"To Know Wisdom and Instruction": The Armenian Literary Tradition at the Library of Congress
The Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
Publication in Armenian in the twentieth century centered in the second and third Armenian republics of the period. The first independent republic of Armenia since 1375 lasted from 1918 to1920, when it fell to the Bolsheviks. The second republic, the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, part of the Soviet Union, survived until 1991. The state presses produced scholarly studies and journals on Armenian history, excavation reports, and critical editions of texts, poetry, literature, and music and fine arts, alongside mandatory political materials. Many of these works display exquisite graphic design and illustrations by well-regarded artists. The third and current Republic of Armenia was proclaimed in 1991 after the demise of the USSR. After an initial decline, many independent and state presses are producing a full array of publications.
During the period of the three republics, diasporan scholars were also setting the parameters for the modern study of Armenia. Their efforts fostered the creation of academic chairs and led to a vast array of scholarly publications. Religious and secular organizations and parties within these diasporan communities created and continue to publish journals, newspapers, and works of literature.
Armenian publication in the twenty-first century faces the same challenges as other languages with unique vernacular alphabets—preserving the past while looking towards the future in a technological age. Nonetheless, the increasing digitization of Armenian language works and the production of born-digital materials in Armenian are forging a third phase in Armenian literary history, continuing the rich tradition that began with the creation of the alphabet and the first printed book.