Sundukian, Gabriel

Sundukian, Gabriel Mkrtichevich


Born June 29 (July 11), 1825, in Tbilisi; died there Mar. 16 (29), 1912. Armenian writer and playwright; a founder of critical realism in Armenian literature.

Sundukian graduated from the department of Oriental studies of the faculty of history and philology at the University of St. Petersburg in 1850. That same year he returned to Tbilisi and worked as a translator in the office of the namestnik (vicegerent) of the Caucasus, later becoming chief of the management division of the Roads Administration of the Caucasus.

Sundukian began his career as a writer and public figure in the 1860’s. He helped organize the Armenian theater, with which his entire literary career was closely associated. His first play was Sneezing at Night Means Good Luck (staged 1863; published 1866). Subsequent plays included Hullabaloo (also entitled Khatabala, 1866; published 1881), Oskan Petrovich in the Next World (1866; published 1899), The Others, or The New Diogenes (1869; published 1907), One More Sacrifice (1870; published 1894), Pepo (1871; published 1876), The Broken Hearth (1873; published 1883), and Husband and Wife (1888; published 1893). Late in life, Sundukian wrote the plays Love and Freedom (published 1910) and The Will (1912). These plays, however, lacked the realistic power of his best works; in the last two plays, Sundukian attempted to resolve social and ethical conflicts through moral conciliation.

Sundukian’s plays delineated an entire period in the history of Armenian dramaturgy. They reflected contemporary life, thus affirming the victory of realism. He transformed the Armenian comedy from the vaudeville to the play of social statement and depicted the development of the Armenian bourgeoisie and the intensification of social contradictions in Armenia. Sundukian’s realism and democratism found vivid expression in the play Pepo, whose hero is a man of the people.

The most important of Sundukian’s prose works is the novella Varen’ka’s Evening (1877), which portrayed the tragedy of an ordinary person in the context of bourgeois life. The topical satires Conversations of Amal and Conversations of Adid, denounced injustice and exploitation. Sundukian’s plays have been translated into many languages. The Armenian Academic Theater in Yerevan was named after Sundukian.


Sundukyan, G. Erkeri liakatar zhoghovatsu, vols. 1–4. Yerevan, 1951–61.
Erkeri zhoghovatsu, vols. 1–3. Yerevan. 1973–75.
In Russian translation:
Izbrannoe. [Introductory article by S. Arutiunian.] Moscow, 1953.


Abov, G. Gabriel Sundukian. Yerevan, 1956.
Larut’yunyan, S. Gabriel Sundukyan. Yerevan, 1960.
Sargsyan, G. Haymets dramaturgě. Yerevan, 1976.