“In Armenia, everyone seems to know such things. It seems that in Armenia, there is no beginning to history – it has always been. And during its eternal existence, it has consecrated every stone and every step.
There is probably no village that hasn’t been a capital of an ancient state, there are no hills that haven’t seen a decisive battle, there is no stone not covered with blood, and there is no individual who does not care.
‘Andrei, look, that mountain, see? And another one nearby… Here, between them, Andranik faced the Turks and stopped them, and they turned back…’
‘Do you see the pipe? And a long building next to it? This is a thermal power plant built a few years ago. The Molokans used to live here.’
‘And here, Pushkin met an araba with Griboyedov…’
And so on without end. This was told to me by drivers and writers, cooks and party workers, adults and children.
And there was no home without a thick blue book with three beautiful confident letters on the cover – LEO. I saw it in those houses where, in general, there weren’t many books – just one or the other of the three blue volumes of LEO.
Leo was a historian who wrote a three-volume work on the history of Armenia. A very popular work.
He is like our Karamzin or Solovyov. I ask Russians:
‘Have you read Karamzin?’
‘Solovyov has been recently reprinted, have you read him?’
It’s unlikely that I will find a volume of Solovyov with a driver or construction superintendent. Only one out of ten writers have these works. For example, I haven’t read them.
And Leo is read and read. Leo is everywhere. He is read as conscientiously as he has written. And he has written and written, unaware of anything else in life. From morning to evening, he has written, every day and his whole life.”
“Lessons from Armenia”, Andrey Bitov, 1969