THE STORY OF A BIRD AND A MAN
A good narrator is something Georgian Literature has lacked for years. Archil Kikodze is a good narrator. But the narrator is not just a writer; he has to have something of the epic poet about him. His narrative is calm and tranquil. He is not in a rush. But, unlike epics, a narrative prose writer’s protagonists are ordinary people, not heroes. And, unlike epics, his stories are not fiction even if they are invented by the author. He derives his material from experience, and according to the German philosopher, Walter Benjamin, experience gets its authority from death. Where there is experience, we also find mystery. Thus, these short stories are detective stories, even though they are not meant to be. Archil Kikodze slowly, quietly, step-by-step leads his readers towards unvarnished truth that is neither beautiful, nor mysterious and therefore all the more convincing. The Crime and Punishment, Pride and Prejudice, Love and Hate of this detective is Georgia, Georgia of family stories that are more real than Georgian history in school textbooks. Kikodze does not deal in black and white. He treats executioners and victims, as well as their children and grandchildren, equally. The legacy of their crimes or their love is his main concern.
‘Archil Kikodze’s stories lead the reader very slowly, quietly and stealthily towards a bare, unavoidable and unvarnished final truth which is neither beautiful nor secret and which is therefore all the more plausible.’
Zaal Andronikashvili, literary critic, 2013
Translated into English by Natalia Bukia-Perets and Victoria Field
The Story of a Bird and a Man
1. The King
When we go up the last tower, all the children, without exception, are trapped. There is nowhere for them to run. Their teachers managed to corral them on the flat grass-covered area. Before that, the children kept catching up with us on the slopes around the castle, chattering and clamouring for attention. ‘Hello!’ They greeted us on the narrow mountain path by raising their hands, then, somehow they’d manage to circumvent us and move up the path in front of us again. ‘Hello!’ They thought I was a foreigner, not just the children but their breathless teachers too. Poor things. They were dressed up for a day out and could hardly walk on their high heels. They tried to reach those at the front by calling out in an attempt to make them wait. They may live to regret their excursion to the Khornabuji Fortress, especially given the numbers of children they have to supervise, who are running all over the top of the mountain and may fall somewhere. The teachers shout at them, cajole them, threaten them. It’s all in vain. Would you be able to catch up with them? Could you possibly control them? There’s nowhere further for us to go up, so we settle down nearby at the edge of a small courtyard. I remove every item from my body in turn. Tripod, telescope, field glasses and two cameras. I have nothing of my own with me apart from a bottle of water and my Canon. The rest belongs to my old Englishman and is here for his entertainment... (See PDF)
Translated into German by Natia Mikeladze-Bakhsoliani
Vögel und Männer
1. Der König
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