Archag Hovhannesi Tchopanian - 1872-1954 (alternate spelling
Arshak Tchobanian/ Chopanian) was born in Constantinople. His
father made his living as a goldsmith. He was educated in the local
Makruhian School and later at the Kedronakan School. He was a poet,
playwright, literary critic, journalist and translator.
His began a literary career early, writing and translating for
several periodicals: Burastan Mankantz, Arevelik, Masis, Hayrenik.
In 1895 he assumed editorship of another periodical, Tsaghik. It
was a short-lived position because he fled to Paris that same year
to escape persecution by the Turks. In Paris, he founded Anahit
(1898-1911- revived in 1929-1940 and again revived 1946-1949) which
became a celebrated literary-cultural periodical. He also contributed
his editorial talents to two other short-lived periodicals, Veratznund
(1917-1919) and Apaga (1921-1924).
A member of the Ramkavar party, he covered all the issues of the
day; his scope was widespread. He was one of the earliest poets
to incorporate Western forms and taste into Armenian literature.
Tchopanian is remembered for establishing the formative stages for
literary criticism in Armenian letters. He rendered critical literary
studies of Nahapet Kuchak and other writers, including Petros Dourian,
Mkrtich Peshtishkalian. He was the first to analyze the writing
of St. Grigor Narekatsi. He recognized his work not only for its
religious value. He documented St. Grigor’s heritage as a
distinguished literary masterpiece and it is to Tchopanian’s
credit that St. Grigor is appreciated and revered today as one of
the world’s greatest writers.
Tchopanian also wrote literary criticism of Western-European writers
such as Victor Hugo, Honore de Balzac, Emile Zola, Henrik Ibsen,
Emile Verhaeren and Russian writers such as Alexander Pushkin, Nikolay
Gogol, Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev, and Leo Tolstoy. Tchopanian’s
translation into French of Armenian modern and medieval writers
is one of his great legacies. The pinnacle of Tchopanian’s
work, however, was the three-volume collection entitled, Vardenik
Hayastani. Other important works include Tughti parq. (1892) a novelette,
a collection of short-stories entitled Tghu hoginer (1923), and
two dramas, Mut Khaver (1893) and Hrashqy (1923). His poems were
published as poetical collections: Arshaluysi Dzayner (1891),Thrthrumner
In 1933 Tchopanian made a visit to Soviet Armenia. He was respected
among the prominent Eastern Armenian writers of his day such as
Alexander Shirvanzade, Avetik Isahakyan, and Hovhannes Toumanian.
He also was held in high regard by the French writer, Anatole France;
the Belgium poet, Emile Verhaeren; Russian artists and writers,
Romen Rollan, and Valerij Brusov as well as a host of other world
by Ruth Bedevian