Գրիգոր Զոհրապը եւ նրա ժամանակը (1861-1915)

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GRIGOR ZOHRAP AND HIS TIME (1861-1915)

 

SHOGHIK VOSKANIAN

 

150th birth anniversary of G. Zohrap will be celebrated on June 2011. This article is devoted to his life and carrier, to the interpretation of this famous writer, journalist and layer's activities, and to his national and pedagogical opi­nions.

G. Zohrap lived a short but significant and rich life. He was a man having exceptional capacities and unlimited intellectual possibilities, which remarkable evidence is given by his works' variety: poetry, fiction, journalism, edition of books, literary criticism, biographies; he was also a layer, orator, national and statesman, which evidently shows the he was a man of enigmatic life, a man “unique in his exceptionality and who remained unique until the end”. No one of his contemporaries ever has been so deeply studied as G. Zohrap. He is one of the most investigated, but never definitely studied, and one of the most inte­resting figures of the Western Armenian culture.

The most part of the life and activities of G. Zohrap took place during the tyrannical regime of Sultan Hamid, while Turkey and nations under its domination were constrained to live in awful conditions of unspeakable juridical, economical and cultural pressure. In 1878, after the Berlin Congress, when Hamid's program of Armenians' physical extermination and the catchword “Armenia without Armenians” were meant to realization, one might have ex­ceptional force, will and energy to not only struggle, but also create. G. Zohrap was among the few persons who struggled with all accessible and inac­cessible means: creation, journalism, appeals to different juridical instances and par­liaments (state and national), secretly and publicly, using his personal ties and relations.

Zohrap's struggle and protest against violence, injustice, and men's rights violation weren't only limited by national frames. He courageously fought against international tyranny, trampling on men's rights, national discrimination, ethnic intolerance and racism.

The years between 1908 and 1915 were G. Zohrap's public, political, literary and cultural activities' most fertile period, when he was a member of Turkish Parliament and Armenian National Assembly; he was elected in almost all elections and participated with great energy to electoral activities, came out with legislative long speeches and reports, put forward information and theses in conformity with European criteria.

In the conditions of Hamid's military and administrative tyranny Zohrap was a prominent national and political figure, an unequaled orator and critic, fighting boldly, courageously and with admirable devotion in order to make the life of his suffering nation more or less supportable. The most part of his parliament speeches were full of critical observations against the inhumane and reactionary policy of the Ottoman regime.

As numerous other people did, Zohrap felt himself concerned by the Armenian problem. Foreseeing the anti-Armenian political intentions of the Ittihadist party, on his own initiative he carried out negotiations with diverse countries' ambassadors in order to introduce some reforms in Armenian provinces.

On May 1913, a brochure by Zohrap was printed in Paris under the pseudonym Marcel Lռard. It was entitled The Armenian Problem in the Light of Documents and contained huge documental material about the political situation of Western Armenians, their culture, schools and economical condition. This publication is an important document either about the political and cultural life of Western Armenia at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, or the study of modern history of Armenia.

There are not pedagogical works in the literary legacy of G. Zohrap and he scarcely was busy practicing pedagogy. Nevertheless he was well acquainted with the problems of national school and took active participation in their solution, as well as school reform activities. He excellently mastered advanced pedagogical theories, have read works of classical pedagogy and knew its pedagogical doctrines. Besides, his novels and short stories, alongside with their artistic value, are also of great instructive, educational and psychological importance; so their role in the education of young generations can hardly be overestimated.

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