Gaponov, Boris

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GAPONOV, BORIS (Dov ; 1934–1972), translator from Georgian and Russian into Hebrew, lexicographer of Hebrew. Gaponov was born in Eupatoria, Crimea, but grew up in Kutaisi, Georgia, where his family moved during World War ii. As a youth he acquired a basic knowledge of Hebrew from his grandfather, afterwards continuing to study the language on his own. For a short period of time he studied Persian at the Oriental Languages Institute of Moscow University but had to give it up because of financial difficulties. He also worked as a reporter for the newspaper of the Kutaisi automobile plant. In the 1960s he turned to literary translation, translating both Russian and Georgian prose and poetry into Hebrew.

In 1969 his translation of the greatest masterpiece of Georgian medieval literature, The Man in the Panther's Skin (12th century) by Shot'ha Rust'haveli, was published in Israel. This monumental work, executed with brilliance and faithful to the form and spirit of the original, testified to Gaponov's great poetic talent and immediately became a classic among poetic translations into Hebrew. In 1970 Gaponov was awarded the Tchernichowsky Prize for this work.

In 1971 he came to Israel and in the same year published his translation of A Hero of Our Time by Lermontov, which was also highly praised by the critics. In 1972 he received the Shazar Prize for refugee repatriate writers, but died shortly after. A. *Shlonsky played a prominent role in the literary fate of Gaponov. Their correspondence began when Gaponov was still living in the U.S.S.R. and continued for many years. Among Gaponov's unpublished works are a dictionary of Hebrew phrases, a work of considerable merit on which he had been working for 15 years, as well as numerous translations of poems by Lermontov, articles on the Rust'haveli epic, and poems in Russian on Jewish themes.

[Michael Zand]