Nationalism and the Internal Enemy in Raffi's The Fool


Anahid Yahjian

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In 1881, Persian-Armenian author Raffi published The Fool , a historical novelization of a journalistic venture to chronicle the last Russo-Turkish war. Originally written in the eastern dialect of Armenian, The Fool uses this historical moment--in which the Christian Armenian minority of the Ottoman empire was forced to choose between a loyalty to the Ottomans or Russians for the sake of survival--to construct an argument for the necessity of an independent Armenian nation. Raffi introduces the modern nationalist concept into the Armenian consciousness by juxtaposing the subservient mentalities of the traditional Ottoman Armenians to that of "The Fool," an educated young man from Constantinople who predicts the extermination of the Armenian people by its six-century-old Ottoman government. Raffi's work went on to inspire the Armenian revolutionary movement, which contributed greatly to the establishment of the first Armenian republic in 1918. Since its publication, however, The Fool has been regarded mainly as a revolutionary text and therefore scarcely approached critically. My research this summer has focused on a close reading of German theorist Carl Schmitt's "The Concept of the Political" and its postulations about friend, enemy and--most dangerous of all--the internal enemy, all of which both complicate and are complicated by The Fool .


Warren Montag




Mary S. Caswell Summer Research Fellowship

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