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Armenian Genocide according to Armen Melikian: the quest for a new ethos of survival

In Journey to Virginland, his debut novel, Armen Melikian proposes an eminently exuberant antidote to the victim mentality with which the Armenian mindset has traditionally parsed the Armenian Genocide.

Committed between 1915 and 1923 by the Ottoman government, the Armenian Genocide was the 20th century’s first instance of mass-scale ethnic cleansing.

Taking advantage of the onset of World War I, when the Western powers were preoccupied with the conflict, the Ottoman government meticulously planned and implemented the Genocide, almost entirely decimating the Armenian population of Turkey. More than 1.5 million perished as a result of massacres, starvation, and disease.

This led to the formation of the modern Armenian diaspora. While the Armenian Genocide physically devastated the Armenian nation, its psychological and cultural scars were as profound and would go on to affect and even define the lives of the survivors and subsequent generations alike.

Few Armenian thinkers since the Genocide have been successful in formulating, let alone popularizing, an alternate ethos of survival that, while keeping the memory of the Armenian Genocide alive, would transcend it in favor of a position of dynamic cultural – hence political – renewal. Today  it still has the effect of paralyzing the creative energies of the Armenian diaspora, keeping them suspended in an ideology of “paradise postponed” and cultural preservation versus cultural re-creation.

Armen Melikian’s Journey to Virginland utterly debunks this supposedly unshakable orthodoxy. In a buoyantly life-affirming approach, Melikian fully recognizes the Armenian Genocide for the catastrophe that it is, yet proposes a new way of seeing that would liberate the Armenian mindset from the clutches of the past, efface the politics of self-pity and fatalism, and ultimately tip the balance on the side of unfettered creativity and participation in the life of the world.

Interested in learning more about the Armenian Genocide? Get your copy of Journey to Virginland today!