Translated by Beyon Miloyan and Kimberley McFarlane
Harem is the first novella of prolific 19th century Armenian writer, Hakob Melik Hakobian, better known as Raffi. First published in 1874 in the Armenian language, Harem is based loosely on events following the Battle of Krtsanisi in Tbilisi in 1795, along with Raffi’s own experiences living in Iran. The narrative evocatively brings to life events at once sensual, dark, and conspiratorial in and around the Royal Palace of the Crown Prince of Persia, where the most interesting things happen at night.
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Hakob Melik Hakobian, better known as Raffi, was born in the Persian village of Payajuk in 1835 to a family of wealthy merchants. He was educated in Tbilisi, before he took over the family textile business. Thereafter, he taught and travelled extensively throughout Armenia, Transcaucasia, and eastern Anatolia (historical Armenia), and dedicated his life to writing. Raffi is among Armenia's literary treasures. He wrote over a dozen novels, short stories and poems, and pioneered the Armenian historical novel.
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