“Almost every nation has two languages, an old and a new...After much reflection I decided to throw overboard grammar and rhetoric and become a minstrel.”
Who he was
Khachatur Abovyan was the writer that galvanized Eastern Armenian as a separate dialect of Armenian in his magnum opus, “Wounds of Armenia.”
He was born in the Kanaker neighborhood of Yerevan and entered seminary at an early age. Bored with ecclesiastical education, he left seminary and traveled to Tiflis (modern-day Tbilisi), the intellectual center of Armenians in the 19th century, to enter Nersisian College. After graduating, he befriended Friedrich Parrot, a European professor who helped him enter the University of Dorpat in what is now Estonia.
Abovyan returned to his homeland, troubled by the oppression of its people by foreign powers and concerned with the limited intellectual culture of Armenian society. He wrote prolifically, exploring contemporary issues through a variety of writing styles including poetry, prose and essay.
He was not only interested in publishing his ideas for their own sake but wanted to ensure that his work could be read and understood. As a result, he composed works in colloquial vernacular, believing that writing in the language of his audience would make his work more widely read, more widely understood and, thus, more impactful. This led him to write the first novel ever published in Eastern Armenian, “Wounds of Armenia.” Besides its linguistic significance, the novel also evoked nationalistic sentiments among Armenians living under Persian and Russian rule.
Tragically, nobody knows what happened to Abovyan. He left his home one day, early in the morning, and never returned. His disappearance was never solved.
Abovyan was fluent in Russian, German, French and Latin.
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