Bringing together feasting, drinking and toasting, the Georgian banquet has acquired the status of a national trait. Yet how unique is the Georgian feast? The Georgian practice of toasting appears to have arisen from a profoundly literary negotiation that points beyond the Caucasus region to the traditions of Russian and British romantic poetry. To study this genealogy is to show how a “national” custom was forged out of the cosmopolitan social interactions taking place between the nineteenth-century Russian and Georgian elites. My talk is thus a contribution to ongoing debates on the relationship between the national, the imperial, and the cosmopolitan, and seeks to show how literary history and philology can productively dialogue with post-Soviet anthropology and the “imperial turn” in Russian historiography.
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