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The Patricide

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Title: The Patricide  
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Subject: Patricide, Alexander Kazbegi, Early life of Joseph Stalin
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The Patricide

The Patricide (Georgian: მამის მკვლელი) is a novel by Alexander Kazbegi, first published in 1882. The novel is a love story, but it also addresses many socio-political issues of 19th century Georgia. The novel portrays critical realism of the 19th century.


The story is told from the third person perspective. It takes place in Khevi, which is a historical region of northern Georgia around the Kazbeg mountain.

Alexander Kazbegi was an ethnographer who grew up in Khevi, and as such was quite familiar with the life of the mountaineer. The novel is written in Medieval Georgian, which is also the dialect of northern Georgians.

The author also addresses political issues, such as the importance of self-selected government. At the time, the governors of the region were appointed by Russian authorities. Also, Russian authorities used cossack soldiers to occupy Georgia and their disrespectful behavior made the situation even worse.

Plot summary

Ananuri Church and fortress

The novel takes place in 19th century Georgia, when Georgia was occupied by the Russian Empire. It is a love story of Iago, a peasant boy, and Nunu, a beautiful young woman. Nunu's mother died early, and since her father (a member of the coalition army in the Shamil rebellion) is too poor to care for her, she lives with her uncle's family. They disapprove of her match with Iago, as they consider him a mere Plebe. Instead, they are sympathetic towards Grigola, the tyrannical village governor appointed by the Russians. Grigola is married, but in love with the beautiful Nunu. He convinces her family that his brother would like to wed her, though Grigola intends to keep Nunu as his own mistress.

To get Nunu, Grigola realizes that he has to get rid of Iago first. Grigola accuses him of stealing state property and gives orders to lock him up in the Ananuri fortress. He then kidnaps and rapes Nunu. Koba, Iago's best friend, witnesses the kidnapping. He fights through Grigola's men to rescue Nunu, but he is too late. Koba swears revenge against Grigola for his shameful behavior.

Koba and another friend break Iago out of jail, and they all decide to flee to the Northern Caucasus and hide in Chechnya, since Russian police and Cossacks are looking for them all over Georgia. Despite the fact that many Georgians were fighting on the Russian side, Shamil receives them and offers protection. The author portrays Chechens as free men who fight for their freedom, in contrast to the Georgians, who were kept on a short leash by people like Grigola, unable even to hold town meetings (a tradition since the Middle Ages).

Meanwhile, Nunu escapes from Grigola. Koba manages to contact her and tells her to meet them in Vladikavkaz in North Ossetia, along with her father. The night before Iago and Nunu are supposed to see each other again, Iago and Koba's host decides to inform Grigola of their whereabouts, hoping to receive their horses in exchange for the information. After midnight, Grigola shows up and murders Iago, the friend, and Nunu's father, hoping to pin the latter on Nunu and thus have an excuse to send her to Siberia. Koba escapes Grigola's wrath, but upon discovering both her lover and father murdered, Nunu dies from grief.

At the end of the story, Koba exacts his revenge for both Iago and Nunu by shooting Grigola and his supervisor in a cab in the forest. Koba is the hero of the story, who respects friendship, defends truth, respects women, and enforces justice.


The character Koba was admired and used as a pseudonym by Joseph Stalin, who was born in Georgia. Koba's vengeful characteristics, embodiment of traditional Georgian knightly ideals, and his simplistic moral code of honesty and loyalty appealed to Stalin, legitimizing his illicit operations as he turned to revolutionary activity.[1]


  1. ^ Philip Pomper. Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin (NY: Columbia UP, 1990) 158-163 and Robert C. Tucker, Stalin as Revolutionary (NY: Norton, 1973) 79-82.

External links

  • Online version of the novel (Georgian)
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