Diary of Georgia's national hero Maro Makashvili translated for Francophone readers

The diary of Maro Makashvili is preserved at the Literature Museum in Tbilisi. Photo: Mzia Saganelidze/Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Agenda.ge, 25 Feb 2022 - 16:11, Tbilisi,Georgia

A diary written by Maro Makashvili, a Georgian army nurse who died during the 1921 Soviet invasion of the country, will be introduced to readers in French this year, bringing the impressions and thoughts of the patriotic young woman to an audience outside Georgia.

Writers' House of Georgia revealed this week the diary, which details the aspirations and dreams of the teenage Makashvili and ends in June 1920, would be released by Meduza publishing house in France, courtesy of translation by Maia Giorkhelidze.

The French publisher said the diary bore importance as not many historical notes remained from the Georgian sources of the early 20th century, and in particular the three-year First Democratic Republic Makashvili swore her allegiance to, and died defending from the invading Red Army.

Maro Makashvili's diary is not only the diary of a young Georgian girl who recounts moments of life through which we all go through during adolescence, but it takes on all the more importance because we know very little of things from that time and from that small country

- Meduza publishing house

In her diary, Makashvili talks about both her individual thoughts - her wish to travel to France and Italy for studies, her ideas about gender and society, love and more - and her emotional connection to the Georgian republic that declared its independence from the Russian Empire in 1918.

The 210-page French translation by Maia Giorkhelidze comes with a preface by Literature Museum Director Lasha Bakradze. Image via Meduza Publishing.

Born in 1901, Makashvili studied in a women's gymnasium before studying philosophy and literature. Memoirs from her father Kote said she had great knowledge of literature and a talent for writing.

Her last diary ends on June 28, 1920, just a few months before Maro leaves for the front as a nurse's aide. They trace the state of mind of the Georgians of this young generation [ready to] die for their country

- Meduza publishing house

Despite her parents' efforts of keeping her away from the frontlines of the February 1921 invasion, the 19-year-old reportedly asked a friend to let her fill her spot in the ranks of nurses and their aides helping the soldiers defending the country. The fateful decision led to her death from shrapnel on February 19 near Kojori, located near capital Tbilisi.

Makashvili's diary was kept in successive families of her relatives over the following decades, hidden from public view for the fear of confiscation and punishment from Soviet authorities, with her sister Mariam - born two years after Maro's death - keeping all her personal items and the diary before handing them over to the Literature Museum in Tbilisi.

The public awareness of her life and death has increased in Georgia in the recent decades, with President Giorgi Margvelashvili posthumously awarding her the title of the National Hero of Georgia in 2015, with Makashvili becoming the first woman to receive the honour. A public park, a post stamp and a room in the Georgian parliament were also given her name between 2015-2021.

Meduza will release the 210-page diary this year, with more details available on the publishing house's website.