Reviews

Through the gestation and evolution of the literary genres of dastan (epics), bayt (epic and lyric poems), and munajat (sung poems of religious and/or gnostic content) in Tatar-language literature and oral tradition, the author sheds light on the transformation process of literary models imported in the course of centuries from the major centres of the world of Islam, notably from Persian semi-popular epics through the case of oral dastans like Buz yeget [The Uncorrupted Youth], written in 1842 in Ufa by Bakhawi on the basis of a Persian lyrical tale in prose, or the more ancient Sayf al-Muluk translated from Persian to Chaghatay Turkic by poet Majlisi in the sixteenth century, and published for the first time in Kazan in 1807. In these works, the author remarks the varied imprints of Islamic culture, from place names referring to legendary figures of the initial conversion to Islam to the conveying of the norms of adab. As far as bayts are concerned, the author briefly mentions the early Shahar-i Bulghar baytlari [Bayts of the City of Bulghar] and Qazan ta’rikhi [Chronicle of Kazan] on the tragic events of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, mentioning notably the numbers of scholars of Islam and Sufis (murid murshid kup idi, zamani kup irdiyya / ‘alimnari dust idi, murshidlari khas idi) in early mediaeval Bulghar. The genre of the munajat is shortly and superficially evoked through its evident borrowings from Sufi culture and literature. As such, the article brings numerous interesting elements to our knowledge of the resonance of Islam and Islamic or Islamised culture in Tatar literature. At the same time, a lot of elements provided by the author, many of which borrowed from recent editions or re-editions, are not precisely identified nor dated. As to the author’s superficial considerations on the history of varied literary genres, the munajat especially, they totally ignore the mass of international literature on the subject.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: II-5.3.A-461