“Victorious Niko” by Ekateriné Gabashvili: Utopia in the Georgian Village
The story “Victorious Niko”, written in 1896 by the Georgian writer Ekateriné Gabashvili (1851-1938), ends with the epilogue, in which Iason, one of the characters of the story, is writing a letter to his mother. Here he describes a community, where justice and equality have been established, discovered by him in the Georgian village of the Eastern region of Georgia. The community, in which the peasants’ life is founded on the collective property and the collaborative work, is led by the Orthodox priest Niko and his wife Liza, who also works there as a teacher. The material foundation of the community was the property, inherited by Liza from her grandfather by his own will. The priest has lost the personal faith and his religious feelings are replaced by ethics of serving the people.
Ekateriné Gabashvili’s ideas, while describing the life in the village, are based on the ideological movement, which was originated in Russia in the 1870s and was named as “Narodniki”, i.e. “populists”, but this ideology soon came to Georgia, where the followers of the movement were called as “Khalkhosnebi”. The article also shows that the Georgian utopian village, described in the story, is based not only on the ideas of the “Narodniks” (or “Khalkhosnebi”), but also upon the own experience of the writer, who had opened a small factory
in her own house, where poor girls studied and worked.
There is evidence that the story was influenced by “What Is to Be Done?”, a novel by Nikolay Chernyshevsky, but sometimes Gabashvili does not agree with the opinions expressed in the novel, which was so important for the public life in Russia as well as in Georgia – for “Narodniks” or for “Khalkhosnebi”.
At the end of the story the writer declares the great importance of personal experience for the spiritual transformation of a person – either man or woman.