PARIS — Serpouhi Hovaghian: The Earth Alone Can Help Us , Notebook of an Armenian Genocide Deportee was published on April 29 by the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF).

This critical edition is by Raymond Kévorkian and Maximilien Girard.

Having gathered dust for decades in an attic before being added to the collections of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Serpouhi Hovaghian’s notebook is one of the few known contemporary witness accounts of a victim of the Armenian genocide. This present critical edition of the narrative it contains plunges us into one of the darkest periods of the twentieth century.

We walked haphazardly, six hours a day, without eating or drinking. Walk, walk down the road until you’ve put paid to your life […].”

On October 25, 1915, a young 22-year-old Armenian woman escaped from a convoy of deportees that had reached the harbor of Giresun on the Black Sea. The genocide carried out by the Young Turks against the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire had been underway since April. Like so many of her unfortunate companions, Serpouhi Hovaghian had to give up her 4-year-old son along the way, and would stay in hiding for years, repeatedly changing residences. Over the course of her long time underground, she kept a notebook to more or less regularly set down her experience and the events she heard about in a personal diary of sorts, written in Armenian, then French, with some passages in Greek. In this fragmented narrative, she described her journey across Anatolia, subsequent to her deportation from Trebizond where she lived with her family in June 1915, and her reclusive life in Giresun.

To understand and elucidate this fragile, heart-rending document, the Éditions de la BnF worked with Raymond Kévorkian, a leading specialist in Armenian history, who present an indispensable critical edition.

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On May 11, extracts from the notebook will be read by actress Anna Mouglalis at the BnF. The reading will be preceded by an introduction to the book by Anny Romand, granddaughter of Serpouhi Hovaghian and a presentation by Raymond Kévorkian and Maximilien Girard.

The BnF preserves a unique heritage in the world: more than 40 million documents, including 15 million books and magazines, but also manuscripts, prints, photographs, maps and plans, music sheets, coins, medals, sound documents, videos…
The BnF transmits part of the memory of the world. Its encyclopedic collections – physical and digital – have fueled thought for nearly 5 centuries.

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