Vol. 39 (2018)
Issues of Literary Theory

Ilia Chavchavadze – Enlightener and Europeanist: (Study of the History of Georgian Occidental Centrism)

Published 2018-12-20


  • European Enlightenment,
  • Occidental Centrism,
  • Ilia Chavchavadze

How to Cite

Bregadze, K. (2018). Ilia Chavchavadze – Enlightener and Europeanist: (Study of the History of Georgian Occidental Centrism). Literary Researches, 39, 188–198. Retrieved from https://literaryresearches.litinstituti.ge/index.php/literaryresearches/article/view/4154


In Georgia European Enlightenment, as an emancipatory and secular discourse (which includes political, economic and social liberties), European cohesiveness, consistent development, first of all, must be linked to the name of Ilia Chavchavadze (1837-1907), because it was based on this orientation that on the one hand he saw freedom of Georgia from the colonial state, and on the other hand, the possibility of renewing the social-political life of Georgia with “European Radius”.

Thus, Ilia’s educational work aimed at establishing the secular understanding of the nation and the national consolidation, resulting into the so-called Nationalstaat, which on the one hand would be based on the ideas of European classical liberalism – parliamentarism, republicanism, constitutionalism, on the other hand, the critical spirit (Kantian Approach) and educative work. That is why it is not accidental that Ilia relied on the communicational channels existing in the European system – on the one hand, the publicist-critical works (press) and on the other, artistic creativity (literature).

Enlightenment, as a Euro-Western project puts the main emphasis on people, as a major value, who is in charge of developing a critical spirit, establishing the primacy of the mind and developing freedom in political, social and economic fields that brings forward the idea of the Nation and which through the notion of Bürger brings into the socio-political space not only new but the main social player as well. These issues are dominant in Ilia’s work and his enlightened work and concept included enlightenment in its full form – critical, liberal, Bürger soul. Thus, Ilia was not only oriented towards Europe and to the West, but by his Habitus and Behavior was fully Europeanist.

Accordingly, the anti-colonial and national liberation discourse, which Ilia Chavchavadze developed in his artistic creations and publicist letters, as well as practical activities, first of all is based on the European Enlightenment ideas, which in his works became some kind of a sermon of political, economic and social freedom and equality (Poem “The Phantom”), because Ilia’s saw European-Western activism and the orientation towards the West as a precondition for the future socio-political development of Georgia as state (compare the concept of “motion” in the short story “Notes of a Traveller” to the French character of the story, who is an iconic face of the whole European socio-political culture.)