Posted 05 April 2001 - 05:33 AM
"We donít have literary critics," Zarian has said. "What we have instead are meddlers with derivative criteria gathered from here and there Ė amateurs who have made of literary criticism an arid field of dismal mediocrity."
Oshagan Sr., our foremost literary critic and a contemporary of Zarian, retaliated by saying Zarian didnít have a single original idea in his head.
Oshagan Jr. echoed his fatherís words when he wrote in ARARAT Quarterly (Autumn 1994): "Zarianís ideas have grown old prematurely. Of course, Zarianís thought is vulnerable and his ideas and his intuitive truths cannot resist five minutes of serious examination."
There you have it, deconstruction Armenian style: demolition!
Posted 05 April 2001 - 06:41 AM
I know you have done extensive work on Zarian. Is it possible for you to post some of your work here, so that we learn more about Zarian? Is it also possible to have some of Zarian's oroginal work posted in this thread?
Posted 05 April 2001 - 10:26 AM
Biography by Ara Baliozian
(summarized by Shant Norashkharian)
* This biography was published in the
introduction of THE TRAVELLER & HIS ROAD, a
partial English translation of Gosdan Zarian's
work by Ara Baliozian, (Copyright Ara Baliozian
* Ara Baliozian has given total authorization to
Shant Norashkharian for posting any of his
works/translations on the Internet/ World Wide
Gosdan Zarian was born in Shemakha, the former
capital of Azerbaijan, on February 2, 1885. His
father, Christopher Yeghiazarov, was a prosperous
general in the Russian Armyó"a strong man,
profoundly Christian and Armenian"ówho spent most
of his life fighting in the mountains of the
Caucasus. He died when Zarian was four years old.
After attending the Russian Gymnasium of Baku, in
1895, when he was ten, he was sent to the College
of Saint Germain in Asnieres, near Paris. He
continued his studies in Belgium, and, after
obtaining a doctorate in literature and
philosophy from the University of Brussels, he
spent about a year writing and publishing verse
in both French and Russian, delivering lectures
on Russian literature and drama, and living a
more or less bohemian life among writers and
artists. Speaking of this period in his life,
Zarian was to write: "We used to have cheap food
with Lenin in a small restaurant in Geneva, and
today, a syphilitic boozer with his feet on a
chair and hand on revolver is telling meó" 'You
counter-revolutionary fanatic nationalist
Armenian intellectuals are in no position to
understand Lenin.' " In addition to Lenin, Zarian
also met and befriended such poets, artists, and
political thinkers as Appolinaire, Picasso,
Plekhanov, Ungaretti, Celine, Paul Eluard,
Fernand Leger, and the renowned Belgian poet and
literary critic Emile Verhaeren. It was Verhaeren
who advised him to study his own mother tongue
and write in the language of his ancestors if he
wanted to reveal his true self. Heeding his
advice, Zarian studied krapar (classical) and
ashkharhapar (vernacular) Armenian with the
Mekhitarists on the island of San Lazarro in
Venice (1910-1913), where he also published THREE
SONGS (1916) , a book of poems in Italian
(originally written in French), one of which,
titled "La Primavera" (Spring), was set to music
by Ottorino Respighi and first performed in 1923.
Next we find him in Istanbul, which was then the
most important cultural center of the Armenian
diaspora, where in 1914, together with Daniel
Varoujan, Hagop Oshagan, Kegham Parseghian, and a
number of others, he founded the literary
periodical Mehian . This constellation of young
firebrands became known as the Mehian writers,
and like their contemporaries in Europe- the
French surrealists, Italian futurists, and German
expressionists-they defied the establishment
fighting against ossified traditions a preparing
the way for the new. "In distant cities people
argued and fought around our ideas," wrote
Zarian. "Ignorant school principals had banned
our periodical. Well-known scholars looked upon
us with suspicion. They hated us but did not dare
to say anything openly. We were close to
victory...." At which point, the proto-fascist
Young Turk government decided to exterminate the
entire Armenian population of Turkey. The
holocaust that followed claimed 1,500,000
victims, among them 200 of the ablest Armenian
poets and authors, including most of the Mehian
writers. Zarian was one of the very few who
survived by escaping to Bulgaria, and thence to
Italy, establishing himself in Rome.
In 1919, as a special correspondent to an Italian
newspaper, he was sent to the Middle East and
Armenia. He returned to Istanbul in 1920 and
there, together with Vahan Tekeyan, Hagop
Oshagan, and a number of other survivors of the
holocaust, he founded another literary
periodical, PARTSRAVANK (Monastery-on-a-Hill). At
this time he also published a second book of
poems, THE CROWN OF DAYS (Istanbul, 1922).
Following the establishment of Soviet rule in
Armenia, Zarian returned there and for the next
three years taught comparative literature at the
State University of Yerevan. Thoroughly
disappointed with the regime, in 1925 he again
went abroad where he conducted a nomadic
existence, living in Paris, (where he founded the
French-language periodical LE TOUR DE BABEL),
Rome, Florence, the Greek island of Corfu, the
Italian island of Ischia, and New York. In New
York he taught Armenian culture at Columbia
University (1944-46), founded the
English-language periodical THE ARMENIAN
QUARTERLY (1946) which, though it lasted only two
issues, published such writers as Sirarpie Der
Nersessian, Henri Gregoire, and Marietta
Shaginian. From 1952-54 he taught history of art
at the American University of Beirut (Lebanon).
Following an interlude in Los Angeles, he once
more returned to Soviet Armenia in 1961, where he
worked at the Charents Museum of Art and
Literature in Yerevan. A bowdlerized edition of
his novel THE SHIP ON THE MOUNTAIN (originally
published in Boston in 1943) appeared in Yerevan
in 1963, and shortly thereafter in a Russian
translation in Moscow (1969, reprinted in 1974).
He died in Yerevan on December 11, 1969.
Zarian was a prolific and many-sided writer who
produced with equal ease short lyric poems, long
narrative poems of an epic cast, manifestoes,
essays, travel impressions, criticism, and
fiction. The genre in which he excelled, however,
was the diary form with long autobiographical
divagations, reminiscences and impressions of
people and places, interspersed with literary,
philosophical and historical meditations and
polemics. To this category belong THE TRAVELLER
AND HIS ROAD (1926-28), WEST (1928-290, CITIES
(1930), BANCOOP AND THE BONES OF THE MAMMOTH
(1931-34), COUNTRIES AND GODS (1935-38), and THE
ISLAND AND A MAN (1955), all of which were
published in serial form in the now vanished
emigre monthly HAIRENIK of Boston. So far only
three of the works ( The Traveller and His Road,
West, Cities) have been published in book form in
a single volume titled WORKS (Antelias, 1975),
with a laconic introductory note by Boghos
In Armenia, Zarian's fame rests on the narrative
poem THE BRIDE OF TETRACHOMA (Yerevan, 1965;
originally published in Boston, 1930), and the
already mentioned censored edition of THE SHIP ON
THE MOUNTAIN. The entry on Zarian in the
SOVIET-ARMENIAN ENCYCLOPEDIA, volume 3 (Yerevan,
1977), doesn't even mention his THE TRAVELLER AND
HIS ROAD, which is generally regarded, together
with BANCOOP AND THE BONES OF THE MAMMOTH, as one
of his greatest achievements.
A Short Bibliography
"The fact remains that sooner or later Armenian
writers will either swim in his river or drown in
their own cesspool."
(Nor Gyank, Nov 30, 1995)
Writings by Zarian:
Zarian, Constant, "The Priest of the Village of
Bakontz," trans. James G. Mandalian. Armenian
Review 2, No. 3-7 (Autumn 1949), pp. 28-39.
Zarian, Gostan, Nave leran vra (The Ship on the
Mountain) (Boston: Hairenik Publishing House,
________, Le bateau sur la montagne (The Boat on
the Mountain), trans. P. Der Sarkissian (Paris:
________, Bancoop and the Bones of the Mammoth,
trans. Ara Baliozian (New York: Ashod Press,
________, The Traveller and His Road, trans. Ara
Baliozian (New York: Ashod Press, 1981).
________, The Island and A Man, trans. Ara
Baliozian (Toronto: Kar Publishing House, 1983).
________, "The Bride of Tetrachoma," trans. Ara
Baliozian, Ararat (Summer 1982).
________, "The Pig," chap. in A World of Great
Stories, ed. H. Haydn and J. Cournos (New York:
Avenel Books, 1947).
________, "The National Turkey Hen," trans. Ara
Baliozian, chap. in Yessayan, Zabel, The Gardens
of Silihdar and Other Writings (New York: Ashod
________, "Krikor Zohrab: A Remembrance," trans.
Ara Baliozian, Ararat (Spring 1982).
________, "My Song," "Ecce Homo," "Alone," and
"Morning," in Anthology of Armenian Poetry, ed.
Diana Der Hovanessian and Marzbed Margossian (New
York: Columbia University Press, 1978), pp.
Writings about him:
Amirian, Lemyel, "To the Editor," Ararat (Autumn
1972), p. 33.
________, "The Wound Again: Dichotomy as the Key
to the Armenian Character," Ararat (Summer 1974),
Baliozian, Ara, "Introduction," Banoop and the
Bones of the Mammoth
________, "Introduction," The Traveller and His
________, "Introduction," The Island and a Man
________, "Historian of the Heart," Ararat
(Winter 1980), pp. 70-72.
________, Intimate Talk (Kitchener, Ont.:
Impressions, Publishers, 1992), pp. 19-21,
________, The Greek Poetess and Other Writings
(Kitchener, Ont.: Impressions, Publishers, 1988),
Durrell, Lawrence, "Constant Zarian--Triple
Exile," The Poetry Review (January/February
Kelikian, Hampartsoum, "The Wound Remains the
Wound: Armenian Writers of Our Time," Ararat
Kuprianova, Nina, "Interview with Gostan Zarian,"
Soviet Literature (March 1966).
Posted 05 April 2001 - 10:28 AM
please search for "Gostan Zarian" on your Yahoo search engine. / ara
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