Edmond Y. Azadian at his Yerevan book presentation

Edmond Azadian’s New Book Presented in Yerevan

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By Gohar Makaryan

YEREVAN — Edmond Y. Azadian’s new Armenian-language book, With My Time and Contemporaries [Zhamanagi yev zhamanagagitsneru hed] was presented at the Tekeyan Center in Yerevan on September 19 in the presence of literary critics, teachers and well known figures of Armenian art and culture. Azadian is a writer, journalist, editor, literary critic and public figure who at present is president of the Tekeyan Cultural Association of the United States and Canada and member of the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party (ADL)’s Supreme Council.

Copies of Azadian’s new book, With My Time and Contemporaries

This is Azadian’s sixth book. He is an overseas member of the Armenian Academy of Sciences, with an honorary doctorate from Yerevan State University.

Hagop Avedikian, the chief editor of the weekly Azg, and chairman of the ADL Central Committee, was the first speaker. He introduced Azadian’s prolific creative activities as a journalist and literary critic, declaring, “Throughout his full life, he has never been an observer — he has been a participant. He is a fighter and battler. Azadian’s weapon is his pen.”

Hagop Avedikian

Ruben Mirzakhanyan, president of the Tekeyan Cultural Association of Armenia and rector of the State Pedagogical University of Armenia, stressed in connection with the publication of Azadian’s new volume that Azadian was one of the great intellectuals of the diaspora. He said, “This is not an exaggeration … He is a man of whose quality we must be proud. This book is a great present to Armenian intellectuals.”

Ruben Mirzakhanyan

Petros Demirchyan, literary critic and vice president of the Writers Union of Armenia, presented Azadian’s contribution to literary criticism. He pointed out that it was thanks to his efforts that the works of several Western Armenian writers like Indra and Mikayel Giurdjian were saved from oblivion. Azadian donated Indra’s archive, which he had managed to preserve, to the Charents Museum of Literature and Art.

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Aleksandr Topchyan, literary critic, playwright and novelist, focused on Azadian’s role in literary criticism, remarking that he managed to maintain the link between writer and reader in a wonderful fashion. Yervand Ter-Khachatryan, who is the compiler of Azadian’s volume With My Time and Contemporaries and author of its foreword, demonstrated one more time in his comments Azadian’s significance in the realm of criticism, and characterized Azadian as a broadminded intellectual.

He said, “He writes magnificently about all fields of art – painting, drama and music. He sees phenomena more profoundly and universally, and he relates not only to Armenian but to world literature. Azadian knows diasporan Armenian literature from the inside. He truly knows the diaspora and feels the language with his whole being. We must learn from his writings.”

The final address of the evening was reserved for the author, Azadian himself. He thanked the guests for their presence and Yervand Ter-Khachatryan for his work of editing, declaring that his writings were always scattered in the press while Vatche Semerdjian of Los Angeles succeeded in collecting them so that they would be published as a book. He said to Ter-Khachatryan, “Thanks to you, I became acquainted with myself, just as through you the reader became acquainted with me. I am grateful.”

Azadian spoke about the value and role of his book from the point of view of the preservation of the Western Armenian language. He noted that we can no longer encounter Western Armenian with the same richness as in the creative works of Siamanto, Tekeyan and Varuzhan, and said, “Western Armenian gives me a great potential, but it is in its death throes, and I, perhaps, am one of the last soldiers who fights on behalf of Western Armenian. Consequently, this book is my share of the work of preservation of the Western Armenian language which is dying. The discourse of tomorrow, the literature of tomorrow, will be a literature of love and cooperation between the diaspora and Armenia, constructed with steel words in the velvet revolution; it will be a united pan-national literature. If this book carries out that role and brings that benefit, I will be thankful.”

The guests at the event related lovely memories of Edmond Azadian, each one revealing a different Azadian, not well known to the broader public. The event ended with the consecration of the new book with wine at the hands of Azadian and Mirzakhanyan.

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