The Fool (novel)

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The Fool
The Fool (Raffi novel).jpg
Original titleԽենթը / Khenté
Publication date
Media typePrint

The Fool (Խենթը, Khenté, Armenian pronunciation: [χɛntʰə]) is an 1880 Armenian language novel by the novelist Raffi, one of the best-known novels of one of Armenia's most popular writers.[1] Based on an episode from the 1877 Russo-Turkish war, the plot tells a romance set against the background of the divided Armenian nation.

The novel has been translated into English twice; by Jane S. Wingate (Boston, 1950) and Donald Abcarian (Princeton, 2000).[2] It was translated into French as Le fou : Conséquences tragiques de la guerre russo-turque de 1877-1878 en Arménie in 2009 by Mooshegh Abrahamian.

Setting and structure[edit]

The novel is set in three districts near the border between Russia and Turkey: Bayazid (Doğubeyazıt), Alashgert (Eleşkirt), and Vagharshapat [Etchmiadzin]. The opening and concluding chapters are set in the time of the last Russo-Turkish War (1877-78), whereas the central story unfolds in an earlier period.

The novel opens with four fast-paced chapters describing the Turkish siege of Bayazid, an historic episode from the last Russo-Turkish war. [3] After a harrowing depiction of the battle, its outcome is left in suspense as chapter five suddenly shifts the focus to an earlier time to tell the story of a peasant household in Alashgert and a romance caught in the treacherous sociopolitical crosscurrents of the late Ottoman order. The succeeding twenty-nine chapters present a rich ethnographic account of peasant life in Western Armenia, while depicting the ideological themes that dominated Armenian life at the time through a set of powerful, competing actors. With chapter thirty-four, the story line returns to the time of the Russo-Turkish War to complete the narrative with which the novel began and the story reaches its conclusion ten chapters later in Vagharshapat [Etchmiadzin].


  1. ^ Ronald Grigor Suny - They Can Live in the Desert but Nowhere Else : A History of the Armenian Genocide - 1400865581 2015 Page 76 "The novels of Raffi, particularly Khent (The Fool) published in 1880, had their loyal readers both in [...]"
  2. ^ Omer Bartov, Eric D. Weitz - Shatterzone of Empires: Coexistence and Violence in the ... 0253006317-2013 Page 189 'See for example “Vartan's dream” in Raffi's best-selling novel Khente [The Fool]. English translation: Raffi, The Fool, trans. Donald Abcarian (Princeton: Gomidas Institute, 2000), 206–217, esp. 210–11. 62.'
  3. ^ Report on the Russian army and its campaigns in Turkey in 1877-1878 by F. V. Greene, D. Appleton & Company, New York, 1879,;view=1up;seq=411 p. 385