Nalbandian, Mikael

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Nalbandian, Mikael


(also, Mikhail Lazarevich Nalbandov). Born Nov. 2(14), 1829, in Nizhnii Nakhichevan, now a city raion of Rostovon-Don; died Mar. 31 (Apr. 12), 1866, in Kamyshin. Armenian writer, philosopher, revolutionary democrat, and Utopian socialist.

Nalbandian was the son of a handicraftsman. He studied at the medical faculty of Moscow University (1855–58). From 1858 to 1860 he contributed to the Moscow-based Armenian journal Hyusisap’ayl (Northern Lights). During the revolutionary fervor of 1858–61 in Russia, Nalbandian, influenced by propaganda in Kolokol (The Bell) and Sovremennik (The Contemporary), was the first Armenian writer to become a revolutionary democrat.

Between 1860 and 1862, Nalbandian traveled in Turkey, India, and Western Europe. In Constantinople he founded the secret revolutionary society The Party of the Young, grouped around the Armenian journal Medzu (The Bee). In London, Nalbandian became acquainted with A. I. Herzen, N. P. Ogarev, M. A. Bakunin, and N. A. Serno-Solov’evich. He contributed to the article-proclamation “What Do the People Need?”, which contained the program of the future Zemlia i volia (Land and Liberty) society. In his pamphlet Two Lines (1861), Nalbandian asserted his political credo: to dedicate his life to the task of liberating the people.

In his chief polemical work, Agriculture as the True Path (1862), Nalbandian subjected the peasant reforms of 1861 to scathing criticism; he did this, however, from the standpoint of peasant-communal socialism. He considered a peasant revolution to be the only salvation for postreform Russia. After his return to Russia, he was arrested and imprisoned in the Aleksei Ravelin of the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg (July 1862). He was tried during the Trial of the 32 and in November 1865, ill with tuberculosis, he was exiled to Kamyshin.

Nalbandian had a wide-ranging education. He studied philosophy, political economy, linguistics, and pedagogy. He was an adherent of the anthropological materialism of L. Feuer-bach and N. G. Chernyshevskii and a tireless propagandist of the natural sciences. His philosophy represents an important stage in the history of Armenian social thought. In his practical revolutionary activity, Nalbandian strove to unite the democratic forces of the Armenian people in Russia and abroad with the Russian liberation movement.

Nalbandian was the founder of critical realism in Armenian literature and the author of the novels One Gets the Promise, the Other Gets the Bride (1858), Interrogation of the Dead (1859, unfinished), and A Diary (1858–60). While in the fortress, he wrote the long antireligious narrative poem A Forefather’s Adventure (1864, published 1903). Nalbandian’s civic lyric poetry, imbued with the fervor of the struggle for liberty, enjoyed enormous success. Nalbandian laid the foundations of Armenian realistic criticism and aesthetics. He expressed his literary views in A Word About Armenian Literature (1854—55, published 1895), Criticism (1858), and The National Theater in Constantinople (1861). He based his theory of aesthetics on the principles of anthropological materialism.

Nalbandian championed the establishment of a new Armenian literary language (Ashkharhabar) to replace the dead bookish language (Grabar), for which he was subjected to attack by the clergy and other reactionaries. He translated the poetry of A. S. Pushkin, M. Iu. Lermontov, H. Heine, and others into Armenian.


[Nalbandyan, M.] Erkeri liakatar zhogovatsu, vols. 1–4. Yerevan, 1940–49.
In Russian translation:
Izbr. soch. Yerevan, 1941.
Izbr. filosofskie i obshchestvenno-politicheskie proizvedeniia. Moscow, 1954.
Stikhotvoreniia. Moscow, 1967.
Soch., vols. 1–2. Yerevan, 1968–70.


Miasnikian, A. F. Izbr. proizvedeniia. Yerevan, 1965.
Shaumian, S. Literaturno-kriticheskie stat’i, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1955.
Khachatrian, A. B. “Mirovozzrenie M. L. Nalbandiana.” Uch. zap. MGPI im. V. I. Lenina, 1962, no. 171, pp. 3–328.
Gulanian, Kh. G. Mikael Nalbandian. Moscow, 1955.
Daronian, S. M. Nalbandian. Moscow, 1963.
Daronian, S. M. Nalbandian i russkie revoliutsionnye demokraty. Moscow, 1967.
Inchikyan, A. M. Mik’ayel Nalbandyan kyank’i ev gortsuneut’yan tare-grut’yune. Yerevan, 1954.
Lovhannisyan, A. G. Nalbandyane ev nra zhananake, books 1–2. Yerevan, 1955–56.
Margaryan, A. M. Nalbandyani lezvagitakan gortsuneut’yune. Yerevan, 1957.
Sargsyan, Kh. S. Nalbandyani grakan steghtsagortsut’yune. Yerevan, 1959.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.