Not long ago professor of Harvard University, the head of the department of Armenology James Russell presented his research about the epos “The Son of the Blind”, which is considered to be a monument of Azerbaijan’s epopee literature.
For the first time for the Armenian audience Russell delivered a lecture on the discovery of Armenian manuscripts with fragments of the epos “The Son of the Blind”, which have been for a very long time stored in the “Armenian Library and the Museum of America”, as well as historical and sociological conditions that made such an epos possible.
The epic is mostly known by Turkish name “Koroglu” and consists of 30 parts or “branches”. The hero of the epos, according to Russell, is an archetype of a hero, which can be found in many cultures: “A brave and cheerful robber who rebels against an evil power and, taking away from the rich, gives to the poor.”
Russell notes that the epos began to take shape five centuries before the story of Robin Hood was told. The historical Robin Hood of the XIV century itself seems to have inherited literary cliches and features of the folk narrative. “Koroglu” has passed through the whole Central Asia, being influenced by different cultures and languages.
“Soviet Armenians knew this epos from operas and Russian versions of the text. Only few of them assumed that its roots were in Armenia and Armenian culture. This happened partly because it was appropriated by Turkey and Azerbaijan, and partly because its heroes are indeed Muslims with Turkic and Persian names, and most versions of the epos are written in Turkic languages, although there are also Kurdish, Persian and Armenian versions.”
Russell thinks that that is, perhaps, the main factor of this epos not being so studied by Armenologists. “The cultural abyss has become so wide that the idea of the existence of a common literary work of this kind has become almost unthinkable,” – concluded Russell.