One of the breakthroughs at the conference

During the conference devoted to the 200th anniversary of the Mekhitarist Congregation in Vienna, cultural journalist, Austrian radio employee Barbara Densher presented her new book that was released by Amaras publishing house.

The book entitled “Bridge between the Cultures of the East and the West”, which has been released in Armenian and German, is the unique continuation of the series of studies by the Armenologist that has popular science articles and studies. The book also serves as a new “window” that looks toward Armenology and the Mekhitarists. The author of the book’s preface, recipient of the RA State Prize Robert Mirzoyan gives an interesting assignment when he says: “This book is another expression of the traditional good will toward Armenia and the Armenian people, better yet, great love. That is the case. It was only love that made it possible for the author, Austrian journalist Barbara Densher to establish close ties with Armenia for the past 11 years, and that will be the case for many, many years to come.”

For the topic of her study, Barbara Densher selected the printing house of the Mekhitarist Congregation and its history. She divided the study into several chapters, including “From Constantinople to Vienna”, “Creation of the Printing House”, “Long-Term Orders”, “Printing Center for Foreign Languages”, “Retail Sale of Books by the Publishing House”, “Costly Construction”, “1848: Year of Revolution”, “Paper Money, School Textbooks and Magazines”, “Armenian National Matenadaran”, “Everything Was Being Released”. The titles themselves show how inclusive, focused and transparent the material is. Apparently, Barbara Densher is the first one to study the history of the printing house of the Mekhitarist Congregation. Thus, the “Creation of the Printing House” chapter is of historiographical, cognitive and documental value, and it also portrays the Mekhitarists’ respect toward printing. Interestingly, the author presents the service of Franz I and his contribution to the publishing of the Mekhitarists, placing importance on the fact that it was exactly this king that allowed the Congregation to publish books in Armenian. The author has studied several documents, has particularly cited a message from the police certifying that the Mekhitarists would be publishing works in German, Latin, Armenian, as well as Eastern and Western languages. By saying Eastern and Western languages, the managers of the time also meant Arabic, Persian, English and French. In the late 20th century and early 21st century, the printing house of the Mekhitarists had turned into a large publishing center and was the place where the studies conducted by the Mekhitarist Congregation in Venice were published. In addition, recently Rayner Maria Rilke’s book entitled “Duin Elegies” was published in Georgian at the printing house of the Mekhitarist Congregation in Vienna.

Barbara Densher’s book is an important contribution to Armenology and may serve as an impetus for new research. At the end of the conference, Director of the Institute of History of the National Academy of Sciences, NAS correspondent-member Ashot Melkonyan placed importance on the role of the conference and mentioned that there were many breakthroughs and that one of them was Barbara Densher’s booklet.

Levon Mutafyan

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