Hovhannes Hovhanessian (1864-1929) contributed to the Modern Armenian
(Ashkharabar) literature movement. He continued the legacy of Abovian,
Raffi and Nalbandian to create a language to help the masses to
become literate as a means to enlighten them and bring the population
out of the feudal system that was entrenched in Armenia in the early
19th century. He was born in Etchmiadzin and arose as part of the
intellectual circles in the Russian Empire. He is best known as
a linguist, translator and poet. He studied in Yerevan and at the
Lazarian Institute in Moscow and Moscow University (1884-1888).
He began his teaching career at Gevorkian Seminary and in later
years, he worked in educational and cultural administration for
the Soviet government.
He was a contemporary of Charents, Toumanian, Shirvanzade, Teghian
and Komitas. Each of these men studied at the prestigious Gevorkian
Seminary. Together with the Russian linguist and writer Valeri Brusov,
he translated the first edition of ancient Armenian manuscripts
into Modern Armenian. Hovhanessian also translated the first modern
Armenian editions of works by Schiller, Pushkin, Goethe, Nekrasov,
Ibsen and Hainze. His translation of Shakespeare is still held in
the highest regard by literary critics today.
The Hovhannes Hovhanessian House Museum in Etchmiadzin was established
by his daughter and can be visited Monday through Saturdays year
round. The museum is in the courtyard behind the Abeghian Museum.
Pictures and artifacts of his life are on display, including his
study with his favorite fishing pole and a copy of Tergenov left
exactly as he placed it on the day he died. Part of the intellectual
circles that created the new socialist republic, Hovhanessian was
among those suspected by Stalin as a counter-revolutionary, but
he died before the purges of 1936/1937, which annihilated such luminaries
such as Yessayan, Charents, Totovents, and Bakountz...