Posted 12 May 2002 - 11:15 PM
(We aired a couple of vignettes from his Hos-hosi Dzeratetr@, the handbook of Here and There. Before we proceed let us see who Hakob Baronian really is.)
Hakob Hovhanessi Baronian, satirist, writer, publisher, social commentator and public speaker was born in Adrianople, modern day Edirne on Nov. 11, 1843 in a well to do family. His father was a money changer. Hakob lost his father at a young age and was brought up by his mother, who by her enthusiasm, passion and benevolence had a great influence on the young boy's character which sustained him even during the darkest days.
His early education began at the local Arshakounian school. In 1857 he enrolled in the local Greek school but left after a year. That was the extent of his formal education. He was self made and self educated. He was at times a pharmacist's apprentice and an accountant. In 1863 he moved to Polis where he was employed at the telegraph office while he dabbled with literature and journalism. During 1871-72 he taught at the Mezroupian school and another year at the Uskudar Jemaran. He got a clerical job at the Patriarchate in 1873. Financial conditions caused him to move to Smyrna in mid 1877 and eventually moved back to his birthplace the year after. In June of 1879 he moved back to Polis where he spent the rest of his life. In 1880 he was assigned the secretary of the Miatsyal Hayots Society, followed by another stint of teaching at the Kendronakan.
His Literary career started as a dramatist with two theatrical comedies, Erkou Terov Tsara (Servant With Two Masters[publ. 1911] and Atamnabuyzhn Arevelyan (The Oriental Dentist) 1868]. There are indications that Hakob may have been an aspiring actor, hence his fascination with the stage and his numerous references to the theater, his comedic and satirical talent was best devoted to journalism and social commentary, even if his obsession with the stage may surface at every step of the way. His earliest journalistic career started at the Pogh Aravotyan (Morning Bugle), and in 1871 he was assigned the editor of Yeprat. In 1872 he was entrusted with the edition of Meghu (Bee), a satirical periodical where his real talent as social commentator and journalist surfaced. He used the medium to comment about the prevailing questionable social life of the Armenian community while not sparing the Ottoman government, the European "allies" and everything in between. He used the publication to write and air his earliest satirical works, Stingings (Khaytvatsk) and Aske Anke (From Here and There) which, as the titles suggests, were small comments and critiques of the times and customs. 1874 was a decisive year when he changed the character of Meghu and renamed it Thatron (Theater), he published the paper until 1877, the entire duration of the Turko-Russian War. He used the occasion to criticize the European powers and expose their hypocrisy and evil in regards to the Armenian Question. As the editor of this publication Baronian honed his art and talent with series like "Theatrical Papers", "Theatrical Forecasts", "Theatrical Dictionary", "National Diary" and "Pinchings" (Ksmitner) a masterpiece of political satire. In 1874 it was at the said periodical that he began one of his masterpieces, the "Azgayin Jojer" (the National Bigwigs) in which he attacked and ridiculed his contemporary intellectuals, community leaders, clergy and government servants. Even though the work does primarily ridicule the subjects it never attacks them personally, and at times the careful reader will find much praise and compliment of his subjects. His main passion and purpose was to expose the pompous, the depraved, the corrupt, the lazy and the dishonest, and it seems the times had plenty of those in all walks of life, all professions and all callings. His relentless attacks did not remain unnoticed, the paper was forced to shut down due to political and financial pressures.
He subsequently worked at various publications, the likes of Luys, Pordz, Ardzaganq, Paros Hayastani. He resumed his series of "Ksmitner" in the pages of Masis in 1878. In 1880 he serialized his A Walk on the Streets of Polis in which he took each at a time and treated them as persons with all their vices and virtues. His concern with xenophilia and the danger of alienation and assimilation is the central theme of the work. His Hoshosi Dzeratetr@ was composed the same year in which he critiques the prevailing vainglory of the community, the treachery of the local government and the hypocrisy of the European powers. His Paghtasar Aghbar (Brother Balthazar)is considered a masterpiece of Armenian comic theater and has been played on many stages, be they Armenian or foreign for all these years. It is a powerful commentary and criticism of the prevailing corrupt atmosphere of the times with characters like a lying and cheating clergy, a failed actor, a jobless physician, unpublished and unpublishable writer/poet, a conniving and deprived woman etc. !880 was the year when the other of his masterpieces was published in a serial form, the Honorable Beggars (Metsapativ Mouratskanner), the opus that he best remembered, a work that reveals the deep depravity and treachery of city life as opposed to country life.
Baronian did not subscribe to any single philosophy, he shunned groupings and societies. He did not discriminate in his criticism, except perhaps the common and downtrodden public, a majority of the times, his main subjects were the self appointed leaders, those in positions simply through their financial and political connections, the few, the minority that took advantage of the simple folk who were in the majority.
Baronian is the founder of Armenian satire and realist literature. Many have emulated him and many still are. His most famous heir is Erwand Otian. (BTW. Petros Dourian was also a student of his at the Jemaran). There ar numerous theatrical societies named at Hakob Baronian, In Yerevan there are streets, schools and the famous Baronian Comic Theater named for him. His complete works have been published in ten volumes.
Note; I was under the impression that Hakob Baronian had lived to a ripe old age, but in writing the above I was surprised (not really) to learn that he had died at a very young age of 48. And such is the life of a satirist and public critic, specially an Armenian one. It is rumored that in his latter days Baronian was destitute and poor, so much so that at his death a head of onion was found in one of his pockets and a alice of bread in the other.
Posted 12 May 2002 - 11:54 PM
Posted 28 May 2013 - 09:20 AM
Ter Voghormia, Lord have mercy. Parq Astoutso, Praise God./Praise the Lord.
Someone, apparently a diasporan transliterated his name as Baronian, not Paronyan.
We are all under the impression that he was a hundred years old.
He was only 58.
Hagop Baronian (November 19, 1843 May 27, 1891)
15:18, 27 May, 2013
Hagop Baronian, widely regarded as the greatest Armenian satirist of all time, was born in Edirne and died in Constantinople.
An influential Armenian writer, educator and social figure, Baronian was known for his scathing critique of leading figures in Constantinople Armenian political and social circles.
Baronian's most famous work was the book Medzabadiv Mouratsganner ("Honorable Beggars"), which parodies the almost beggar-like state of writers and publishers in that period.
Unfortunately, he suffered the same fate as the characters in Medzabadiv Mouratsganner and died penniless, suffering from tuberculosis on the streets of Istanbul.
The Heritage of Armenian Literature: From the Eighteenth Century to Modern Times; pp 405-406
In the 1870s he sided with Khrimian Hayrik in support of the revision of the National Constitution and criticized the corruption of Ottoman officials in the Armenian provinces. As the Balkans erupted into the rebellion that led to the Russo-Ottoman war of1877-78 (which in turn made the Armenian Question an international issue), he attacked Ottoman internal policy and exposed the hypocrisy of the European powers with bitter sarcasm. In 1883, in order to avoid censorship, he began to publish a weekly brochure called Dzidzagh (Sneer), in which the heroes, all national and international figures, were represented allegorically by animals derived from Armenian folklore, such as the fox, frog, ant, and monkey. The series lasted for only one year and his enemies declared victory.
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