Reviews

The editor, a professor of philology at the State University of Tajikistan (Dushanbe), proposes a “scientific and critical edition (matni ilmiiu intiqodi)” of the “Green Notebook”, a collection of personal verses established during his lifetime by a divine, mystic and poet from Kulab, Mirza Sami‘ Adinazada “Khatlani” (1907[?]-95) whose life and work has been discovered by Tajikistani media in the early 1990s.  The texts are preceded by a long biography (pp. 6-163) based on a number of early post-Soviet press releases, and on oral testimonies by Mirza Sami‘’s disciples and close relations (among whom the musician ‘Umar Timur).  Most of these writings and testimonies, however, concern the last period of Mirza Sami‘’s life, during Perestroika and the very first years of Tajikistan’s independence.  Very few is said of the poet’s education in Bukhara, of his long exile in Afghanistan, of his deportation to Siberia and, above all, of his exact role in the underground literary circle (mahfil) of the “Clear Hearts (Rawshan-Dilan)” that used to gather in Kulab during the Khrushchev and early Brezhnev periods around the prominent local mystical poet Mirza Latif Rahim-zada (1902-67).  About the most recent period of Mirza Sami‘’s life, one is surprised by the lack of curiosity of most observers on the curious theological and political positioning of the poet—a former resident of the Gulag, then a disciple of the underground conservative theologian Mawlawi Hindustani (1892-1989), who after 1991 sided with local pro-Communist militias and their warlords against the leaders of the Party of the Islamic Revival (see pp. 368-9 a pathetic marthiyya devoted to the “Commandant” Langari Langariev).  In this matter one can only imagine the weight and impact of the local, often extremely violent community segmentations of the modern city and region of Kulab—segmentations with which Tajikistani memoirs writers do not seem very hurried do deal.

As to the texts edited in Cyrillic script, they are distributed according to their respective genres: (1) ghazals (pp. 166-220, among which can be found tributes to contemporary figures like Mulla Ghulam “Qawwal”, a member of the Rawshan-Dilan); (2) muthammaths (several of which based on ghazals by the poet from Ura-Teppa Jawhari Istrawshani [d. 1944]); (3) several musaddases referring to events of Tajikistan’s contemporary history (such as the violently repressed demonstrations of February 1990 in Dushanbe, the liberalisation of the Islamic cult, etc.); (4) some fifteen marthiyyas (two of them devoted to Mirza Latif Rahim-zada, one to the Tajik SSR’s poet laureate Mirza Tursunzada); last some pieces of mathnawi, qit‘a or qasida form, a little number of bilingual Tajik and Uzbek poems and some Uzbek verses.  The whole collection is enriched by numerous philological notes and by illustrations including portraits of the poet and of his folks.  It constitutes an invaluable source and a telling testimony of the state of religious culture and alternative sociability in Tajikistan during the last decades of the Soviet period.  In the expectation of a genuinely critical edition of Mirza Sami’s work, the texts that have been collected out of the latter’s album provide historians and historians of literature with extremely interesting elements on the complex relations between official culture and counter-culture, and on the weight of communal affiliations in Soviet Central Asia.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-6.2.B-545