Reviews

Under a promising title, the author proposes a modest reassessment of the contributions by Russian Orientalist A. N. Samoilovich on the history of mediaeval and modern Turkic literature in Khiva and Tashkent, during Central Asian journeys undertaken between 1908 and 1916. Referring to previous inquiries by F. D. Ashnin (Tiurkologicheskii sbornik, Moscow, 1978) and Begali Qosimov (Izlai, izlai, topganim, Tashkent, 1984), the author recalls Samoilovich’ interest in Jadid literature, notably through his attendence of a representation of Jelil Memmedguluzade’s drama Öliklar in the Turkistan Theatre in Tashkent. The author also mentions the translation into Russian by Samoilovich of a poem published by ‘Ayni in 1913 in the Ayina of Samarqand, and the publication of this translation in the Turkestanskie vedomosti of July 3 [16] 1916.) As for the early Soviet period, the article published in 1919 by Samoilovich on “The Literatures of the Turkic Peoples” is credited with a pioneering assessment of Central Asian reformist and modernist literatures. Beside the “Memoirs” by Ahmad Zaki Walidi, Ashnin’s study again provides the framework for a recollection of Samoilivich’ activity as a representative of the People’s Commission for Foreign Affairs of the RSFSR in the Soviet People’s Republics of Bukhara and Khiva in 1921-22 (notably as a translator of ‘Ayni’s Persian-language “History of the Revolution of Bukhara,” and as a Soviet official with substantial contacts among the vernacular modernist and nationalist intelligentsia of the time). The last paragraphs briefly evoke Samoilovich’ activity as an intermediary and translator for Central Asian authors, especially in the journals Novyi Vostok and Zvezda Vostoka. In all, Sherali Turdiev’s study properly underlines the key role played by Russia’s figures of Oriental studies in the very shaping and diffusion of national literatures and ideologies in early Soviet Central Asia ― though it eludes the role that this activity was to play in the systematic elimination of these same figures during the Red Terror.

The Redaction
CER: II-1.2.B-45