danger. This reminds us of Bilgamis, who benefited from the warning of dreams about how he might escape the vengeance of gods. Thus, the characters of the novel become participants of a separate life in their dreams, the subconscious mind, which has been dormant for many years, wakes up and moves to an active stage...

Such an awakening is observed not only in the novel but also in the 11 stories included in the book and causes a series of awakenings in the reader’s hidden subconscious. The main feature that characterizes the texts here is deep psychologism. The idea is not on the surface, but in the lower layers, it is hermetic. In most cases, the main idea is conveyed through artistic symbols. A clear example of this is the story “The Death of a Rabbit.” The story is about male and female feelings, in other words, about the cold relationship between “In” and “Yan” that arose after the love became extinct.

    “A white rabbit” is a symbol of love, and the hedgehog is a symbol of the replacement of loneliness with harmony, the joining of female and male impulses, and the high, romantic relationships that arise between the characters. Although “Romeo and Juliet” is called a “tragedy", it ends with an optimistic ending, in the end love does not die, on the contrary, it triumphs. In “The Death of a Rabbit”, the heroes of the short story live and continue their lives in the cruel reality presented to us by the author. But there is no love that lies at the heart of everything, that is, the “white rabbit” is dead!

Afag Masud’s other stories are rich in similar psychological events and nuances and are extremely influential.

The writer’s words are deep and full of meaning. What is going on is characterized by high artistic aesthetic means, subtle shades. It is enough to mention only a few of them: “...In the first days, Rena passed on the keypads of the piano carefully, as if walking over a swamp, but after a few months, she already started to play Mozart's “Requiem” with big chords...” (“The German Church “), “Sad shadows were shining on her face...” (“The Death of a Rabbit"), “A strong wind blew again and uprooted something somewhere on the roof...” (“The Accident”) and so on. The examples go on and on.

In the novel we are talking about, we can come across similiar interesting artistic elements: “...The Minister of Culture, a former agronomist, abolished the cello as a musical instrument with an official decision: “Violin, trombone, hell, they’re useful somehow, why do we need this cello?! It's the same as a violin, the only difference is that you play it putting its tip on the ground.”

In conclusion, I’d like to say that very interesting moments and significant events await the Georgian reader who is going to get acquainted with the work of the extremely important Azerbaijani writer Afag Masud.