Hovhannes Tlgadintsi (Harutyunyan) served for 28 years as director of the Getronagan school, from the time he founded it as a 27 year old teacher in 1887 until his death in 1915 in the Great Calamity. Although he was one of the brilliant authors of his time, he never put being an educator into a secondary role. Perhaps more than his articles and books, he prided himself on the students he raised. The school that he established in competition with the
Tlgadintsi was born in the
As a theme, he always took various aspects of village life. From his pen, issued forth exciting ups and downs; at times a delicate sorrow but most often humor and satire. He talked of ethical pressures that drowned women, decrepit customs, ineptitude of religious officials, emptiness of the education given in village schools, young women sent from Harput to America to be married to a man they had just seen in a single photograph. He was always concerned with the problems of his people, especially with social injustices. He pointed out reasons for the backwardness of the village populations and the terrible results of this situation. Like all Armenian authors sensitive to social problems during the Abdulhamid period, he was scrutinized and harrassed. Being a school director who continued to write in the midst of problems was enough to draw the anger of political powers. After the massacres of 1894-96, he did not withhold from describing the squalor and misery of widows and orphans with a sharp observing eye and a bold pen. In 1903, without any concrete accusations, he was jailed for nine months.
A number of Tlgadintsi’s students became writers themselves. The most famous is Rupen Zartaryan of
April 13, 2007
An excerptAfter settling in America, whoever wishes for a fiancee from Harput sends a hefty sum – enough to cover travel and engagement expenses – to his parents, or if they are not alive, to a relative and asks them to find one of the fresh virgins of the country and bring her immediately, or, if they are not able to come themselves, to send that fresh young fish under the care of someone. A girl to his specifications or more than his specifications is soon found. For, if a suitable bride-to-be is not to be found in this house, there is bound to be two or three behind that door, there. On display in the hamams, churches, orphanages, there are thousands of girls who resemble blooming lilies of the valley and would come to resemble withered poppies soon. (...) When the day of bargaining arrives, the woman on the male side, the mother or relative, will engage in such charlatan behavior to assure a favorable outcome that their sweet tongues can talk even a snake out of its hiding hole. Ah, the pupil of their eye is a lord over there, earns so many dollars a week, many rich girls are pursuing him but he rejects all and is adamant in wanting a girl from his country. When the mother or relative hands over the photograph of their precious one to the girl’s guardians, she is sure to mention the age: past 28, but not quite 29. A young man built like a bull, the apple of his boss’s eye.
Hovhannes Tlgadintsi, “The Child in the Picture”, 1905