“In each of my works I kept the Armenian people before my eyes, its past, its history, its sad present. Whether I did it well or badly, all I wished to do was to communicate my thoughts and feelings to my people.” – Muratsan, Autobiography, ca. 1885. (Collected Works, Vol. 7 (Yerevan: Hayastan Press, 1965), p. 141-42)
Muratsan (Grigor Ter-Hovhannisian)
Another link in the already impoverished chain of figures of Armenian literature has been undone…
At the Mikayelian Hospital in Tiflis, the talented Armenian novelist Muratsan (Grigor Ter-Hovhannisian) passed away on August 30 after suffering a severe mental illness.
Muratsan takes an honorable place in our literature due to his eloquent and reach language, and his gifted pen of novelist. He was also a playwright. His “Ruzan” for а long time was and is an adornment of the Armenian theatrical repertoire as one of the best among our national-historical novels.
Muratsan was a modest laborer of pen and avoided publicity. Maybe that was the reason he remained behind the curtain of public life.
He entered the literary arena in the early eighties, publishing his works primarily in our periodicals. He wrote for the “Pordz” Monthly, for periodicals like “Meghu Hayastani” (“The Family of the Armenian Protestant”), “Ardzagank” (besides minor works like “Mrs.Piloyan, also his masterpiece “Marzpetuni” novel was published there). “Nor Dar” (“My Catholic Bride,” “A Princess Unconditionally,” “The mysterious Nun,” “At the Center of Enlightenment,” etc.). The fruits of his pen were read with great interest everywhere. It is widely known that the issues of “Nor Dar,” that contained Muratsan’s novels were passed from hand to hand and were read with delight.
Besides the above-mentioned periodicals, during the last period of his life, the deceased wrote also for “Luma” (“Noah’s Crow,” “Andreas the Priest,” etc.) and “Tatron” (“Ruzan,” “On Demand”) journals. His only, but celebrated theatrical play “Ruzan,” the author published quite late and the only reason for it was that his vigorous desire to further improve the work. Prior to being published, his works were being performed at our stages based on his handwritten texts. It would be interesting to learn if those frequent performances provided any minimal payment to the laborious but poor author…
In the last days of his life, he still went on improving “Ruzan.” He asked our talented composer Komitas Vardapet to write the music to the lyrics of songs in the novel.
In fact, Muratsan has been one of the stepsons for our society and his life passed in sufferings and misfortunes. He was also a victim of unhappy family circumstances. In other — more favorable conditions, he might be reckoned among our other prominent figures.
Muratsan was born in Shushi (in 1854). He graduated from the Armenian diocesan school in the same city. Immediately after graduation, he practiced in the trying sphere of teaching. Later he moved to Tiflis and worked at a commercial firm as an accountant.
Although the much of novelist’s life was miserable, but his funeral was grand. Commonly, we the Armenians are very good at providing lavish funerals.
Muratsan’s burial took place on September 7. The requiem was performed by a special funeral commission organized for that occasion. Last rites were administered by the diocesan bishop right at the hospital. He also delivered the eulogy at the coffin at the cathedral church of the monastery. Both at the churchyard and at the cemetery quite a lot people spoke at graveside. Almost all strata of Armenian society participated at the burial both personally and through representatives. Representatives were present also from many cities and institutions, including the Seminary of the Mother See. Wreaths were laid at the grave, monetary and other donations were made and quite a lot telegrams of condolences, including from the editorial staff of Ararat journal were received by the funeral commission. The ceremony was carefully prepared and conducted by the commision, which of course deserves deep gratitude.
Muratsan was buried at the Tiflis Hojivank cemetery next to the graves of his fellow writers Tserents and Raffi.
Peace be upon your bones our prolific writer.
“Muratsan Obituary,” Ararat Monthly of Patriarchal See of Holy Etchmiadzin, (1908):9 (Sept), pp. 836-838
1854 He was born in Shushi on December 1, in the family of a artisan.
1866 His father died, and the 12-year-old Grigor moved to a public school
1873 He graduated from the diocesan school in Shushi, before that he studied at several private schools
1874-1876 He taught Armenian language and history at the school of the famous literary scholar Khoren Stepane
1876-1877 He research and visited the historical monuments of Artsakh and Syunik, studied ancient chronicles, then improved his knowledge of the French language
1878 He moved to Tiflis
1881 Wrote the historical drama “Ruzan or the Patriot Lady”
1882 Wrote the novella “The family of an Armenian Protestant”
1884 Wrote the novella “Adoptee of Society”, “The Rich Have Fun”
1885 Wrote the novel “My Catholic Bride”
1886 Wrote the novel “The Brat”
1889 Wrote the novella “The Mysterious Nun”
1892 Wrote the novel “The Center of Enlightenment”
1896 Wrote the historical novel “Gevorg Marzpetuni”
1897-1898 Wrote the historical novel “Andrea the Priest”
1899 Wrote the novella “Noah’s Crow”
1902 Wrote the novella “The Apostle”, “Sisters of Mercy”
1897-1903 Wrote novella and stories sharply criticizing the ideology of bourgeois charity and liberalism, revealing inexplicable paradoxes hidden in the human psychology.
1908 He died in Tiflis.
*Excerpeted from Margaryan, Lusine, “Classic Armenian Authors: Muratsan”, (Yerevan, 2010).