Aleksandr Kazbegi

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kazbegi, Aleksandr


Born Jan. 8 (20), 1848, in the village of Stepantsminda, now Kazbegi; died Dec. 10 (22), 1893, in Tbilisi. Georgian writer.

Born into the family of the administrator of Gortsy Okrug, Kazbegi conducted the affairs of his family’s huge estate after his father’s death. He freed the peasants from taxes but soon, rejecting the role of a feudal lord, left for the mountains. He lived the hard life of a shepherd for seven years and gained a profound knowledge of communal ways.

In 1879, Kazbegi settled in Tbilisi and worked on the paper Droeba, which printed his novel Elgudzha in 1881; the novel contains dramatic portrayals of heroic mountain peasants, fighters for honor and freedom. The novel was very successful, and the entire edition was confiscated by the police and burned. He then published his novellas Eliso (1882), The Patricide (1882), Tsiko (1883), The Rejected One (1884), Khevisberi Gocha (1884), and Shepherd (1885). All Kazbegi’s works were written between 1880 and 1886. He exposed the lawless acts of tsarist officials and feudal lords and created heroic, noble, and brave peasants. Deprivation and persecution drove Kazbegi to serious mental illness, and he died alone and penniless.

Love of the motherland in Kazbegi’s work is inseparable from ideals of fairness, humanity, and readiness for struggle with the oppressors of the people. Almost all Kazbegi’s heroes perish in unequal battle, but his novels are permeated nonetheless with faith in the inexhaustible powers of the people.

Kazbegi depicted the captivating landscapes of the Georgian mountain country. A certain idealization of the past and of the laws of clan society are linked in his works with rejection of the stern laws of the community. A keen sense of contemporaneity and the power of authenticity in his descriptions rank Kazbegi with the great masters of 19th-century Georgian prose.

Kazbegi translated into Georgian A. S. Griboedov’s Woe From Wit, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and verses by M. Iu. Lermontov.


Qazbegi, A. T’khzulebani, vols. 1–4. Tbilisi, 1948–50.
T’khzulebani, 2nd ed. Tbilisi, 1962.
T’khzulebani or tomad, vols. 1–2. Introduction by G. Natroshvilis. Tbilisi, 1955.
In Russian translation:
Izbrannoe, vols. 1–2. Tbilisi, 1948–49.
Izbr. proizvedeniia, vols. 1–2. Tbilisi, 1957.
Eliso: Povesti i rasskazy. Introduction by E. Lundberg. Moscow, 1964.


Baramidze, A., Sh. Radiani, and B. Zhgenti. Istoriia gruzinskoi literatury. Tbilisi, 1958.
Dzhibladze, G. Romantiki i realisty v gruzinskoi literature 19 v. Tbilisi, 1963.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.