Ovanes Tumanian

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Tumanian, Ovanes Tadevosovich


Born Feb. 7 (19), 1869, in the village of Dsekh, in what is now Tumanian Raion, Armenian SSR; died Mar. 23,1923, in Moscow. Armenian writer and public figure.

The son of a priest, Tumanian worked for an Armenian ecclesiastical consistory in Tbilisi beginning in 1887. He then worked in the office of an Armenian publishing association until 1893. He began writing in the mid-1880’s and contributed to Armenian newspapers and journals. Tumanian gained fame as a poet with the publication of his collection Poetry (vols. 1–2, 1890–92). His narrative poems, verses, and ballads of the 1890’s reflected so-ciopsychological conflicts, popular customs, and folkloric traditions.

Tumanian’s work attained maturity in the 1890’s and in the early years of the 20th century, when he wrote mainly epic poetry that brilliantly depicted the life of the Armenian patriarchal village with its sometimes tragic conflicts. Examples were the narrative poems Maro (1887, published 1892), Loretsi Sako (1889, published 1890), and particularly Anush (1890, published 1892; second version, 1901–02, published 1903). The narrative poem The Moaning (1890, published 1893 and 1914) dealt with the spontaneous protest of the peasant masses against feudal and capitalist oppression. The narrative poem The Poet and the Muse (1899, published 1901) was about the lofty role of poetry, and the unfinished folk narrative poem The Nightingale With a Thousand Voices was devoted to philosophical and aesthetic issues.

Tumanian’s work is indissolubly linked with folklore. His fidelity to folkloric sources was combined with vividly expressed democratic and humanist ideas. Folk traditions inspired the narrative poem The Taking of the Fortress of Tmuk (1902, published 1905). Tumanian based many of his ballads on Armenian and Eastern legends and traditions; examples were Akhtamar (1892), Parvana (1903), A Drop of Honey (1909), Dovecote (1913), and The Shah and the Peddler (1917). Using several variants of the Armenian epos David ofSasun, Tumanian wrote a narrative poem with the same title (1902, published 1903) that is the best reworking of heroic tales in Armenian literature.

Tumanian’s short stories reveal the inner world of the peasant. They are works of profundity and great artistry, remarkable for their authentic details and their portrayal of forceful personalities. In the 1900’s, Tumanian wrote a number of works of children’s literature and contributed to the children’s journal Asker (founded 1905).

Tumanian became involved in public affairs beginning in the early 20th century. Between 1905 and 1907 he protested against bloody clashes between nationalities. He was arrested twice, in 1908 and 1911. In 1899 he organized the literary circle Vernatun (The Garret), with which many prominent Armenian writers were associated. From 1912 to 1921, Tumanian was chairman of the Caucasian Society of Armenian Writers.

Tumanian advocated collaboration with the democratic forces in Russia. He unconditionally accepted the October Revolution of 1917 and Soviet power in Armenia, and served as chairman of the Committee to Aid Armenia in 1921–22. Tumanian helped establish a new Armenian culture and to this end published numerous articles dealing with public affairs, literature, folklore, and the development of the Armenian literary language and of Armenian dialects.

Tumanian’s works promoted the development of realism and of a national spirit in Armenian literature. Themes from his works have been reflected in paintings, plays, motion pictures, and music, for example, the opera Anush by A. Tigranian (staged 1912) and the opera Almost by A. Spendiarov (staged 1930). Tumanian’s works have been translated into numerous languages.


T’umanyan, H. Erkeri zhoghovatsu, vols. 1–6. Yerevan, 1940–51.
Erkeri zhoghovatsu, vols. 1–4. Yerevan, 1969.
Hayrenik’is het [Banasteghts ut’yunner]. Tbilisi, 1916.
Banasteghts ut’yunner. Compiled by K. Poyis, 1922.
In Russian translation:
Izbrannye proizvedeniia, vols. 1–2. [Introductory article by N. Tumanian.] Moscow, 1960.
Stikhotvoreniia ipoemy. Leningrad, 1969.
Lirika. Moscow, 1969.
Izbr. proizvedeniia, vols. 1–3. Yerevan, 1969.


Briusov, V. Ia. Ob Armenii i armianskoi kul’ture. Yerevan, 1963.
Akhverdian, L. O. Mir Tumaniana. Moscow, 1969.
Grigor’ian, K. N. Ovanes Tumanian, 1869–1923. Yerevan, 1969.
Dzhrbashian, E. M. Poeziia Tumaniana. Moscow, 1969.
Tumanian 100: Iubileinaia letopis’. Yerevan, 1974.
Hovhannes Tumanyan: Matenagitut’yun. Yerevan, 1961.
Jrbashyan, E. M. Tumanyanipoemnere. Yerevan, 1964.
Nuyni. Tumanyani balladnere. Yerevan, 1969.
Hakhverdyan, L. Tumanyani ashkharhe. Yerevan, 1966.
Tumanyane zhamanakakrts’neri husherun. Yerevan, 1969.
Tumanyan—100: Hobelyanakan taregrut’yun. Edited by A. V. Khach’ikyan and L. H. Hakhverdyan. Yerevan, 1972.


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