Khetagurov, Kosta

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Khetagurov, Kosta Levanovich


(also Konstantin L. Khetagurov; pen name, Kosta). Born Oct. 3 (15), 1859, in the village of Nar, in what is now Alagir Raion, Severnaia Osetiia ASSR; died Mar. 19 (Apr. 1), 1906, in the village of Georgievsko-Osetinskoe, Kuban’ Oblast (now the village of Kosta Khetagurov, Karachai-Cherkess Autonomous Oblast). Buried in Vladikavkaz (now Ordzhonikidze). Ossetic poet, public figure, and revolutionary democrat. The founder of Ossetic literature.

The son of a peasant, Khetagurov grew up in the mountains of Ossetia. He studied at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts from 1881 to 1885 but did not graduate because of financial difficulties. From 1885 to 1891 he lived in Vladikavkaz, where he engaged primarily in educational work; he was exiled from Terek Oblast for five years for his journalism. In February 1893, Khetagurov became a contributor to the newspaper Severnyi Kavkaz (published in Stavropol’), in which capacity he waged an ideological and political struggle against the tsarist administration in the Caucasus. In 1902 he was again in Vladikavkaz; in 1903 he became seriously ill and was unable to resume his social and literary work.

Khetagurov wrote poems, short stories, plays, and articles in Ossetic and Russian. In the Caucasus and in Russia he was known primarily as a journalist; in Ossetia he was known as a poet. Because there were no Ossetic-language periodicals, all of Khetagurov’s articles appeared in the Russian press. Khetagurov’s journalism brought him renown as an incorruptible defender of the mountain peoples of the Caucasus; he was known for his opposition to poverty, to the mountain peoples’ lack of political rights, to administrative coercion, and to the deliberate fostering of ignorance, obscurantism, and national divisions. His most important articles include “Letters From Vladikavkaz” (1896), “On the Eve” (1897), and “Essential Questions” (1901). Continuing the traditions of the Russian revolutionary democrats, Khetagurov championed the unification of, and equal rights for, all the peoples of Russia.

Khetagurov left an extensive poetic legacy that includes lyric poems, romantic and satiric narrative poems, fables, and poems for children; he also reworked folk legends and parables. His Russian poetry was published in 1895 in a separate edition (Poems) in Stavropol’, but the full power and charm of his poetry can only be felt in the Ossetic works, which were published in the collection Ossetic Lyre (1889). Khetagurov’s concern for the historical fate of his people lies at the heart of his poetry and provides the theme of the narrative poems Fatima (1889), On Trial (1893), and The Weeping Cliff (1894) as well as of the lengthy ethnographic sketch The Personage (1894). Many of his poems are devoted to two of his favorite themes: the future and freedom. Khetagurov was a bard of the poor, and an awareness of the people’s poverty and lack of rights is never absent from his poetry. The satiric narrative poem Who Leads a Merry Life? (1893) exposes, in journalistic fashion, “the robbers of the poor.”

Under Soviet power, Khetagurov’s creative legacy has gained recognition throughout the USSR. His works have been translated into nearly all the languages of the country and into many European languages.

Khetagurov was also the first Ossetic painter. A follower of the Russian artists of the democratic school, Khetagurov portrayed the life of the common people with great sympathy in his genre paintings. He also painted landscapes of the Caucasus and portraits.

In 1939 the Khetagurov House-Museum was established in Ordzhonikidze, where in 1955 a monument to the writer was erected (sculptor S. D. Tavasiev, architect I. G. Gainutdinov).


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.