Holiday Reading: New book offers contemporary entertainment (Deviation: Anthology of Contemporary Armenian Literature )
26 December 2008
A book featuring the poems and essays of contemporary writers from Armenia and Diaspora was put on sale this week in Yerevans Artbridge café-bookstore. The 300-page book entitled Deviation: Anthology of Contemporary Armenian Literature is available in English and comprises 11 authors.
The publication was sponsored by the Netherlands Prince Claus Fund for Culture and development. Many of the works included in the anthology have appeared in Inknagir (Autograph) literary magazine. (www.inknagir.org) The book was compiled by Vahan Ishkhanyan, ArmeniaNow reporter, and Inknagir literary clubs chairman and poet Violet Grigoryan, Inknagirs editor. Ishkhanyans short stories and Grigoryans poems are among entries in the volume.
For about a century after Armenians conversion to Christianity (301 A.D.), St. Mesrop Mashtots in 405 invented Armenian alphabet. Written Armenian can be divided into classical Armenian (Grabar), which dates from the 5th - 12th centuries, and is still employed as the scholarly and liturgical language, medieval Armenian (12th - 17th centuries), and modern Armenian (Ashkharabar), which dates from the middle of 17th century and is a language of modern Armenian literature. Classical, medieval and modern Armenian are using the same alphabet, which originally had 36 letters but now has 39. There are two main spoken dialects, Western Armenian and Eastern Armenian.
The catholicos Sahak the Great and St. Mesrop, encouraged by king Vramshapuh formed a school of translators who were sent to Edessa to procure and translate Syrian and Greek copies of the scriptures and other important works.
Since the 5th century thousands of manuscripts and printed materials were created all over the world by Armenian writers. The Matenadaran is one of the oldest and richest book-depositories in the world. Its collection of about 17000 manuscripts includes almost all the areas of ancient and medieval Armenian culture and sciences - history, geography, grammar, philosophy, law, medicine, mathematics-cosmography, theory of calendar, alchemy-chemistry, translations, literature, chronology art history, miniature, music and theatre, as well as manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, Greek, Syrian, Latin, Ethiopian, Indian, Japanese and others.
Hakob Meghapart was the first who in 1512-1513 printed the Armenian language books in Venice: "Urbatagirk" (Friday Book), "Parzatumar" (Simple Calendar of Armenians), "Pataragatetr" (Book of Liturgy, Missile), "Aghtark" (Collection of Astronomical and other Predictions) and "Tagharan" (Book of Songs).
The following is an incomplete chronological list of places where Armenian books were published: Constantinople (1567), Rome (1579), Lvov (1616), Milan (1621), Nor Djugha (1638), Livorno (1644), Amsterdam (1660), Marseilles (1672), Smurna (1678), London (1736), Echmiatsin (1771), Madras (1772), Trieste (1776), St. Petersburg (1781), Nor Nakhijevan (1790), Astrakhan (1796), Calcutta (1796).
A notable place in the history of Armenian book printing belongs to a publishing house in Amsterdam of Voskan Yerevantsi, where scores to the Armenian books were printed in the second half of the 17th century. Among them were the first Bible (1666), "History" by Arakel Davrizhetsi (1669), "The history of Armenia" by Movses Khorenatsi (1695) and others. In 1695 the same publishing house also put out the first geographic map "Hamataratz Ashkharatsuits", which is considered one of the first artistically designed maps in the history of cartography.
The Turkish Culture Ministry has announced plans to open a museum in honor of Pullitzer Prize-winning Armenian-American writer William Saroyan. The museum will be located in the southeastern province of Bitlis, where Saroyan's family lived before migrating to the United States at the beginning of the 20th century. Saroyan is being commemorated on the 100th anniversary of his birth with various events in different parts of the world, including a UNESCO declaration of 2008 as the year of Saroygan. -The search in Bitlis continues on where exactly the house that belonged to Saroyan's family is located. If we could discover where it is located, we will convert it into a museum in early 2009,- said Ertuðrul Günay, the Turkish culture minister.
Speaking to the Turkish Daily News, Günay said Turkey had not been sensitive about its artists so far and had not shown enough interest in the places where they lived. �We will eliminate such perceptions. Changes will be introduced in the cultural realm in Turkey in 2009,� he said. Saroyan was born in Fresno, California. He grew up listening to stories being told by family members about Anatolia, the land where his ancestors settled. Saroyan attracted the attention of world literary critics with his first work. In 1939, he won the Pulitzer Prize, immediately after publishing his second book, -The Trouble with Tigers.- The Turkish Daily News conducted an interview with Rober Koptaþ, editor-in-chief of Aras Publications, which publishes the Saroyan collection, and Aziz Gökdemir, editor of the collection.
For Gökdemir, a Saroyan museum in Bitlis is a dream that will not come true. -We just could not bear it if we knew the total number of valuable artifacts that Turkey has lost so far. The West has protected what Turkey would have lost. We just could not grasp the value of artists like Saroyan when they were alive. I do not believe in any possibility of opening a museum in memory of Saroyan,- he said. -In Turkey, there exists a widely held prejudice against the Armenian Diaspora. We aim to put an end to such a rigid prejudice with the Saroyan collection we publish,- said Koptaþ. -On the one hand, there is a -diaspora,' the existence of which depends on its anti-Turkey stance. On the other hand, there are those diaspora members, such as Saroyan.
Plans for a film called "A Shepherd's Song" by Vahram Mkhitaryan won a tolerance film prize awarded by the OSCE Office in Yerevan and partners in a ceremony held at the Armenian Foreign Ministry today.
The prize of about 5,000 euros will sponsor the production of the film, which will tell the story of the challenges facing a blind shepherd and his family.
"Culture and cinema in particular are one of the most effective ways and means to raise tolerance awareness in society. This special award aims to attract attention to the significant role of tolerance," said Ambassador Sergey Kapinos, Head of the OSCE Office in Yerevan
The ceremony during which Mkhitaryan received the prize in the "Tolerance without Borders" competition, was part of the Golden Apricot International Film Festival, held in Yerevan from 13 to 20 July.
The prize was awarded for the second consecutive year. Last year's winner, "The Third Rider" by Gor Baghdasaryan, was to be screened today in a Yerevan cinema.
The Office, United Nations Development Programme Armenia and the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation sponsored the prize, which was awarded in co-operation with the Golden Apricot Fund for Cinema Development.