Reviews

This work is devoted to the Karakalpak version of the epics (dastan) of Alpamys, a Central Asian hero also present in the Surkhan Darya and Qashqa Darya regions of Uzbekistan, as well as in Tajikistan and even among the Altais, the Tatars and the Bashkirs, in more or less developed forms.  The book, written in Karakalpak language, is made up of eight versions of the epic of Alpamys which were collected between the 1930s and the 1960s, and half of which had never been published.  The oldest version was sung by the Karakalpak bard (ziraw) Ziyomurat Bekmuhamedov and published in 1901 by the famous ethnographer Divaev, under the erroneous title “Kazakh epics”.  The overall aim of this publication is to reconstruct original epics and epics inaccessible until a recent past.  Indeed, the publication of manuscripts in the Soviet period led many terms and passages to be re-interpreted, or just removed.  This was the case for the longest version of the epics of Alpamys in this publication, made up of eighteen thousand stanzas and recorded in 1957 from bard Esemurat Nyrabyllaev.  A. I. Al’niiazov, a linguist at the Academy of Sciences in Nukus, has carried out meticulous work, finding the sections of sentences which had been crossed out in manuscript versions.  The name of Alpamys is not explicitly referred to in the title of the publication because the latter is part of a wider editorial project of publication, in one hundred volumes, of the whole literary collection of the archives of the Academy of Sciences in Nukus (including many other epics, among which Edige, Kyryk Kyz, Koblan, and Sharyar).

Frédéric Léotar, University of Alberta
CER: I-6.3.B-569