Vostanik’s Letters to Kostan Zarian






The author publishes fifteen letters addressed by Iranian-Armenian poet Vostanik (Vostanik Hovhannisian, 1896-1954) to one of the foremost names of Armenian literature in the twentieth century, Kostan Zarian (1885-1969). Zarian never set foot in Iran, but had contacts with Armenian writers living there, of which these letters from Vostanik, written between 1927 and 1950, give the most extensive testimony available so far. The originals are deposited in Zarian’s file at the Museum of Literature and Art “Yeghishe Charents” (Yerevan).

Vostanik had a wandering life. Born in Van (Western Armenia), he lost his father very early. After receiving his elementary education in various schools of his birthplace, in 1913 he moved to the Caucasus, where he studied at the Gevorgian Lyceum of Saint Echmiadzin. He left unfinished his studies to enroll in the voluntary movement of 1915 and afterwards, during the first Republic of Armenia, worked in various newspapers as journalist and editor. After the fall of the Republic, he went to Tabriz and from there to Paris, where he mostly lived until 1934 (he also lived for a while in Bruxelles and, it seems, in Italy). He was member of the short-lived, but nevertheless famous “Menk” (We) literary group. In 1934, he moved to Tehran, where he worked as a teacher until his death. He was the author of several works of poetry and of a book of memoirs, which was left unpublished.

It appears that both writers knew each other since 1924-1925, at the time when Zarian was living in Paris. Afterwards, he moved to Venice, and probably met Vostanik occassionally during his visits to the French capital. Their correspondence restarted in 1946, when Zarian was in the United States. He returned to Europe in 1947 and settled in the Italian island of Ischia until 1951.

The letters are particularly interesting in their details about Vostanik’s life and activities, as well as, by reflection, in details about Zarian’s life. They also give a glimpse of French cultural life in the late 1920s and Iranian cultural life in the late 1940s. The publication has been enriched with extensive footnotes.