Կեանքի Ջութակը: Keank'i jut'ak [The violin of life].

Tbilisi: 1917. Octavo (18 × 13 cm). Original light green pictorial wrappers illustrated with a drawing by Ziga Valishevskii; 62 pp. Boldly signed and inscribed by the author, "to the sharp and truthful (?) Vrtanes Papazian, with love, Kara-Darvish." Front wrapper lighly worn and discolored (with small abbrasion); internally very good. Item #5802

First and only novel by the Armenian Futurist writer and poet, Hakob Genjian, who wrote using the pseudonym Kara-Darvish ("Black Dervish"). With a striking original wrapper design by the Russian-born Polish artist from Tbilisi, Zygmunt "Ziga" Valishevsky (1897-1936), a friend of Kirill Zdanevich and other artists active in the Georgian capital. Boldly inscribed, in a playful calligraphic manner overlaying and intertwining the Armenian letter forms, "with love" to the prolific writer, editor, and political activist Vrtanes Papazian (1866-1920).

Both Kara-Darvish and Valishevsky were part of the ephemeral "Syndicate of Futurists" which was active in Tbilisi in 1917-1918, and also included Aleksei Kruchenykh, Lado Gudiashvili, and Zdanevich. It was soon replaced by the more famous 41 Degrees (41 Gradus) group. Although Kara-Darvish was older than most other participants of these groups, he was one of the earliest and most enthuasistic propagators of Futurism in Tbilisi and his native Armenia, having authored a slim volume on the movement in 1914 and holding numerous lectures in subsequent years. He experimented with a specifically "Near Eastern" version of zaum', the transrational language developed by Kruchenykh and Velimir Khlebnikov, and also understood futurism as a form of public performance and lifestyle. He was known for his boisterous performances in Tbilisi bars and for selling his poetry on postcards around the city, often with reviews by famous poets ("Kara-Darvish! You are all of the Caucasus. The Caucasus is you! -- David Burliuk"). One of these postcards featured a translation into Russian of his poem, "Pliaska na gorakh" ("Mountain dance") by Osip Mandelstam. See T. Nikol'skaia, "Fantasticheskii gorod: russkaia kul'turnaia zhizn' v Tbilisi, p. 175).

Kara-Darvish is also the subject of a forthcoming study by James R. Russell, who notes that Kara-Darvish's "novel Keank‘i utak (“The Violin of Life”) ... attracted no attention (perhaps not surprising, considering recent events, including a world war, two revolutions in Russia, and the Armenian Genocide two years before the latter). It deals with a lonely, middle-aged Armenian broken by family bereavement and leading a weary life, whose spirits and neglected, decrepit body revive when he meets a beautiful Russian woman. Free love was very much a part of the Futurist program; but Beledian is probably right in his assertion that the Armenian writer here was inspired more by Mikhail Artsybashev’s softly pornographic novel Sanin (1907)— the Fanny Hill or Lady Chatterley’s Lover of its day" (Russell, "The Black Dervish of Armenian Futurism," p. 12).

The rear wrapper features Kara-Darvish's address in Tbilisi: Voznesenskaia 45.

Not found in KVK, OCLC.

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