As the title suggests, there are two contrasting stories unfolding in this novel:
One is of the Norwegian poetess and dramatist Dagny Juel (1867-1901) – a beautiful, artistic, creative woman, whose errant life brings her to a totally foreign country, where she dies falling victim to deranged male fantasies. DAgny Juel was an inspiration to such celebrities as Edward munch, August Strindberg, Gustav Vigeland, and was the “Queen” of Berlin bohemia in 1890s.
The other story is a phantasmagoric mixture of religious mysticism and eroticism, mythic origins of arts and politics. It is a play with various cultural themes, both primitive and highly developed, traversing such extremes as Shamanic Art and Bach’s Art of the Fugue, Gnosticism and Modernist esthetics, Magic and Linguistics…. This mix of themes and ideas is rendered in a story of a so called Agape – the Love Feast – a half-religious half-artistic event..
The topos where the Love Feast interacts/intersects with reality is a city of limitless feasting and wine-crazed discussion – Tiflis.
Some of the characters of the novel are historical – the young Joseph Stalin, his terrorist friend Camo, a visionary and guru George Gurjieff, a Georgian pose Vazha Pshavela, a primitivist Georgian artist Niko Pirosmani, August Strindberg, and others. In other cases, made-up characters like Gornahor, a raven-like creature from plant Saturn, are introduced, as are several concepts, many adapted from Gurjieff’s autobiographical and cosmological writings.
About the Author
Zurab Karumidze got a degree in English Language and Literature from Tbilisi State University. He obtained a PhD (1984) for the dissertation on the Wit and Conceit in the Poetry of John Donne. He worked for years as a Research Associate for the Center for XX Century Literary Studies at Tbilisi State University. In 1994-1995 he spent a stint at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as a Visiting Fulbright Scholar studying Post-Modernist American Meta Fiction. Two of his short stories (translated into English by the author) were published in the USA (Clockwatch Review, Bloomington, IL, 1996). He worked as an editor of English language magazines in Tbilisi – Georgia/Caucasus Profile (1995-2000) and Caucasus Context (2002-2005). His publications include a collection of short stories – Opera (1998), a couple of novels — The Winedark Sea (2000) and Of Goats and Men (2003). He has written a novel in English – Dagny or a Love Feast (2006) which still awaits a publisher. He co-edited (with James Wertsch) a book – Enough: Rose Revolution in the Republic of Georgia, 2003 (Nova Science Publishers, New York, 2005). His publications include essays on culture, collective memory and national narratives. His book on the history of jazz music – The Life of Jazz – came out in 2009. (From book.gov.ge)
Dagny or a Love Feast is a play with various cultural themes, traversing Shamanic art and Bach’s art of the fugue, Gnosticism and modernist aesthetics, Georgian national narratives, epics and political history, magic and linguistics.