Nareg / Book of Lamentations
Nareg / Book of Lamentations
According to scholar Haig Utidjian, “This is a well-known book. Though Archimandrite (later Catholicos-Coadjutor) Papken Güleserian (Babgén Kiwlésérean) and also Manuk Abeghean had, at different times, suggested that the Book of Lamentation of St. Gregory of Narek might be treated as being in verse and not prose (in fact it often slides from one to the other with perfect fluency).
One of the most eminent Armaš alumni, Archbishop (later Constantinopolitan Patriarch) Garegin Xač’aturean Trapizoni, though in the early 1920s he had already published a prose translation into Modern Western Armenian of the work, in 1948 published this handsome volume, presenting the original as verse for the first time.
It includes, on facing pages, the ancient Armenian text (having possibly also, it seems, in one or two cases, had recourse to manuscripts) broken up into verse, with a new verse translation in Western Armenian on facing pages. The volume also included some interesting introductions and essays, and if I remember rightly, it included the modern Armenian translations of some of the Saint’s odes also.
This is a treasurable book. I saw an exemplar of it in Constantinople some years ago but did not buy it. There is a reprint (but re-formatted and re-typed, and, alas, with very many typographical errors) done, I think early in 2000-something-or-other, published in Aleppo (which I am grateful to possess).
For precision, the early prose translation is to be preferred (and is extremely hard to find these days), but the verse translation is at times rather beautiful. As for the lineation of the original text into verse – though there may be different views on it, the Archbishop’s decisions were also adopted by Archbishop Artavazt for his own edition and, more recently, by Archbishop Zareh Aznaworean of blessed memory. (The Soviet editors chose to change much of that, as well as re-arranging the divisions of each chapter, in a manner that I personally regret, but which unfortunately found its way into the Matenagirk’ Hayoc’ series, of which the relevant volume was a great disappointment to me for various reasons.)
All in all, this is a volume to treasure. The cover of this Nareg/Book of Lamentations is designed/illustrated by the brilliant French Armenian artist Melkon Kebabjian. Just so weird that the design for the rest of the volume is so incongruous with that if the cover! The brilliant French Armenian artist Melkon Kebabjian, who illustrated an Armenian book (Book of Lamentations of Grigor Narekatsi ) that was printed in Buenos Aires in Argentina in 1948, made also excellent color illustrations that are related to cover of that book. He is talented painter who is unfortunately forgotten today.”
According to scholar Chookaszian Levon, “The brilliant French Armenian artist Melkon Kebabjian, who illustrated an Armenian book (Book of Lamentations of Grigor Narekatsi ) that was printed in Buenos Aires in Argentina in 1948, made also excellent color illustrations that are related to cover of that book. He is talented painter who is unfortunately forgotten today.”
An eclectic assemblage of objects coving a wide range of human history.