THE DAREDEVILS OF SASUN APPEAR IN LONDON, ENGLAND Armenian News Network / Groong October 20, 2008 By Eddie Arnavoudian LONDON, UK `Daredevils of Sasun: Poetics of an epic' (263pp, 2008, Mazda, translated into English by Peter Cowe) is a timely and erudite study of the Armenian epic born of the 7/8th century resistance to Arab occupation. On Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 October its English edition was launched first in London and then in Oxford by its author Professor Azat Yeghiazaryan Director of the Manuk Abeghyan Institute of Literature of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia. With reference to European, Russian and Eastern epics Azat Yeghiazaryan set an international context for appreciating the singularity of the Armenian epic. A tale of solidarity, patriotism, courage and honour `Daredevils of Sasun' was, uniquely, created, developed and preserved as an oral tale and survived for a thousand years with no connection to official Armenian literature. It was written down only in the 19th century. In this aspect `Daredevils of Sasun' is a genuine people's epic, a reality evident the epic's history, its art, democratic sensibility and its moral compass. The Daredevils of Sasun are like the heroes of other epics are indeed kings, princes and knights. But they are so only formally. Their palaces are cottages little different from those of the common people. They live their daily lives among the people. They are extraordinary individuals but they are simultaneously from and of the common people. They do not regard themselves different from or opposed to the common people and they put their extraordinarytalents to the collective interest, primarily the battle against foreign oppression. In their epic fights for freedom there is no glorification of violence that one finds elsewhere. They slay, but only in self defence and readily spare ordinary Arab soldiers sent to war against their will. Discussing these and numerous other ways in which the `Daredevils of Sasun' differs from other international epics, Azat Yeghiazaryan revealed how this epic preserves a mode of human existence which has a great deal to say to us today. To obtain copies please contact Abril Bookstore (http://www.abrilbooks.com/) in the USA or the Armenian Institute in London (http://www.armenianinstitute.org.uk/). -- Eddie Arnavoudian holds degrees in history and politics from Manchester, England, and is Groong's commentator-in-residence on Armenian literature. His works on literary and political issues have also appeared in Harach in Paris, Nairi in Beirut and Open Letter in Los Angeles.
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