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February 20, 2004


“Fresh Blood”: New journal hopes to (routinely) make foreign writers available in Armenian


The magazine will open pages that have been closed before because of language barrier

“Self-absorbed literature is rotting just like the self-absorbed idea,” says the editorial in Armenia 's new periodical, “Foreign Literature”.

With the purpose to stay away from rotten thoughts and self-absorbed literature, on January 25 the first issue of the journal was published with a brand new style and new ideas.

“In general Armenian literary life is bogged down and needs fresh blood. The journal is going to take the role of the fresh blood,” says the newly appointed editor-in-chief of “Foreign Literature” Samvel Mkrtchyan.

The journal and its online version www.artgrak.am give a chance for Armenian readers to get acquainted (in their native language) with such representatives of foreign literature as Donald Barthelme, Venedict Yerofeyev, John Tolkien, Ann Haverty, and William Faulkner. In the next issue there will be the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Paul Celan, Charles Bukowski and others, who until now have been a closed page for many people because of the language obstacle.

According to the editor they chose not only valuable works of famous writers which have never been translated into Armenian, but also works of contemporary writers which are considered to be the latest trend in modern literature.

“There are many big gaps in our literary sphere, the same faces are on TV, the same old literature and writers are in libraries,” says Mkrtchyan. “We can say that we only have a full translation of Shakespeare into Armenian and nothing else, and our main purpose is to introduce Armenian readers to prominent contemporary writers, who have been unavailable for many of them until now.”

This is actually the fourth effort over the past several years to bring the journal to life. Three issues sporadically appeared but never managed to come out regularly. Translations in those first issues were mostly done from Russian versions of the articles in their original language. The new editor (who is also a translator) says having a mediator language is unacceptable.

"The journal is going to take the role of the fresh blood," says Mkrtchyan

“We cooperate with the best translators and our purpose is also to gather the gifted ones around a single interesting work,” says Mkrtchyan. “The works are being translated from the original and these are the best translations done by the best specialists and evaluated by readers. A good translation is fresh blood, if we do a good translation of a good work it means some fresh blood is added to Armenian literature and if it's not so, then it gets bogged down. ”

According to Mkrtchyan even though it's been several days that the magazine has been published he already has letters and responses both from inside Armenia and from the Diaspora. The journal and its internet version have seven to eight sections, but the number is flexible and it can become more or less with each issue.

Plans are for the journal to appear as a quarterly this year and become a monthly next year. The Internet version, however, will be updated more often and offer a reader forum.

“There will be a lot of changes, however now we have to think that good translation is a great job which has to be paid well,” says Mkrtchyan.

The new issue of “Foreign Literature” was paid for by the Union of Writers. Mkrtchyan says sponsors may be needed to cover future translations cost.

We hope everything will go well and the new issue of the journal will be published in early March without a delay,” he said.


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