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Among Armenian dramatists, Gabriel Sundukian (1825-1912) is without a rival. Born in Tiflis, he studied Eastern languages at the University of St. Petersburg. An avid reader, his favorite writers were Shakespeare, Moliere, and above all Gogol. “I owe more to Gogol than to anyone else,” he has said. Some of his better known plays – Sneezing at Night is a Good Omen (1863), Embarrassment (Khatabala – 1866), Oskan Petrovich in the Next World (1866), Yet Another Victim (1870), Pepo (1871), The Husbands (1890), Love and Freedom (1909) – are still widely performed today in Armenia and Georgia (where he is regarded as a Georgian playwright because the action of his plays is set in Tiflis and because Sundukian himself translated most of them into Georgian).
Sundukian was the first Armenian dramatists of commanding genius to deal with the middle and lower classes. His common people are profoundly human and his merciless attacks on gred and mendacity reveal a mind preoccupied more with moral and ethical questions than class conflict. His plays were admired by among others Alexandre Dumas fils and Maxim Gorky, who edited one of the three extant Russian translations of Pepo.
From Ara Baliozian's "The Armenians: Their History & Culture" - Reproduced here with his permission.