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Yeghishe Charents: Poet of the Revolution

Edited by

Marc Nichanian

With the Collaboration of Vartan Matiossian

This book offers a collection of articles and studies on Yeghishe Charents (1897-1937), who has always been considered as the poet of Revolution in Armenia and is certainly one of the greatest poetical voices of the twentieth century in the Armenian language. The volume partly gathers the essays presented at the Charents conference organized at Columbia University in November 1997 by Marc Nichanian for the centennial of the poet’s birth and the sixtieth anniversary of his untimely and tragic death. It was the first time an international conference on a modern Armenian writer was held at a Western University. Other important essays have been added in order to echo the recent history of the Charents reception in English (Peter Balakian, G.M. Goshgarian, James Russell, Sonia Ketchian). A general introduction proposes a reflection on the poet’s encounter with history, his infatuation with Mayakovsky and the work of mourning that he was obliged to carry out after his renunciation of Futurism in 1924. He was forced into this renunciation in order to save his life and his career as a national poet in a Communist setting. After 1926, Charents’s poetical works are but a long meditation on the resources of poetry in the aftermath of the repudiation of Futurism.

The reader will find here contributions from the best specialists in Charents’ work. His daugther Anahid Charents (who in 1983 published the volume Unpublished and Uncollected Works after twenty years of struggle with the decaying manuscripts and censorship in Armenia) has an essay about the poet’s last years (1934-1937) which, still today, remain insufficiently studied. In the essay that opens the volume, Robert Maguire has sketched a general, analytical view of Moscow’s cultural and literary policies in the 1920s and 1930s, an indispensable element in any reconstruction of the successive stages of the poet’s intellectual and political biography. The first part of the volume presents aspects of the Charents reception in English (Peter Balakian, G.M. Goshgarian, James Russell, Sonia Ketchian). The second part offers texts by scholars writing in Armenian (Vartan Matiossian, Krikor Beledian, Henrik Edoyan).

The encounter of these different critical lineages in the same book tends to blur the boundaries between worlds that, it is usually said, do not communicate with each other. This was, after all, one of the objectives of the conference and of this book as well: to bring out the need for a Western and Diasporan reception of Yeghishe Charents, or to show that it is already emerging.


2003: xii+352pp, bibliography, index

ISBN:1-56859-112-8 (cloth): $35.00

Armenian Studies Series, No. 5

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