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Literary Arts in Kyrgyzstan

The landscape of the Kyrgyz so-called written literature (in comparison with the-still existing oral tradition in poetry and epic genres) - of the late 1920s and early 1930s is a scene of dull and engaged writings. Most writers were, in fact party’s servants, none of them developed into anything original, they stayed outgrown and naïve “children” that were just learning how to write (first in Arabic till the 40-s, then in Latin – till the 50-s, then in Cyrillic – till now). But they have found one very important thing – the more they praised the Communist Party and Kolkhoz, the better they lived – money, beautiful women, and the honors such as “the people’s writer or poet”. Before the collapse of the Soviet empire part of them became laureates of the State awards and the competitive spirit when everybody was looking for a high social position associated with a party pyramid created a horrible atmosphere in the literary scene. Chinghiz Aitmatov was the only author to make a great career, appraised in his eyes and hated behind his back. Aitmatov was a clever, talented person, who wanted to accumulate the wide heritage of the world literature, but he didn’t have enough time to do that as well as serious and long solitude to concentrate on inner development. With the collapse of the “empire” Chinghiz Aitmatov’s literary career was also ruined, he stopped writing and chose to be an Ambassador in Luxembourg. Other patriarchs of the Kyrgyz literature such as A.Tokombaev, T.Sydykbekov, K.Jantoshev, K.Bayalinov, K.Malikov, J.Mavlianov, S.Jusuev and others have never surpassed the early prose of Aitmatov, never integrated the best experience of the world literature with their national tradition. Only in poetry, the names of Ramis Ryskulov and Alykul Osmonov made the real glory of the Kyrgyz nation, but never crossed the borders of their land.
Against the background of the Kyrgyz Soviet prose, Kubatbek Djusubaliev remained a misunderstood figure in his own land, whose “legs were in the dirt of earth, and his head – in the clouds of the sky”, -as he wrote about himself. He relied on the intellectual heritage of the Eastern and Western tradition, bringing them into an interesting new synthesis, and also on the tradition of the great national poetry, mostly oral according to the ancestry of the living Manas epic which is still being memorized and sung among the Kyrgyz people. He praises the poetry of the ‘people’s “akyns”, such as Zhenijok, Toktogul, Arstanbek, Kazybek, Moldo Kylych, Barpy, Moldo Niaz. Those were really great figures in the people’s tradition, though their art still remains unknown to the world and requires serious studies, especially in the context of the world comparative literary tradition. In the emptiness of the Soviet “written word” K.Jusubaliev discovered the treasures of the oral word, the style of his people worked out through the century and unknown to the world outside of his country, discovered its original rhythm, breath and wording. He made it sound contemporary; there lies a key to his genius. His works are rich in texture and content, based on parables, folk humor and allusions to the natural wisdom of his ancestors. Only in the time of national awaking his writings are being rediscovered by his compatriots, acquiring a wider range of readers; he is growing into a figure of an intellectual and moral authority, though he never claimed this status, remaining a modest person, an intellectual hermit / warrior, at the same time, which is quite in the tradition of the spiritual, ancient East.

This essay was written in preparation for the Silk Routes Symposium, held in the Maldives, March 2014.