Reviews

This book constitutes an important advance in the study of Central Asian epics. Devoted to the best known Karakalpak oral epic, this publication is based on a complete version of Edige (pp.179-282), preceded by nine chapters and followed by the translation of the text into English, with textual notes and a rich commentary. This edition is the first one that offers the complete English translation of a Karakalpak epic of importance, and is also a detailed analysis carried out on several levels, including historical, anthropological [ch. 1-6], poetic [ch.7-8] and musical [ch. 9]. There is additionally access to significant audio and video extracts of the epic by way of a CD-DVD offered with the book. The recordings made and presented here by K. Reichl (1986, 1993) represent the last vestiges of an epic that heralds back to the fifteenth century, the Noghay and the Golden Horde, and Jumabay Jyraw was the last bard able to perform it entirely. This alone illustrates the fact that the transmission of epics has declined during the course of the twentieth century among the Karakalpaks (where more than one hundred epics were referenced). Nevertheless, the analytical conclusions brought by the author, which seem valid in all Turkic Central Asia, constitute a precious contribution to the development of comparative studies of the oral traditions in the region.

Frédéric Léotar, University of Montreal
CER: II-5.3.A-467