By Jirair Tutunjian, Toronto, January 2022
One of the hottest British novels of the Twenties and the Thirties was Michael Arlen’s “The Green Hat”. Arlen’s real name was Dikran Kouyoumdjian. Although an immigrant, the 27-year-old Armenian knew the British class system, the lifestyle of the elite, their proclivities, and their slang better than most observers of the British upper crust.
“The Green Hat” popularity was not confined to the public. Famous writers admitted being influenced by the novel. Ernest Hemingway said F. Scott Fitzgerald knew the plots of every one of Arlen’s novels. Fitzgerald had told Hemingway to watch Arlen because he could learn much from him. In “Decline and Fall”, Evelyn Waugh wrote “all Mayfair seemed to throb with the heart of Mr. Arlen.”
The heroine of “The Green Hat” was Iris March. She was based on socialite Nancy Cunard who died destitute 40 years after the publication of the novel.
Anastas Mikoyan, Kremlin’s number-two man, made his second trip to the United States on Jan. 4, 1959. In addition to meeting politicians, he chatted with waitresses, stopped at a bookstore, traipsed through Macy’s, lunched with Wall Street bankers, delivered a speech to union leaders, talked to furniture salesmen, toured a Hollywood studio, kissed Jerry Lewis on both cheeks and chatted with Sophia Loren. Everywhere he talked peace and drew vigorous applause. “We are all tired of the Cold War and would very much like to have a hot peace”, he told 1,100 businessmen at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria.
The “New York Times” commended Mikoyan’s “outstanding gift of public relations” and referred to Mikoyan’s “blunt words, crackling wit, and unfailing good humor.”
At the Twentieth Party Congress (1956), Mikoyan stood and delivered the first anti-Stalin speech, opening the road for Khrushchev to catalogue Stalin’s crimes.
Patrick Leigh Fermor, arguably 20th century’s best English travel writer, described in “The Broken Road” the people (Pomaks, White Russians, Sephardic Jews and Armenian merchants) he had met in the Balkans in 1934. He described the Armenian merchants with the following words: “…their eyes bright with acumen on either side of their wonderful noses like confabulating toucans.”
As head of the Russian government, Count Mikhail Loris-Melikov (1825-1888) might have provided a viable alternative to the fluctuations between conservative and radical extremes that racked Russia throughout its history. Unfortunately, Tsar Alexander III rejected the Armenian soldier-politician’s reforms and maintained a repressive policy which was continued by his successor Nicholas II. Those repressive policies led to revolution in 1917.
In 591 Armenia was partitioned by Emperor Maurice of Byzantium. Persia took 40 percent while Byzantium took 60 percent. To create a no man’s land between Byzantium and Persia, Maurice depopulated the frontier area by transporting 10,000 Armenians to Cyprus, 12,000 to Macedonia, 8,000 to Pergamus and 10,000 to Thrace.
In 1189, Frederick, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, joined the Third Crusade. However, before reaching the Holy Land, the emperor known as Barbarossa drowned in June 1190 while crossing the Saleph River in Armenian Cilicia.