Ler Gamsar: Hamazkayin Book Lovers Club Forum (Canada)
"I do not have any information of me, ask the Soviet authorities."
Ler Gamsar is an unusual name. The great satirist, born in Van, once wrote about his name, ″I would definitely be a "Ler" (mountain) to be able to overcome all howling winds and storms in my life. If I weren’t a "Ler" I wouldn’t be able to survive. Glory to the name, which saved me from harms."
Gamsar’s witty writings take you to the world of satire, which you do not want to leave. Thought generating, human, political and national themes of his writings, written in witty and bold style and full of endless lines of satire, always enlighten its reader.
One of the Toronto Community’s well-known young members Nairi Tilimian is such a reader. The next traditional Forum of Book Lovers Club, which took place in Toronto Armenian Community on Wednesday, March 8, was dedicated to Ler Gamsar (1888-1965). "This is the seventh season of our Club," said Literary Committee member Arda Der Hagopian delivering the opening speech of the Forum. She briefly spoke about the importance of forums aimed to lay a bridge between Armenian literature and Armenian young generation. Some of the attendees were well-aware of Ler Gamsar’s literary works, but unfortunately, many of the participants had hardly heard his name. Arda Der Hagopian briefly presented the key speaker Nairi Tilimian. Raised in Toronto, Nairi attended ARS Daily School and then got university education. Later, he got a degree of Bachelor of Accountancy. Carrently, Nairi is an active member of ARS Rupina and Gladzor Chapters of Hamazkayin. He is a fresh member of Hamazkayin Book Lovers Club.
Using slides, presenting the significant periods of Ler Gamsar’s life and reading excerpts from his creations, Nairi successfully piqued the interest of the audience.
Aram Tovmaghian (registered as Tovmassian by mistake) was born in October 1888, in a priest's family. When participating in Van-Aygestan self-defense battles he changed back to his real name Aram Tovmaghian. In 1910, he returned to his birthplace after graduating from Gevorgyan Seminary in Etchmiadzin and started his teaching career and writing. Ler Gamsar’s life and literature are so interwoven with each other, that when we read his writings, we automatically get aware of his life, starting from Van to Yerevan and again Van, exile, Transcaucasia, Soviet Armenia, Tabriz, Yerevan and then to jail ... and again to jail where his pen never stopped writing.
Nairi invited to speak the Club member Armine Torikian. In a unique style, she read the National Anthem, after which the audience watched Ler Gamsar’s granddaughter Vanuhi Thomassian’s interview on the screen. It warmed the atmosphere in the hall and established a connection between the past and the present.
Nairi Tilimian’s research and thoroughly prepared presentation was highly appreciated by the audience. Of course this was not the only forum dedicated to Ler Gamsar’s literature. It is not possible to present a writer like Ler Gamsar, who continuously created so many masterpieces in his lifetime, in one forum. The best way to understand him is to read his works. Gamsar left behind numerous of books such as Prison Diary, National Primer, Old Armenian People, Extremely Communists, Disgrace, Shameful World, Works, Sahara of Socialism, Invalid Dead, and Heavy Communism etc., as well as numerous of unpublished works.
We share with you some samples of his sayings (Source Vanuhi Tovmasyan "Red Days" book preface, Yerevan, Nairi, 2000.
"Up to now I have been definitely unaware and had some doubts whether my literary works were of any value, or not.
Today I can announce that I am a great writer, and my literary earnings will stay in the Armenian literature as gold fund, because the Bolshevik government of Armenia, through critic V.Amirbegian, announced my works as harmful, and officially threw them into the "shoemaker’s waste basket". Thanks to God, that I got rid of my doubts, and now I feel myself a pure writer."
When in the last days of his life, his book The Man in Home Cloths was taken into custody, he said to his family, "I ask you to bury me my face down to the ground so that I would not see the face of this government. I ensure you that whenever this regime changes I will turn on my back even if I am completely rotten. "
Tamar Donabedian Kuzuian