This Week in Armenian History

Birth of Vigen Khechumian (December 15, 1916)

Vigen Khechumian was one of the most original and less known prose writers of Soviet Armenian literature.  

He was born in Yerevan on December 15, 1916. He worked at the Matenadaran between 1938 and 1940, when he graduated from the Faculty of History of Yerevan State University. In the same year he was drafted to the Soviet army and fought until 1943 in World War II. After his return from the battlefront, in 1943 he became head of the manuscript libtary of the Matenadaran and held this position until 1956. Afterwards, he was deputy editor of the literary journal Sovetakan Grakanutiun. He passed away on April 17, 1975.  

His lengthy career in contact with old Armenian manuscripts gave Khechumian the opportunity to get acquianted with many episodes of the past that had remained on the margins of the texts and colophons. He also wrote on contemporary issues, but his most successful works were devoted to medieval times: “What I write is a dialogue of day and night with the ancient Armenian manuscripts, a book of books about them… Those books are openhearted letters of years past addressed to the future newcomers.”  

Khechumian published his first short story in 1939. His most important works are the historical novel Zvartnotz (1945), the volume of short stories Book of Exile (1959), the novels Book of Existence (1966) and Book of Resistance (1968). The collection of essays Book of Books was published posthumously (1978).