Vahan Totovents

Time: 19th Century - 20th Century
Language: Eastern Armenian
Genres: Prose

(born September 1, 1889 – died July 18, 1938) Armenian prose writer

Vahan Totovents was born in Mezre village which was located at the bank of Ephrat River in Kharberd province of Ottoman Empire. Vahan’s father was from the rich family of Totovayenc from Akn city, who moved to Akn in 18th century with other migrant families. Vahan’s family had a two floor private house on the road from Mezre to Kharberd, which was a famous road and it was the only passage route for caravans coming from far countries. Later Totovenc was remembering this road as “old roman route”.

His preliminary education Totovents received in Mezre “ National Central College”, which had become a famous  education facility owing to unselfish efforts of Archimandrite Psak, Erukhan, Simon Hakobyan Ruben Zardaryan and others.

Totovents mostly devoted himself to teaching of Armenian language and he wrote verses which were published in handwritten monthly newspaper of the college under Guyumjyan pseudonym. During his last year of his studies he often visited to Tlkatineci’s private college called “Red School” in Kharberd, where he studied different literary courses. At this age Totovents was greatly admired by the lyrics of Duryan and Metsarents and it served as source of inspiration for him in his first efforts in poetry.

After graduating from ten year college he left for Constantinople in 1908, where he published his first small book named “Ruins” in the same year and one year later collection of compositions named “Pipe” was published. In 1909 Totovents left for Paris, then to New York. In 1912 he entered University of Wisconsin where he studied literature, history and philosophy. Here Vahan learnt English, French and got acquainted with world classic literature. During his study he had to earn money for tuition fee by doing various physical heavy jobs but mainly worked at his uncle’s carpet trading store.

In 1916-1920 he published “My aunt” (1916), “Tonon” (1917) social short novels, “Sorrow of eternity” (1916), “East” (1918) poems, “Doctor Burbonyan” (1918) satiric novel, various prose poems, and philological and literary articles, in which Totovents’s concerns were expressed over the Armenian nation’s national-political destiny.

In 1923 he was editor of “Shesht” satiric magazine in Yerevan. In 1924-1926 he worked Yerevan State University and at “Soviet Armenia” newspaper.

“Piece of heaven” movie was filmed in Hayfilm based on his “Light blue flowers” story.

In 1915 along with 400 American-Armenian volunteers he went to Caucasian front where took part in emancipation struggle. He conducted public broad activity together with Hovhannes Tumanyan and helped immigrants.

In 1917-1918 he was editor of “Hayastan” newspaper in Tbilisi. He participated in cultural life of Caucasus, Constantinople and other Armenian Diaspora locations. In Totovents’s opinion the salvation of Armenia depended on Russian nation and October Revolution.

Disappointed with the rule of Dashnakcutyun party in Armenia, Totovents left Caucasus and left for Constantinople in May, 1920. In December, 1920 he heard the news about establishment of Soviet regime in Armenia with great inspiration. In 1922 he returned to Soviet Armenia. In 1922 he published novel named “Inside the hurricane” in Constantinople.

In 1938 along with other intellectuals Totovents became victim of Stalin’s repressions.


Source՝  Armenian Soviet Encyclopedia,  valume  4, page  195.