Diaspora Literary World Loses Vahe Oshagan

One of the most influential figures in the Armenian Diasporan literary world–Vahe Oshagan–passed away Friday in Philadelphia following a battle with heart disease. He was 78.

An active and dedicated member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation–Oshagan was a singular figure in the Armenian reality–who through his unique approaches to national issues became one of the most revered intellectuals of the 20th century.

The son of one of the most famous literary figures and Armenian leaders Hagop Oshagan–Vahe also chose the literary arena as a profession–and after receiving his education in renowned universities–he instilled the characteristic of Western thought into modern Armenian literature.

Throughout his life–Oshagan published poetry–essays–short stories–novels and plays–and was known as a literary critic and a commentator. After relocating to the US from Lebanon he had a regular column in the Weekend Edition of Asbarez entitled Literary Chronicle "Kragan Chronique" for 15 years. Oshagan was also a member of the Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Association–which–in 1994 organized a celebration of Oshagan’s 50-year literary career in various Armenian communities in the Diaspora and Armenia.

Oshagan was born in Plovdiv–Bulgaria in 1922. From 1924 to 1926 He and his family lived in Egypt–following which they moved to Cyprus–where Oshagan attended the Melkonian School until 1933–under the tutelage of his father Hagop.

In 1943–Oshagan joined the ran’s of the ARF and in 1944 he published his first short story "Birader Hagop" in the Cairo-based Housaper newspaper.

In 1946 he enrolled in Paris’ Sorbone University–from where he graduated in 1951. He received a doctoral degree from the University of Paris in comparative literature–presenting his thesis in foreign influences on Western Armenian literature from 1850 to 1935.

In 1952 he moved to Lebanon where he taught at various institutions–among them the Seminary at the Catholicosate of the Holy See of Cilicia in Antelias–the Maronite Seminary in Beirut–Haigazian College–Lycee Francais–College Patriarcal–Makassed College–International College–Beirut University College–the American University in Beirut–as well as the Hamazkayin Armenian Studies Institution.

Oshagan and his family moved to the United States in 1975–settling in Philadelphia and later in San Francisco. Oshagan was an Armenian studies professor at the University of Pennsylvania and University of California in Berkeley. He was the editor of the Raft English-language literary journal and served on the editorial board of the Armenian Review. He was a columnist for Asbarez and has written in numerous American literary journals about Armenian culture and literature.

In 1992 he moved to Sydney–Australia and lived there until 1994. During this time–Oshagan was a guest lecturer at the State University of Karabakh in Stepanakert.

Oshagan had been residing in Philadelphia for the past several years.

He is survived by his wife Arsineh (Rustigian); two sons Haig and Ara from a previous marriage to Emma Papazian; and several grandchildren.

A national funeral is planned at the St. Gregory the Illuminator Church–Philadelphia on Wednesday at 1 p.m.

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