Monday, April 06, 2009

LITERATURE: Armenian Legends and Poems

by Zabelle C. Boyajian

A sampler of Armenian literature, legends and history.

"This is a collection of translations of Armenian literature from the middle ages, interspersed with poetry from the 19th century. In addition, there are a number of episodes from the chronicles of Moses of Khorene, a fifth century Armenian historian. These recount legendary incidents of ancient Armenian history. The anthologist and translator of many of these poems, Zabelle Boyajian, also created the luminous illustrations.

The book concludes with a long essay by Aram Raffi which contextualizes the long history of Armenian literature. This essay also details the long religious history of Armenia, starting with an extended discussion of the ancient Pagan deities. Armenia is in a region which is a cross-roads between Asia and Europe, and has more often than not been conquered by the dominant regional power of the day, starting with the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Macedonians, through the Ottomans and finally the Russians.

Nevertheless, Armenia has managed to hold onto a unique cultural and linguistic identity. Armenians have produced a substantial national literature, particularly in those short windows of time while not under foreign domination."

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