Repression of Writers in Soviet Georgia: A BGS Talk on 4th September 2023 at 6.30pm

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British Georgian Society, TALK


The Athenaeum Club, LONDON. SW1Y 5ER

4th September 2023, 6.30pm

Most writers have experienced some form of censorship, or even repression. But none even remotely to the degree of Soviet Georgia’s Union of Writers in 1937. During the Great Terror, nearly all were forced to write denouncements of their closest friends, or love poems to Stalin and the Party. Failure to do so could be a death warrant. By its end, one quarter of the Union would be dead, either to murder or suicide.

Tbilisi’s powerful new Museum of Repressed Writers, documents such far reaching effects of censorship. Not only on the lives and families of writers – but culture in general. It shows the mechanics of repression – archive documents with the phrases ‘to be executed’ against names; communal statements declaring the nation’s finest writers ‘vile parasites;’ film footage of poets reciting devotional poems to leaders of the Communist Party – who they hated. The systematic polarisation of public and private life – on an epic scale. And a warning to us all.


is one of the world’s top scholars on literature during Georgia’s (and Russia’s) Soviet period. His book ‘The Literature of Georgia,’ originally published by Oxford University’s Clarendon Press in 1994, provides a vivid documentation and overview of the material in the Museum. He is a lively and knowledgeable speaker, creator of the first official Georgian-English dictionary, and first-time translator of many excellent Georgian texts into English, via his own Garnet Press.


is the Director of Tbilisi’s Writer’s House, container of the Museum of Repressed Writers. The Museum and its untold story, had been her dream for years, finally realised this year with help from US Aid Georgia. The Writer’s House is the actual home of the Writer’s Union of Georgia and its elegant, Art Nouveau rooms witness to many of the dramas now so graphically displayed on its walls. She will be showing us material from the Museum.

Athenaeum Club London Nov 2006

The ATHENAEUM CLUB (and dress code)

with its origins in literature and science, book-lined walls, eminent members and elegant chambers, is the perfect venue for such a talk. True to its belief in the contemplative, it asks mobile phones are switched to silent and dress code is smart. No trainers, denim, sports clothing. Men are requested to wear ties. We are kindly invited by one of its members – and British Georgian Society ex-officio Board Member, Craig Oliphant. The event will be held upstairs in its Smoking Room.


Tickets are bookable through Eventbrite and must be booked in advance by 28th August. The cost is £10 for BGS members and £20 for non-members. Members please first email the BGS for the discount code at We will send it. It can then be applied when ordering.