The beginning of modern Armenian literature was connected with 2 big historical-political events- the end of 1st World War (1914-1918) and restoration of Armenian statehood. In 1918 western Armenian literature transited into Diaspora Armenian literature. Around 9 decades of historical development modern Armenian literature had a difficult and contradictory path, which was conditioned by the patterns of public-political life in country, had both years of rise and fall. Soviet Armenian literature could preserve traditions and spirit of centuries. In 1918 with the restoration of Armenian statehood began new era of historical and cultural life. Under the leadership of minister of Public Education and Art of the republic Nikol Axbalyan was established Armenian literary company, organized literary and cultural events, published books, but at the result of the collapse of the first republic many projects were not implemented.
Armenian literature in 1920-40s
In the early years of 1920-30s in the Socialist Soviet Republic of Armenia developmental ways of artistic literature had been mentioned. A radical revolution in the life of the people dictated the development of a new feature of fiction, but the most urgent question became the problem of the creative staff. Some of senior writers had left arena or had been abroad (Nar-Dos, Isahakyan, Shirvanzade), Grigor Zohrap, Daniel Varujan, Ruben Sevak, Siamanto and many others were victims of the Great Genocide. The most important event of the literary movement was “Three’s” group, founded by Charents, Abov and Vshtuni: in 1992 14th of June in the daily newspaper “Soviet Armenia” was published aesthetic article “Three’s Declaration”.
Following the general patterns of worldwide and Russian literary developments like proletarians and futurist they rejected the artistic legacy of the past. The most typical features of this movement were the desire to say something new in content and form, the requirement to embody a new artistic language, searching methodical ways of literary development. For that reason first of all they rejected classical traditions. After splitting “Three’s”, literary movement was justified in proletarian groups. Core of literary groups and activity of their periodicals was the creation of mass literature. The Association of Writers of Soviet Armenia also assumed such a role. There also had been Armenian literary company, “Noyember”, Union writers of Armenian fiction literature workers. In the early twenties the problem of material possibility of new Armenian literature became a priority.
Though new government was facing difficulties, took all measures for the development of the literature. Despite the lack of extensive publishing opportunities, year after year in Soviet Armenia was increasing list of books and printing. In 20-30s group self-isolation became a great problem for literary development. In this situation Committee of the Communist Party of Soviet Union published decision about the reconstruction of literary fiction organizations, according to which writers also united under one organization in Armenia.
From August 1, 1934, to 8 the first congress of Armenian writers took place, where was formed Writers’ Union. It operates to this day. The development of the Armenian literature of that period was characterized by the process of overcoming “national isolation”, in which was decisive the role of Russian literature. From the end of 20s Armenian literature was gradually expanding the range of all-Union circulation. In 30s translation work was gaining new momentum, which was influenced by the visits of the creative brigades of Russian writers to Armenia.
The main questions of the literature of these years were about differences between the old and the new, economic growth of Armenia, people’s relationships, village and city, new life and the issues of social transformation of the country, which have found a direct response in poetry, prose and drama. New poetic searches had been reflected in the works of Charents, Vshtuni, Abov, Mahari, Alazan. At the same period prose was influenced by stories and novels of Bakunc, Zoryan, Demirchyan, Movses Araz. In the area of satire great success had achieved Ler Kamsar, Matevos Darbinyan. Charents, Mahari and Demirchyan made the first attempts in theatrical performance. Since the middle of 1920s a deep and meaningful picture of life had been important, a struggle had been fought against already rooted and deepening ideological schematism.
There had been debates over these issues, and the classic values of the modern period of Armenian literature had been created. Description of the writer of modern period was formed, and art literature had gained 2 main ways for the development: on the one hand faithful writers to the national traditions and high demands of art, on the other, all those who make literature a prose and prose verse in political or social-economic slogans. First ones were punished, imprisoned, deported or were shot, second ones were sponsored, rewarded.
There had been some changes in the assessment of literary heritage in the early 30’s. The peak of appreciation for past art monuments was the celebration of the 1000th anniversary of “Sasuntci David” epic (1939). On the one hand cosmopolitism, abstract technology and vulgar sociology had been opposed, on the other hand country, national traditions, human psychology. At the result on one side were the ideological “devotees” of the country and literature, on the other side “nationalists”, “the enemies of the people”. Charents, Bakunc, Totovenc and many others fell victim to this devastating struggle, Mahari, Esayan, Ler Kamsar and many others were deported. It had artificially disrupted the normal development of literature and the ranks of writers had been supplemented by socialism construction, collectivist movement, second-rate writers praising industrial success or ashugs praising the worship of a person.