Archeology of Madness: Komitas, Portrait of an Armenian Icon, (Second Edition)

Archeology of Madness: Komitas, Portrait of an Armenian Icon, (Second Edition)

London: Gomidas Institute, 2010,
xii + 238 pp., map, illustrations,
ISBN 1-903656-10-9, paperback,
UK£17.00 / US$25.00
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"A captivating journey." --The Gazette (Montreal)
"A pioneering achievement." --Vahé Oshagan
"A unique and fascinating book, both in terms of Komitas’s biography . . . and also the emergence of a clear, new, diagnostic category of PTSD psychosis." --Dr D. Turkington, Senior Lecturer and Consultant Psychiatrist
"Original. . . . It brings to relief the psychiatric dimension of the toll of the Armenian Genocide." --Vahakn N. Dadrian
"A thoughtful and enlightening book. . . . A fascinating history of a psychiatric illness." -- Joel Paris, M.D., F R C P. (C), Chair, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University
"Komitas’s relationship with Margaret is both fascinating and movingly told." --Jirair Libaridian, Ph.D.

The most popular Armenian classical composer of his time, Komitas (1869–1935) is still on every concert program of classical Armenian music. Komitas’s creative work was cut short by the Armenian Genocide of 1915–16. After surviving a death camp, Komitas developed a severe form of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and spent twenty years in virtual silence in mental asylums.

In this thoughtful biography, Rita Kuyumjian examines three seldom-addressed aspects of the composer’s life: his relationship with an Armenian singer, Margaret Babayan; his mental illness; and his relationship with the Armenian church.

In this gently flowing narrative, based on extensive archival research, the fragile sanity of Komitas’s mutilated soul comes to life, engulfing the reader in the tempest that once roared in the great Armenian composer’s afflicted mind.

Beside the elucidation of the complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, the author’s meticulous exploration of Komitas’s private life, love, fears, and demons paints a picture of a delicate creativity trapped in a painful solitude.

About the Author
Rita Kuyumjian M.D. F.R.C.P.(C) is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at McGill University in Montreal. She is the director of the Outpatient Psychiatry Department at St. Mary’s Hospital. [2002]

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