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Criticism as War: The Ideological Battlefield of Uzbek Literary Studies from the 1950s to the 1990s

Zulkhumor Mirzaeva
p. 267-291


La critique comme pratique de guerre. Le champ de bataille idéologique des études littéraires ouzbèkes des années 1950 jusqu’aux années 1990

Des années 1950 aux années 1990, la critique littéraire ouzbèke ne put échapper à l’emprise de l’idéologie soviétique. Au regard des positions de l’Europe et des États-Unis, fondées sur la défense de leurs intérêts, la question de la littérature ouzbèke attira d’abord l’attention des occidentaux pour des raisons politiques. Puisque la guerre froide incita les intellectuels des deux camps à soutenir leur régime respectif, les recherches et écrits qui portèrent sur la littérature ouzbèke participèrent du combat idéologique, ce qui ne fut pas sans affecter grandement leur objectivité. Dans cet article, l’auteur essaie de déterminer la véritable nature de ce processus idéologique, d’analyser ses composantes subjectives et objectives, et de rendre manifestes certains éléments d’une vérité qui a été niée au sein des frontières de l’empire Rouge.

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1Twentieth-century Uzbek literature strengthened the socio-political as well as the ideological struggle’s discourse in the public arena and took an important place in determining the nation’s fate with a literary expression of national revival. For instance, the regime of the Czarist Empire and the many changes happening within social strata pulled literary works into a whirlpool of political concerns. The expression of great ideas in national literature of the 1950s to the 1990s such as freedom from the inequality of colonial systems and the attainment of independence did not abate even after Soviet Union had completely established control in the territory. Literary works which articulated such ideas have been studied not only by Uzbek but also by foreign scholars such as American (Edward Allworth, David Montgomery, Robert Barrett), British (Geoffrey Wheeler, Olaf Caroe), German (Jürgen Paul, Sigrid Kleinmichel, Ingeborg Baldauf), French (Stéphane Dudoignon), Japanese (Hisao Komatsu), Italian (Alessio Bombaci, Ettore Rossi) and Turkish (Ahmad Zaki Validi Togan, Çağatay Kuchar).

2However, in the Soviet period, Uzbek literary pieces were studied only in light of their ideological potential. The interpretative work done in lite-rary studies was considered to be of governmental importance. As a result, the process of finding ‘political opposition’ in literature divided Western and Soviet scholars, translators, writers and columnists into the camps of ‘Sovietologists’ (sovietshunoslar) and ‘Foreignologists’ (xorijshunoslar). In fact, during the 1960s-1980s a special group consisting of Uzbek scholars named Foreignologists was formed following a central Soviet government’s order. Their main mission was to fight against foreign scholars’ thought on Uzbek literature and destroy their anti-Soviet socio-political movement. Actually, Uzbek researchers working on foreign scholars (so-called Sovietologists) turned the latter into ‘ideological enemies’ since they opposed the political process of the Soviet period. Literature clearly became one focal point of the ideological struggle between East and West.

  • 1 In Turkestan at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century, the Jadid movemen (...)

3It should be noted that the study of Uzbek literature had a strong basis in the cultural and political aims of each side. The main reason for foreign scholars’ interest in national literatures was the politics of the cold war between the former ussr and the West. Local intellectuals and foreign scholars tried to protect the interests of their two opposing regimes. Both sides, in some sense, tried to find ‘malleable spots’ within the lite-rary history of their opponent. Western scholars made frequent attempts to find writers and works of literature which opposed the Soviet regime, and they were able to conduct research and publish articles on subjects, which Uzbek scholars could not touch under the Red Empire. Monographs, books, articles, and essays on Oriental studies, Turkish studies, Islamic studies and the literature of the Jadid period1 were produced by Edward Allworth (United States), Ahmad Zaki Validi Togan (Turkey), Hisao Komatsu (Japan), Ingeborg Baldauf (Germany) and other scholars whose names are not yet known among Uzbek readers such as H.B. Paksoy, W.L. Hanaway, or A. Bennigsen. In the cold war period, only American institutions, research centres and societies focusing on Central Asia made significant contributions in examining problems of historical and modern literature. Universities such as Princeton, Harvard, Columbia, Indiana, Washington (Seattle), Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Los Angeles and centres like the Centre for Russian Studies, the Institute of Eastern Europe, the American Council of Scientific Societies, etc. have studied, from a cultural and political stance, the languages, literatures and ethnography of non-Slavic peoples such as Uzbeks, Azerbaijanis, Kazakhs, Turkmens, Kyrgyz, Yakuts, Tatars, Chuvash, Buryats, Bashkirs and other groups who lived in the territory of the former Soviet Union.

4The main point, though, should not be the number of research centres and the amount of funds allocated to these studies, but rather the significance of contributions made to the development of Oriental and Turkic studies. Until the 1990s the influence of politics on literary studies continuously made its presence felt. It was difficult to approach scientific truth under the pressure of politically limited methodologies and theories. For this reason, Uzbek intellectuals who wrote on foreign subjects in the 1950s-1990s tried to conform their work to Party and government resolutions and directives, and to the opinions of scholars who came from Russian universities and lived in Uzbekistan. They felt it necessary to describe the essence of all problems in the light of Soviet ideology. On the other hand, the emergence of pluralistic thoughts after the 1990s opened the way for drastic changes in the Uzbek scientific community. Therefore, it is essential to study the relations of Uzbek scholars with their foreign colleagues, dividing their work into three major periods:

  1. the Soviet period from the 1950s to the 1970s: new beginning and developing ideological pressure;

  2. the Soviet period from the 1980s to the 1990s: decreasing ideological pressure in the perestroika;

  3. the period of independence, which is characterised by the formation and development of a free mental outlook and pluralistic thought.

  • 2 I am intending to research on the period of independence in my future investigations.

5The aim of the present article is to study the relations of Uzbek scholars with their foreign colleagues in the two Soviet periods (1950s-1990s). I assume that these two periods should be observed as a whole since they are drawing on a common essence and would remain unchanged. The independence period is not included in this article, which focuses on the analysis of ‘foreign studies’ before the collapse of the Soviet Union.2 It is essential to commence the investigation with an analysis of the history of literature.

Natan Mallaev: a Typical Uzbek Scholars of the 1950s-1960s

6Natan M. Mallaev was an Uzbek Foreignologist, who conducted a wide range of researches on the history of literature and foreign studies. He mainly explored the works of Russian scholars who studied classical Uzbek literature, but he also commented on the achievements of Western orientalists in their study of classical Uzbek literature, acknowledging the achievements of French and Russian scholars such as Etienne Marc Quatremère and Mikhail Nikitinskij in collecting materials of classical literature, editing bibliographies, conducting textual studies and publishing works. Mallaev was however not satisfied with two elements in those studies. First, he considered the scope and extent of the collection, i.e. the number of scientific studies and publications of Uzbek classical literature, to be very small. The manual O‘zbek adabiyoti tarixi [History of Uzbek Literature] is the result of the enthusiasm and dedicated work of Mallaev, and served for several generations of literature critics and teachers as the main textbook for the history of Uzbek literature in Uzbekistan’s universities. It was first published in 1962, and republished in 1963, 1965 and 1976. Secondly, some insufficiencies of the manual have been discovered year after year. The author, as the representative of that period, had to take a conventional Soviet position on the issues of Western Oriental studies and to follow the literature policy of the period. Mallaev perceived Western orientalists as representatives of a “reactionary bourgeois” camp and approached this issue negatively (Mallaev, 1976, p. 10). Undoubtedly his decision was politically motivated. The scholar wrote:

Talking about the fifteenth-century literature of peoples of Central Asia, Gibb acknowledged in his work History of Turkic poetry that all the spirit of that literature consisted of the mysticism of tasavvuf [Sufism]. M. Belin, E. Browne and others identify Uzbek literature as a “fruit of Iranian literature;” to “Iranian literature”, besides the literature of Iranian people. They also add all the literature created by different nations in the Farsi-Tajik language. According to them, the great Uzbek poet and thinker ‘Alī Shīr Nawā’ī, who played an important role in the development of the literature of the peoples of the Far and Middle East, was a “translator of Iranian literature.” In the past such mistakes were made by some Russian orientalists […] and bourgeois nationalists also try to falsify the history of Uzbek literature. They underestimate such great poets as Nawā’ī, Muqīmī and Furqat, and try to praise mystic writers such as Aḥmad Yassawī and Sulaymān Baqirghānī.

7Natan Mallaev knew well that Central Asia’s fifteenth-century literature was heavily influenced by mysticism of tasawwuf [Sufism in Uzbek]. He understood that belief in supernatural forces, contact of the person with his creator, and revelation-prophecies are of concern to all religious-philosophical studies (Brahmanism, Islam, the Pythagoreans, Plato and the Neo-Platonists, Neo-Scholasticism, Personalism, Existentialism, Slavophilism). But he did not openly recognise that human knowledge could be based on mystic intuition and spiritual experiences, because such an approach could be considered as a recognition of God and his history would risk bearing a spiritual basis. Such a misstep could be viewed as an inclination toward the “ideology of the reactionary class” (ibid., p. 27). When Mallaev published his work, any scholar referring to tasawwuf was threatened with the label of ‘religious-mystic thought.’ Considering God as a reality, accepting the universe as his reflection and supposing a main goal of the unification of the human spirit with the first origin was contrary to the requirements of materialistic methodology. Thus, criticizing the scholar Gibb’s History of Turkic Poetry or denying Aḥmad Yassawī or Sulaymān Baqirghānī was not accidental.

8On the other hand, Mallaev could address the literatures of the peoples of the Far and Middle East with a relative ideological liberty. His scholar-ship covers the literatures of Asia and Africa. In the twentieth century those territories observed the fall of colonial regimes and the increase of national liberation movements. Soviet oriental discourse allowed one to talk freely about the literature of peoples of Asia and Africa. Thus, in some parts of the manual, Mallaev discussed easily peoples of ancient Babylon and Sumer, India and Babur’s Mughal Empire, even about Hellenism and its mutual influence on the cultures of Central Asia. He correctly understood the cultural and political significance of the Great Silk Road.

9The scholar criticises preconceived tendencies like those of Belin and Browne as an underestimation of the spiritual cultures of peoples of the East and a denial of their significance. In fact, the essence of his attention to the subject of classical Uzbek literature was a devoted defence of not only its originality, but also, in some sense, the presence of national thoughts in its mystical-religious literature. Armed with the idea that each nation had its own consciousness and conception of freedom, Mallaev was able to disclose the Eurocentric viewpoints of Western scholars. He maintained that the history of Uzbek philosophical thought had a deep scientific and logical basis and stood against Gibbs and like-minded scholars who made biased and false observations regarding the heritage of ‘Alī Shīr Nawā’ī. He was able to acknowledge that: “in the past such mistakes were made by some Russian orientalists” (ibid., p. 10). In other words, criticizing the scholars Belin and Browne gave Mallaev the opportunity to deny the basis of one-sided approaches – approaches influenced by personal beliefs or feelings rather than based on facts. Natan Mallaev was a scholar who understood that those types of viewpoints were based on chauvinistic and racist theories about the peoples of Asia and struggled against them. But he was only able to express these views within the discourse dictated by the ruling ideology of the time.

Treatment of Russification and Nationalism by Sovietologists: the Distortion of Uzbek Experience in the Soviet Union

10Another point of conflict between Sovietologists and Foreignologists in the ideological struggle was the depiction of the politics of Russification (ruslashtirish) and Sovietisation (sovietlashtirish) in literary works – the novel, in particular. In 1961, American scholar G. Morris wrote the following in the magazine Survey:

  • 3 The American scholars’ quotes that I am using in this article are not their direct words. As it has (...)

Soviet literature in Central Asia was created artificially, because they didn’t have a tradition of realistic literature in the past, and that tradition will not even be implanted in Central Asia. The main goal of the Soviet leadership is to establish and publicise modern literary forms such as the novel, story and play; the main aim of this is to spread the Russian language.
(Quoted in Turdiev, 1991, pp. 259-272).

11According to the Sovietologist G. Morris, literature policy in the region was carried out only to achieve Russification. To a certain extent, he is not completely incorrect; it is no secret that under the ussr a policy of Russification was enacted in the Soviet republics. But G. Morris did not make this statement because of his concern for the fate of non-Russian literatures. Using ideological policy as a weapon, he directs the thrust of his argument at the Soviet leadership and its policy in the sphere of languages. For this reason, while defending an unscholarly idea, and knowing that each nation of the region – Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Tajiks, and Turkmens – had its own centuries-old literature with its own distinctive features, he considered regional literature as a single one. In conclusion, the literature of these nations “didn’t have realist traditions in the past and these traditions will not even be implanted in Central Asia” (ibid., p. 261). Indeed, in the literature of non-Russian nations one can find many varied features – both traditional and European – that predate Soviet literary policy. These include written and oral prosaic traditions, popular books, poems (heroic, lyrical) and memoirs. Besides, the Uzbek novel was improved by the experiments of M. Shermuhamedov, Khamza, and A. Qodiriy – obviously not Russians. Morris did not take these facts into consideration in analysing the Central Asian literature. In his contribution «Roman va burjua ‘sovetshunoslari’» [The Novel and the Bourgeois ‘Sovietologists’] (1991), the Uzbek scholar Sherali Turdiev gave his opinion on Morris’s article. While defending national literatures, Turdiev did not dare writing about the presence of chauvinistic goals within Soviet literary policy, but he correctly understood the essence of the problem and wrote that “he [Morris], without any foundation, presented nations which have different historical, literary, cultural and traditional, and language distinctiveness under the single name of Central Asian literature” (ibid., p. 260).

12Yet another example, Edward Allworth, researcher on the Far and Middle East at Colombia University, wrote in his book Uzbek Literary Politics, published in 1964: “Farsi, Turkish, French and English novels exerted far more influence on the new-founded Uzbek genres than Russian realistic prose and dramatic art ever did” (quoted in Turdiev, 1991). Even though this statement was not supported by sufficient historical facts and scientific sources but rather relied on commonplaces, it does have some bases in truth. Firstly, a new Uzbek realistic prose and dramatic art in European form was an actual outcome of the early twentieth century. Secondly, Tatar, Azerbaijani, Turkish, Arabic and Farsi literatures definitely played a role in the initial development of the abovementioned genres. These aspects of the issue were acknowledged several times in the observations of literary critics S. Husayn and S. Mirzaliev. But none of these Uzbek scholars denied the possibility of a Russian influence, which no doubt occurred, on the development of Uzbek literature. Affirming his own opinion with quotations from Ronald Kiffer, Werner Baum, Agnessa Uneman, Shamshiyabanu Satbaeva, Oybek and Marat Nurmuhammedov, the scholar Sherali Turdiev criticised Edward Allworth because of his overstatement of the influence of Farsi, Turkish, French and English literatures on the development of Uzbek literature while trying to underestimate the influence of progressive Russian literature. Attempts to determine not only the development of Uzbek realistic prose and dramatic art but also the essence of the works of M. Auezov, G. Musratov, and Ch. Aitmatov without pointing to the vital influence of the heritage of Pushkin, Chekhov, Tolstoy, and other Russian poets, writers and playwrights is scientifically ungrounded. Edward Allworth undoubtedly had his own political axe to grind, and he made his point clear that, though Russians pushed their literature on Central Asians, their efforts were ineffective and meaningless.

13In the article “The Uzbek writer Asqad Muhtor and his works” published in 1971 in the Central Asian Journal, the American scholar Harold R. Bettersby wrote that “even though Muhtor knew Russian very well, he did not try to fill his works with words which were borrowed from Russian” (quoted in Qayumov, 1981, p. 62). Bettersby tried to prove the Uzbek writer’s opposition to Russian influence. But his argument was denied by the contribution of academician C. Mamajonov «O‘zbek sovet adabiyoti tarixi burjua sovetshunoslari ko‘zgusida» [History of Soviet Uzbek Literature in the Mirror of Bourgeois Sovietologists] in which the author relied on resolutions of the Central Committee of the cpsu and the research of D. Likhačev, E. Yusupov, M. Nurmuhammedov, L. Qayumov, H. Inoyatov and M. Qoshjanov as a theoretical and methodological base. Mamajonov wrote that “their [Sovietologists] every single publication – whether it be a small article or a large book – contained deliberate distortion concerning the development of Uzbek Soviet literature, its content, ideas and achievements” (Mamajonov, 1985, pp. 45-66). He was even able to insult them as “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (ibid., p. 51).

14Another American Sovietologist, Daniel Matushevskiy, made a similarly dismissive statement on the issue of the historical past in the literatures of Central Asia (Matushevskiy, 1983). This researcher, who focused on historical novels, wrote:

The Turkic people have begun to discover that their past was not in darkness and without cultural perspective. They are very busy with the re-comprehending of their ancient past. Contemporary Central Asian novels also confirm that each of the four above-mentioned literary works presents a deep analysis of the vital roots of the Turkic-Farsi past of ancient Asia.
(Quoted in Turdiev, 1991, pp. 259-272)

15Considering that the novels discussed by Matushevskiy are Muhtor’s Chinor [Maple] (1969), Mirmuhsin’s Me’mor [Architect] (1974), Sulejmenov’s Az i  [Asia or ‘Az and Me’] (1975), and Aitmatov’s first novel I dol’še veka dlitsâ den’ [The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years] (1980), it becomes clear that his focus is on Uzbek, Kazakh and Kyrgyz historical literature. It is well know that these nations historically have lived close to each other. But each of them has its own economic, cultural, literary, linguistic, and ethnic peculiarities. The novels were written in different periods and are the products of writers who are representatives of three nations, each one performing his own individual method. As each writer has his own aesthetic ideal, thought, and explanatory method, each nation has its own novel-writing experience. Therefore, their assessment as a whole serves only to further the wider political goal of dismissing the national experiences which Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, and Kazakhs had undergone in the Soviet Union. Western political goals required that Central Asia be envisioned as a place that had neither been convinced by, nor enamoured with any of the ideas that the Soviet Union offered, including republican statuses. One needs only to look at the fact that these novels do not even depict the periods of history which are connected with a Turkic-Farsi past. Besides, many Uzbek, Kazakh and Kyrgyz writers did not ever look to their past as “a darkness” and “without cultural perspective” (ibid., p. 270). The fact that such novels as Zagrebel’nyj’s Âroslav Mudryj [Yaroslav the Wide], Ivan Le’s Bogdan Khmel’nickij, and Kalašnikov’s Žestokij vek [The Cruel Century] were written in the period studied by Matushevskiy, shows that the subject of the past was not only addressed by Turkic writers. In addition, Matushevskiy remained absolutely silent about historical features presented in novels such as Qodiriy’s O‘tkan kunlar [Bygone Days] and Mehrobdan chayon [Scorpion From the Altar], Ayni’s Qullar [Slaves], Auezov’s Abaj žoly [Abai’s Path], Oybek’s Qutlug‘ qon [Sacred Blood] and Navoiy, and many others.

16The American scholar was right in saying that under Soviet literary policy, the writers of colonised nations were permitted to address their past only within certain parameters. He argued that these nations were severed from their past by the October Revolution. But Daniel Matushevskiy did not consider the fact that each nation from which the four authors hail has an old history that continued to develop under the Soviet Union; he only examined them with an eye to a common Central Asian history, one which had long since exited the minds of Central Asia’s inhabitants. For this reason, Mirmuhsin, the author of Me’mor, making light of Matushevskiy’s “darkness and without cultural perspective” comment, wrote that the American looked at the novel “through dark glasses” (Mirmuhsin, 1984). Sherali Turdiev seconded the novelist’s suggestions based on historical facts as well as the work of German researcher Herbert Krempien. But he again did not openly oppose some aspects of the Soviet literary policy for fear of the political censorship of the time.

The Impact of Socialist Realism on Uzbek Literary Criticism

17The creative method of Soviet literature – a literature which praised utopian ideas – was born, put artificially into application, and collapsed, all during the twentieth century. In this sense, this creative method named socialist realism could be considered as an ephemeral occurrence. To put it simply, the method explained creative literature in strict connection with such principles as materialism, classism, and Party spirit, and considered literature as an inseparable part of Party work, or rather as a ‘screw’ of ideological propaganda. Uzbek intellectuals were obliged to recognise the resolutions and directions of the Party as a programme and had to apply them to their creative literary work. Resolutions adopted at the Plenum of the Central Committee of the cpsu from June 1983 continuously exercised influence throughout the 1980s. In these resolutions special attention was paid to the creation of a ‘positive’ hero who embodies the times, i.e. the formation of a communist who both carried ‘progressive’ ideas of the period and ‘raised a problem.’

18Obviously, the results of those efforts were seen not only in all genres and types of literature but also in works of cinema and fine arts. More important for us, literary criticism also could not avoid referencing the resolutions. For example, in his article Adabiyot g‘ojaviy kurashda [Literature in Ideological Struggle] Qayumov not only embraced the doctrine, but also expanded upon its bounds, exhorting talented youth to adhere to its principles.

Young writers and poets should pay special attention to the life of progressive contemporaries; they should dedicate their literary work to the depiction of heroism in labour and struggle of their generation and think seriously about ways to leave their mark on history.
(Qayumov, 1985, p. 11)

  • 4 It is worth mentioning that the viewpoints of Qayumov and Turdiev coincide in their disagreement wi (...)

19He acknowledged that “literature is a field of ideological struggle” and that “Uzbek literature also is not excluded from this law” (idem). In reality, in that period Uzbek literature had already begun to reach a totally new shore, but the literary critic had continued in his conservatism, which arose from Party resolutions and directions rather than the literary process. The scholar, adhering to socialist realism, gave his opinions on the books, articles and speeches of Allworth, Montgomery, Bennigsen, Matushevskiy, Fierman, Prosik, Hayit, Barrett, and Kuchar. Amongst them were such books as: Muslim National Communism in the Soviet Union by Bennigsen and Wimbush, Uzbek Literary Politics by Allworth and the articles “Turkic Past and Soviet Future” by Matushevskiy, “Uzbek feelings of ethnicity: A Study of Attitudes Expressed in Recent Uzbek Literature” by Fierman and a speech “Friendship Theme in Contemporary Turkestan Poetry,” delivered by Çağatay Kuchar at the Fourth International Turkic Congress of September 1982, in Istanbul. For example, Qayumov, an advocate of a “single multinational state” fiercely argued the opinion expressed by Matushevskiy that “irrespective of social regime, nationalism is typical for all countries of the world” (ibid., p. 16). Further, Matushevskiy observed of the early Soviet period “A praising and justification of the national past which was compulsorily forgotten within past decades by means of irony and allegories in modern literature of the Turkic nations” (idem). Acknowledging that in Eastern literature allegory was a traditional method, Qayumov disagreed with his foreign opponent because, as he contended, Uzbek literature, in order to be ideologically acceptable, had to be “national in form and socialist in content” and could not be “national in content” alone.4

20In his article «Hozirgi adabiy jarayon va burjua sovetshunoslari» [Contemporary Literary Process and Bourgeois Sovietologists], academician Qoshjanov positively assessed the activities of foreign literature critics, philologists and journalists such as Alo Raun, Nicolas Poppe, Ilsa Sirtautas, Bourbon Buchori and others (ibid., pp. 35-45). But while giving his opinion on Daniel Matushevskiy’s “Turkic Past and the Soviet Future,” he followed Qayumov’s view such as “Uzbek Literature should be national in the form, socialistic in the meaning” expressed in the article «Qat’iy javob», which was initially published in Literaturnaâ gazeta (May 18, 1982) and republished in Adabiyot va san’at (May 27, 1983). Undoubtedly, Matushevskiy was wrong when he supposed that “the nation only recomprehends its past.” Considering that nationalism had facilitated the establishment of independent national republics, one can see that some of Qayumov’s opinions related to nationalism expressed in literature had an unscientific character as those viewpoints appeared under the impact of the doctrine of socialist realism.

21Qayumov’s monograph O‘zbek adabiyoti va uning chet ellik «tanqidchilari» [Uzbek Literature and Its Overseas ‘Critics’] contained his response to some of the analyses of Edward Allworth, David Montgomery, Gedrik Smith, and Harold Bettersby. Qayumov accused Allworth that in his book Uzbek Literary Politics he observed Uzbek literature as a whole and noticed the presence of a spirit of nationalism in it. But the scholar did not prove his opinion with concrete findings (Qayumov, 1981, pp. 55-63.). In his monograph, Qayumov once again closely followed socialist realism in his criticism of Montgomery’s research on Hamid Olimjon, whose lyrics were written in 1937-1938 and published in Canada in 1975, as an attempt to falsify the poet’s works:

The lyrical poetry of Hamid Olimjon in this period was very impressionable and had an intimate character, because in it he described his strong love for his wife, family and nature which he portrayed as something that harboured him from evil. In some places one can see such nocturnal philosophizing which shows that some opinions and topics aimed to the general public did not come to Olimjon easily.
Ibid. p. 59)

  • 5 The following speeches of David Montgomery, which were made at three conferences on Central Asia, s (...)

22But unfortunately Qayumov did not wish to delimit Olimjon’s verses on happiness and cheerfulness. He saw the social as a leitmotif of Olimjon’s poetry and tendentiously assessed the observations of David Montgomery on his lyrics.5 Of course, the opinion of the Uzbek scholar on the possibility of a social tone combined with intimacy is well grounded. But it is clear that he was troubled by the idea that Olimjon’s poetry might be devalued if it was found to not conform to Soviet ideology. While accusing the American scholar of distortion of the content and essence of the Uzbek poet’s literary heritage, he made special note that the poet was always in a “correct Party position.” It was impossible for Qayumov to act differently in the Soviet period where politically oriented lyric was supported in all possible ways, while the intimate lyric was treated with contempt. For this reason he felt an obligation to strongly tie the intimate feelings in Olimjon’s lyric to social tones. He could not plainly state that a human heart may be purified by love, and that love may morally raise a person, and that a poet who looked at the universe from that eminence could see the world more broadly than others. The popularity and appreciation of the intimate lyrics of Hamid Olimjon in the present time, and the eternity of love shows that very personal internal feelings received their beautiful expressions in these verses. So, on this point the observation of David Montgomery was very well-grounded.

23Academician Baxtiyor A. Nazarov, who worked in a period where the struggle between the two systems – socialism and capitalism – had risen to its culmination, in his contribution «Mafkuraviy kurash va o‘zbek tanqidchiligi» [Ideological Struggle and Uzbek Criticism] also had to approach the problem of literary critiques in light of Party ideology (Nazarov, 1985, pp. 85-113). He was guided by practical programmes and the directions of the Communist Party, especially by the resolutions of the June 1984 Plenum of the Central Committee of the cpsu, which mainly discussed ideological and public political issues. Amongst the theoretical-methodological sources on which the scholar relied were such monographs as Al’bert Belâev’s Ideologičeskaâ bor’ba i literatura [Ideological Struggle and Literature] (1977), Aleksandr Dimšis’ Nišeta sovetologii i revizionizma [The Poverty of Sovietology and Revisionism] (1975), Avner Zis’ Konfrontacii v èstetike [Confrontations in Aesthetics] (1980), Vladimir Boršukov’s Pravda i lož o sovetskoj literature [Truth and Falsehood about Soviet Literature] (1972), and Pole bitvy idej: sovetskaâ literatura za rubežom [The Battlefield of Ideas: Russian Literature Abroad] (1988). In these works, the analyses and interpretations were guided by Marxist-Leninist methodology, and directives were given to scholars of national republics. Thus, Nazarov’s argument that it was important to discover “ideological enemies” in literature, particularly in literary criticism, was no doubt a result of Party leaders’ influence.

24Nazarov spoke critically of literary policy in the United States, which had black listed such works as Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Tom Sawyer, for school libraries and refused to republish The Ballades of Robin Hood and Other Outlaws. Professor C. Harris, from the University of Illinois, officially stated that he regretted entering more than 500 books on the black list during the Reagan administration (quoted in Nazarov, 1985, p. 88). However, the historical situation made literary criticism a work of political importance. Given his awareness of the American literary situation, Nazarov considered – not without reason – as great counter-ideological achievements such fundamental works as the following 1970s monographs of Uzbek scholars: H. Inoyatov’s Sovet O‘rta Osiyosi va Qozog‘iston tarixini buzib ko‘rsuvchilarga javob [A Response to Those Who Distort the History of Soviet Central Asia and Kazakhstan] (1962), and Lenincha milliy siyosat harakatda [Leninist Nationalities Policy in Action] (1973); G. Hidoyatov’s Bo‘xtonga qarshi haqiqat [Truth Against Slander] (1964), and Lenincha milliy programma va hozirgi mafkuravij kurash [The Leninist National Programme and the Modern Ideological Struggle] (1972), R. Aminov’s Sovet hukumatining agrar siyosati va uni buzib ko‘rsatuvchilarni tanqid [A Critique of Those Who Distort the Agrarian Policy of the Soviet Government] (1972) and a collective work which was prepared by social sciences experts, Sovet tuzumining ulug‘vorligi va uni buzib ko‘rsatuvchilarning ojizligi [The Greatness of the Soviet Regime and the Insignificance of Those Who Misrepresent It] (1975). Nazarov gave to social sciences experts of the Uzbek ssr the task of “creating collective works every two or three years which could promptly reveal the viewpoints of foreign scholars” (ibid., p. 87) because he was not satisfied with the conclusions of previous such collections. In other words he called scholars not to fall behind Western Sovietologists in the ideological struggle.

25Nazarov began his career as a politically engaged critic in the 1950s, drawing on Oybek’s article «Yomon mo‘ridan yomon tutun chiqadi» [A Bad Chimney Emits bad Smoke] which was written as a response to the Polish writer Josef Gen and his comparative-typological method (Oybek, 1958). Nazarov proposed the principle of writing critiques in a comparative-typological style, not by ungrounded statements. He examined such books as Nurmuhammedov’s Adabiyot va g‘oyaviy kurash [Literature and the Ideological Struggle] (1976), and Adabiyot va mafkura [Literature and Ideology] (1977), Qayumov’s Meridianlardagi uchrashuvlar [Meetings in the Meridians] (1976) and Turdiev’s article «Tuhmatning umri qisqa» [The Life of Slander is Short] which appeared in Uzbek critiques and literary works as an improvement in the ‘experiment’ of Uzbek literary criticism. A small aphorism “Yolg‘on-qo‘rquvdan chiqib keladi” [A Fib Comes From Fear] from Oybek’s article «Yolg‘onchi to‘ti» [The Liar Parrot] grabbed the attention of Nazarov because he attributed the ‘libel’ of Sovietologists to those who feared the achievements of the Soviet regime. Oybek’s witticism was in response to the following viewpoints of B. Hayit: “Even before the October Revolution, real independent Uzbek literature didn’t exist. Instead, there was ‘Chagatay Turkic literature’- [literature in] the common language for all Turkic nations in the Central Asian region” (quoted in Oybek, 1958).

26By giving examples of literature which began with Aḥmad ibn Maḥmūd Yugnakī and continued to be developed by Khorazmī, Durbek, Ata’ī, Luṭfī, Nawā’ī, Babur, Mashrab, Muqīmī and Furqat, Oybek showed that this was not common to Turkic literature but was concretely Uzbek literature. Following Oybek, Nazarov also attacked this view of B. Hayit: “Modern Uzbek literature is not a real national literature, but a ‘literature’ which was created under a ‘definite political direction’” (quoted in Nazarov, 1985, p. 89). Nazarov, through his writings, quickly grew into the role of an ideological policeman. This can be observed by the difference between his research conducted in the 1970s and his articles and research of the 1950s-1960s. Early in his career, one of Nazarov’s principal influences and a work he kept returning to was Nurmuhammedov’s Adabiy meros va mafkuraviy kurash [Literary Heritage and the Ideological Struggle]. This monograph highlighted three common research questions in the Uzbek literary scholarship of Western critics, namely Sovietologists: first, the place of religion in the development of Uzbek literature; second, the place of a common Turkic heritage and a common Turkic territory in the development of Uzbek literature; and third, the distinctiveness of the Soviet literary canon from classical Uzbek literature. In order to demonstrate the frequency with which these questions were addressed the scholar drew from countless works of American scholarship, including Allworth’s books Uzbek Literary Politics (1964), Central Asian Publishing and The Rise of Nationalism (1965), and his articles in the collections Central Asia, A Century of Russian Rule (1967), and National issues in Soviet Central Asia (1973), as well as the articles “The Newest Literature of Central Asia” (1959) and “The Newest Literature in Central Asia and Kazakhstan” (1962), which were published in Central Asian Review. It also included the work of Columbia University expert Anna Prosik, Study of National Issues and Heritage in Central Asia. While Nurmuhammedov was correct to point out the reductivism to these three categories of American scholarship in its examinations, he too committed his own reductivist sins. His attachment to the doctrine of socialist realism forced him to cheapen literature: throughout his monograph he categorised Uzbek literature as either ‘progressive’ or ‘regressive.’

27Nazarov adopted Nurmuhammedov’s three principles and his reductivist readings without question. He drew an inflammatory argument from Imtiyoz Khan’s analysis of Nurmuhammedov’s works in his article, “Muslims of Central Asia.” In the article Imtiyoz Khan contentiously claimed that “in order to weaken the influence of Farsi on Central Asian Turkic languages the works of Nawā’ī are repeatedly published” (quoted in Nazarov, 1985). Nurmuhammedov rejected Imtiyoz Khan’s opinion as unfounded thought emphasizing on Nawā’ī’s works created in Turkish language and called Sovietologist’s such a motion as “an attempt to build a ship from a pistachio shell” (idem). Nazarov also supported Nurmuhammedov’s thought against Imtiyoz Khan, and observed that his views were morally close to other Uzbek ideologies such as those found in E. Fozilov and M. Makhmudova’s article «O‘zbekistonda lenincha lisoniy siyosat tantanasi va burjua fal’sifikatorlarini tanqid» [The Triumph of Leninist Language Policy in Uzbekistan and Critique of Bourgeois Falsifiers] (1975). Nazarov cited the similarities between Nurmuhammedov’s views and those of the Western scholars Prosik, Matushevskiy, Kuchar, and Wheeler as well as those of ‘West-leaning’ Uzbek scholars that used Gen’s comparative-typological method, namely H.T. Tursunov and I. Ibrohimova.

28Nazarov came down particularly hard on Nurmuhammedov’s odd choice to quote an American scholar, Violet Conolly in disproving Hayit’s untrue point that “the young Uzbek generation is forced to study Uzbek national classics in Russian” (idem). The Uzbek policeman observed that Nurmuhammedov’s method was to beat an opponent with the weapon of his own ‘associates.’ It is obvious that the critic Baxtiyor Nazarov, because he considered himself among the “frontier guards of ideology” like Belâev, Ozerov, Nurmuhammedov, Xidoyatov, Qayumov, Turdiev, and others, always tried to vigilantly adhere to the flow of Soviet politics while assessing the works of Western researchers. Because of that status, he paid little attention to literary analysis itself and more attention to the political antecedents that made every opinion possible and the hidden ideological meanings behind each analysis.

29Naim Karimov, a Foreignologist of the 1980s, pointed out some of the same politically directed literary criticism in the United States, but, like Nazarov, he adhered to socialist realism in making his criticisms. In his monograph Hozirgi adabiy jarayon burjua olimlari talqinida [Modern Literary Process as Explained by Bourgeois Scholars] (1981), he correctly identified that the struggle in the literary work had become a struggle between the ideologies of East and West (Karimov, 1981, pp. 67-85). The scholar, who relied on the materials of the June 1983 Plenum of the Central Committee of the cpsu, came to the conclusion that the methods of struggle of Western scholars were influenced by us politics and international relations. Citing John F. Kennedy’s Strategy of Peace (1960), in which he writes, “We should sow seeds of freedom in each hole of the iron curtain and carefully look after them” (quoted in Karimov, 1981, p. 67), Karimov accused American research centres dedicated to Central Asia of serving ideological goals. He worried that the increase of interest in Uzbek language in the us and other countries could cause an increase in the number of Sovietologists and concomitant Sovietologised readings of Uzbek literature. According to Karimov’s observations, Western scholars specialised mainly in the history of literature. They were aware of the history of Uzbek literature before wwii (1936-1937). In the reserves of American and European libraries there are samples of Uzbek soviet literature, which were published only in the pre-war period. Besides, he noted that the preparation of a new generation of specialists who could directly use the Uzbek language had started in the 1960s. Karimov maintained that because of the influences at work, American students of literature could never have a full understanding of Uzbek literary processes. Such conclusions are well-founded. However, Karimov mistakenly denied the correct objections of Western scholars that Uzbek literature produced its best works in the 1920s, and after 1929, it became totally socialised. He also unfoundedly denied German scholar Jürgen Rule’s critical opinions on the method of socialist realism, the correct acknowledgments of Peter Iokostru that Soviet literature developed by avoiding the creative method, and Thomas Whitney’s acknowledgment that there was an increase of attention to the problems of the individual in literature (ibid., p. 72). At the same time he correctly criticises such scholars as Allworth, Garold, Bettersby, Bens, and Müller Udeys for their superficial conclusions, which were made without supporting evidence.

  • 6 These materials were the following: The Greatness of the Soviet Regime and the Blindness of their F (...)

30Tanovar Sharipova was another Uzbek scholar, prominent just before the fall of the Soviet Union. In her contribution «O‘zbek adabiyotining xalqaro aloqalari to‘g‘risida» [On the International Relations of Uzbek Literature], national literature was observed as a “component part” of soviet literary criticism (Sharipova, 1981, pp. 113-120). She understood literature as an ideological weapon. This scholar, who saw only the ideological struggle between the two regimes in every piece, examined various radio stations (Voice of America, Liberty, Free Europe) and special centres stationed in Western countries as facilities which distorted Soviet culture, art, and literature. She condemned organisations and area studies centres in the United States, Germany, Great-Britain and other countries which study Turkic languages and literature, including universities of Washington (Seattle), Colombia Bloomington, Harvard and Los Angeles, as institutions which conduct propaganda against communism. She named the scholars of these institutions Sovietologists who falsified the literary process in our country, spreading slander and libel. Sharipova celebrated the unmasking of bourgeois Sovietologists in Soviet monographs, manuals, and conference materials which were published in Uzbekistan as literary-political and ideological achievements.6

31As a methodological basis, Sharipova relied on the Resolution of the Central Committee of the cpsu “on the further improvement of ideological and political-educational works,” and on the articles of Yusupov, Nurmuhammedov, and Qayumov. In such documents, ‘heralds of capitalism’ were smeared. With no doubt, Sharipova’s opinions are not totally groundless. M. Sarkisyans who saw in the novel O‘tkan kunlar [Bygone Days] only the love theme and “classical depiction of an unrealised tragic love,” explained the novel as a book which called women to emancipation. The assessment of Sharipova that “this kind of explanation decreases the social essence of the book” is justified. Also correct is her argument criticizing Montgomery’s research, in which she contends: “He [Montgomery] takes information about Hamid Olimjon’s life and work from Soviet media, but turns it around and inside out, twisting it against the Soviets in any way possible” (Sharipova, 1985, pp. 113-120).

32Sharipova truly demonstrated that scholarship could overcome politics if real efforts were made to increase literary communication. When Sharipova stated the translation of literature she revealed her real scientific potential, because then she had the opportunity to talk openly about socialist writers and poets, representatives of culture and art who worked in the Democratic Republic of Germany, France, Italy, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Czechoslovakia:

Uzbek literature and scientific thought entered Germany many centuries ago in the original and in translation. German readers became aware of Uzbek literature even in the sixteenth century. ‘Alī Shīr Nawā’ī’s poem Sab‘a-yi sayyār was published in German in 1583 in Basel. In the nineteenth century such examples of Uzbek literature as Oghiznāma, Muḥabbatnāma, Shajara-yi turk, Baburnāma, Qutadugu bilik entered Germany. Later those books were published under the translations of H. Vámbéry, Brockelman, F. Hommel. Tanovar Sharipova proudly wrote about writers and scholars who assisted in the acquaintance of German readers with works of Uzbek writers, such as Sigrid Kleinmichel, Alfred Kurella, Ilse Laude-Cirtautas, E. Brummer and H. Huppert.
Ibid., p. 116)

33When she recalled the friendly relations between the literatures of Uzbekistan and France she brought up facts such as:

Uzbek literature became first known in France in the seventeenth century. In 1697 in Paris, the French orientalist Bartholemy d’Herbelot published the book La Bibliothèque orientale. In this book information about ‘Alī Shīr Nawā’ī and samples from his works were given. At the end of the nineteenth century French scholar A. Pavet de Courteille translated the Baburnāma into French.
Ibid., p. 118)

34It is worth mentioning that in the past fifty years in France works of Ayni, Oybek, G‘ulom, Zulfiya and other Uzbek writers were published, and progressive French writers Louis Aragon, André Burmser and J.P. Sartre wrote scholarly articles about their works. It is worth noting the publication in London of the famous Turkic epic poem Korogli, published in several editions (including the English translation by Alexander Chodzko), and Kitabi Dede Korkut [Dede Korkut’s Book], also in several editions (including a first English translation in 1972 by Faruk Sumer, Ahmet E. Uysal and Warren S. Walker), as well as the preservation of the only copy of the poem Gul va Navruz by Lufi. Some works of ‘Alī Shīr Nawā’ī, and manuscripts of other Uzbek writers who lived in the fifteenth century can be found at the British Library in London. That information also includes such bibliographic publications in Italy of Alessio Bombaci’s History of Turkish Literature and Ettore Rossi’s Turkish Literature. A university textbook collection was published in Czechoslovakia called History of Literatures of Asia and Africa, of which the third volume was titled Asian Literature of the ussr. This volume described the history of the literature of Uzbekistan and analysed the works of several Uzbek writers. Acknowledging the publication in Uzbekistan of the works of foreign writers in thousands of copies, Tanovar Sharipova felt proud that Uzbek readers were reaching the works of Schiller, Heyne, Dumas, Stendhal, Maupassant, Byron, Shakespeare, and others in their native language. The widening of literary relations is really worthy of pride. But the above-mentioned examples show that overcoming the pressure of cold war politics was not an easy task.


35This article shows that the politics of the cold war penetrated scholars of Uzbek literature, in both the East and the West. The research produced by Western scholars should not be thrown out, however, as it has something to offer to current Uzbek literary criticism. The criticism of that era makes the following points that would find much agreement among current Uzbek scholars:

  • Uzbek Jadid literature was a patriotic literature with a spirit of independence;

  • such writers as Qodiriy, Chulpon, Fitrat and Elbek were not enemies of the people, but on the contrary patriots and devoted writers;

  • the struggle against Russian colonialism and rule was brightly depicted in Uzbek literature of the 1920s;

  • the freedom of style allowed by socialist realism was false;

  • Soviet literature tried to put the ‘art of words’ into a single form;

  • political repression and its threat detracted from artistic quality.

36Most Soviet-era Uzbek literary critics earlier viewed such opinions as “the slander and libel directed by our ideological enemies” (Nazarov, 2009, p. 107). As a result of the primacy of social and political interpretations of literature, Uzbek literary criticism on the Soviet side fell into a vulgar sociologism, and literature was only deemed valuable if it had a political bent. No critic could simply address the artistic or intimate nature of a work. And Uzbek Foreignologist scholars could rarely comfortably express agreement or neutrality about critical works produced in Western countries. Despite that, some valuable opinions were also put forward in the research of Foreignologists who worked in Uzbek literature from the 1950s to the 1990s:

  • literature, the literary situation and facts were studied in close connection with social life. Literary events could be compared, contrasted, and analysed with regard to their political origins;

  • the relationship between the literary work and reality, its historical degree of truthfulness, and its representation of truth about life in literary works were studied;

  • poetic elements could be analysed as social or ideological points;

  • attempts were made for the determination of laws common to the development of literature and literary work. A widened opportunity for the application of comparative method;

  • mutual relations of national literature and issues of literary influence were studied for the purpose of combating bourgeois nationalism as well as rank primordialism;

  • foreign scholars were called on not to distort information;

  • bias and partiality could be called out, to lay the groundwork for new, contrary ideas.

37In the 1950-1990s, literature became one of the main ideological weapons of the superpowers in the political arena. In fact, it reflected the main essence of political discord between East and West in those ‘ideological struggles’ of the researchers who had different views. These Uzbek and foreign ideologists aimed at strengthening their political position through their attitudes towards a certain literary-historical reality. Since most of Western and Uzbek scholars did not know the language, they used translated versions of the critiques and did not read any primary sources. This circumstance, too, did not give the sides an opportunity to understand each other. Today, neither foreign nor Uzbek literary critics are interested in re-examining those literary-political processes in the ideological arena and comparing them with original sources and archives materials. They all were dismissed as ‘old thoughts influenced by Soviet politics and ideology of the period.’ Nevertheless, the re-analysis and reinterpretation of these processes based on pluralistic thought and the study of mechanisms of ideological struggle are among the important tasks of contemporary literary studies. Such analysis may create an opportunity for intervention in future ideological fights and can help develop a spirit of loyalty to scientific truth, in order to focus on original works.

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Karimov Naim, 1981, «Hozirgi adabiy jarayon burjua olimlari talqinida» [Modern Literature Process as Explained by Bourgeois Scholars], in Laziz Qayumov & Matyoqub Qoshjanov (eds.), G‘oyaviy kurash va o‘zbek adabiyoti [Ideological Struggle and Uzbek Literature], Tashkent: Fan nashriyoti.

Mallaev Natan, 1976 [1962], O‘zbek adabiyoti tarixi [History of Uzbek Literature], Tashkent: O‘qituvchi nashriyoti.

Mamajonov Salohiddin, 1985, «O‘zbek sovet adabiyoti tarixi burjua sovetshunoslari ko‘zgusida» [History of Soviet Uzbek Literature in the Mirror of Bourgeois Sovietologists], in Laziz Qayumov & Matyoqub Qoshjanov (eds.), G‘oyaviy kurash va o‘zbek adabiyoti [Ideological Struggle and Uzbek Literature], Tashkent: Fan nashriyoti.

Matushevskiy Daniel, 1983, “Turkic Past and the Soviet Future,” Problems of Communism 34(4).

Mirmuhsin Shermuhamedov, 1984, «Me’morga qora ko‘zoynakdan boqibdi» [Me’mor with Black Glasses], O‘zbekiston adabiyoti va san’ati gazetasi, February 17.

Nazarov Baxtiyor, 1985, «Mafkuraviy kurash va o‘zbek tanqidchiligi» [Ideological Struggle and Uzbek Criticism], in Laziz Qayumov & Matyoqub Qoshjanov (eds.), G‘oyaviy kurash va o‘zbek adabiyoti [Ideological Struggle and Uzbek Literature], Tashkent: Fan nashriyoti.

, 2009, «Ijodiy hamkorlik» [Creative Cooperation], Jahon adabiyoti 147(8).

Nurmuhammedov Marat, 1976, Adabiyot va g‘oyaviy kurash [Literature and Ideological Struggle], Tashkent: Fan nashriyoti.

Oybek, 1958, «Yomon mo’ridan yomon tutun chiqadi» [A Bad Chimney Emits Bad Smoke], Qizil O’zbekiston, December 15.

Qayumov Laziz, 1976, Meridianlardagi uchrashuvlar [Meetings in Meridians], Tashkent: Fan nashriyoti.

, 1981, O‘zbek adabiyoti va uning chet ellik «tanqidchilari» [Uzbek Literature and its Overseas ‘Critics’], Tashkent: Adabiyot va san’at nashriyoti.

, 1982, «Qat’iy javob» [Final Response], Literaturnaâ gazeta, May 18.

, 1983, «Qat’iy javob» [Final Response], Adabiyot va san’at, May 27.

, 1985, «Adabiyot g‘oyaviy kurashda» [Literature in the Ideological Struggle], in Laziz Qayumov & Matyoqub Qoshjanov (eds.), G‘oyaviy kurash va o‘zbek adabiyoti [Ideological Struggle and Uzbek Literature], Tashkent: Fan nashriyoti.

Qoshjanov Matyoqub, 1985, «Hozirgi adabiy jarayon va burjua sovetshunoslari» [Contemporary Literary Process and Bourgeois Sovietologists], in Laziz Qayumov & Matyoqub Qoshjanov (eds.), G‘oyaviy kurash va o‘zbek adabiyoti [Ideological Struggle and Uzbek Literature], Tashkent: Fan nashriyoti.

Sharipova Tanovar, 1985, «O‘zbek adabiyotining xalqaro aloqalari to‘g‘risida» [On the International Relations of Uzbek Literature], in Laziz Qayumov & Matyoqub Qoshjanov (eds.), G‘oyaviy kurash va o‘zbek adabiyoti [Ideological Struggle and Uzbek Literature], Tashkent: Fan nashriyoti.

Turdiev Sherali, 1991, «Roman va burjua ‘sovetshunoslari’» [The Novel and the Bourgeois ‘Sovietologists’], in O’rta Osiyo va Qozog’iston xalqlari adabiyotidagi roman janrini tipologik o’rganish [Typological Study of Novel Genre in National Literatures of Central Asia and Kazakhstan], Tashkent: Fan nashriyoti.

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1 In Turkestan at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century, the Jadid movement arose as a socio-political movement in response to historical conditions. In the period from 1917 until the first stage of the February Revolution, the movement, which had begun as a programme for national education, gradually widened its scope to establish an independent Uzbek state, while bringing about socio-political and cultural reforms and propagandizing the ideas of freedom in the life of Turkestan society.

2 I am intending to research on the period of independence in my future investigations.

3 The American scholars’ quotes that I am using in this article are not their direct words. As it has been impossible for me to have access to their archives and original sources, I am using their quotes from academic works published in Uzbekistan. The translation back into English is mine.

4 It is worth mentioning that the viewpoints of Qayumov and Turdiev coincide in their disagreement with Matushevskiy regarding Mirmuhsin’s Me’mor, Muhtor’s Chinor, and Aitmatov’s I dol’še veka dlitsâ den’, and in their disapproval of Allworth’s commentary on Mukhtor’s Opa-singillar.

5 The following speeches of David Montgomery, which were made at three conferences on Central Asia, served as a ground for the abovementioned research-article: “Hamid Olimjon-Soviet Poet and Publicist,” Western Conference of the Association of Central Asian Studies, September, 1973, Albuquerque, New Mexico; “Hamid Olimjon: His Success in Career and Recognition in Uzbek Soviet Literature,” Middle Western Conference on Asian Affairs, November, 1974, Laurence, Kansas; “Zaynab va Omon – Love and Freedom of Uzbek Women-Collective Farmers; A Poetic story of Hamid Olimjon,” Western Conference of the Association of Central Asian Studies, December, 1974, Tempe, Arizona.

6 These materials were the following: The Greatness of the Soviet Regime and the Blindness of their Falsifiers. Critique of Those Who Distort the Past and the Present of Uzbekistan (monograph, Tashkent, 1975); National Issues and the Ideological Struggle in the Present Conditions (proceedings of a conference held in 1975, Tashkent, 1977); Actual Problems of the Ideological Struggle in the Present Time and Tasks of Social Sciences in Uzbekistan (scientific conference held in 1979, Tashkent).

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Zulkhumor Mirzaeva, «  Criticism as War: The Ideological Battlefield of Uzbek Literary Studies from the 1950s to the 1990s »Cahiers d’Asie centrale, 24 | 2015, 267-291.

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Zulkhumor Mirzaeva, «  Criticism as War: The Ideological Battlefield of Uzbek Literary Studies from the 1950s to the 1990s »Cahiers d’Asie centrale [En ligne], 24 | 2015, mis en ligne le 10 mars 2016, consulté le 18 avril 2024. URL :

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Zulkhumor Mirzaeva

Post-doctoral student at the International department of the Language and Literature Institute under the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan, Zulkhumor Mirzaeva earned a Master’s Degree in Uzbek from National University of Uzbekistan, and a PhD in Comparative Literature and Translation Theory in 2007 from the Language and Literature Institute. She worked as a lecturer on contemporary literature in the Creative Writing and Literary Translation club in 1995-2004. Her research interests include Uzbek-foreign literary relations and translations, and reception of Uzbek works in foreign countries. She has published two books and numerous articles on Uzbek literature in the United States and is currently working on the study of Uzbek literary politics abroad as well as the translation of Uzbek Short Stories into English with Anna Oldfield. Amon her main publications: Study of Twentieth-Century Uzbek Literature in America, 2011, Tashkent: Fan (in Uzbek); Through the River and Wages, 2010, Tashkent: Adib (in Uzbek); “Representations of Europeans in Twentieth-Century Uzbek Literature,” Journal of the Institute for Foreign Language Studies (South Korea), 2012, n° 2, pp. 67-105. Contact:,

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