Central Asia   KAZAKHSTAN

 

Mukhtar the Great

By Mike Haynes, February 2001

Mukhtar Auezov, known as Mukhtar the Great, was a prominent Kazakh author. He was born in 1897 to a “family of a nomadic tribe leader.” His grandfather taught him to read and write, and at the age of six, Auezov recalled that “ he was sitting in his grandfathers yurt and saw written verses for the first time. He was amazed at the fact that songs sung by adults and children could be written on paper.” This realization of his led to his fascination with the arts and ultimately to his wealth of fifty works. Auezov began writing at the age of 20. His works covered almost every genre, including everything from film to novel, tragedy to comedy. He devoloped a new style in Kazakh literature, using unique language and style, and a true to life and history way of storytelling. Critics say, “Auezov’s work gave birth to and devoloped the Kazakh literature and some of its genres.” However, it would not be until Auezov wrote his final work, “The Path of Abai,” that he would become truly famous.

In researching for “The Path of Abai” (Abai being another famous Kazakh author and a role model to Mukhtar), Auezov collected stories from friends and family of Abai. “As a result, he wrote not just a large biography, but a deep philosophical comprehension of the life of a person seeking for self-realization.” After this novel was published, Auezov went from a mere poet to a literary master. There is no other novel found like this one in Kazakhstan’s history and this shows how important Auezov was in creating Kazakh literature.

Mukhtar Auezov became very famous not only for creating Kazakh literature, but also for connecting with the Kazakh and Central Asian people. It is written, “probably, Auezov was the only one who could comprise the whole Orient in his writing with all the traditions, customs, steppe colors, love of life and its vivifying principle. This is a very strong statement. The quotation shows how powerful his work is as well as how much he was inspired by his fellow Kazakhs. Further evidence of this can be found in one of his characters in Enlik-Kebek, an early play, when he says, “Condemned time! The time, when the hero’s soul is in the wolf’s jaws…I will search for the truth among my Kazakh people. I will ask them for shelter! I trust them and believe in them!” The quote shows how Auezov knows and reaches out to the people of Kazakhstan. In turn the people identify with his characters. This is ultimately how Auezov becomes an important part of Kazakhstan’s national identity. By writing about what he knows, and by leading the same, difficult life as the Kazakhs lead, Auezov will always be identified as the co-founder of Kazakh literature. Evidence of this is found in front of Kazakh Academic Drama Theatre named after him where a picture of a Kazakh girl who is “gentle and poetical, courageous and selfless at the same time” is carved in the wall.

There are many ways a country celebrates its national identity. In 1997, Kazakhstan did just that by commemorating the 100th year anniversary of Mukthar the great. However, the important contributions of this great Kazakh writer were not just felt in Kazakhstan, but were felt worldwide. Countries celebrating the 100th year anniversary included France, Russia, Kyrggystam, Canada and Turkey. To truly show Auezov’s influence, Turkey held “ a special conference, devoted to the 100th anniversary of prominent Kazakh writer and poet, Mukhtar Auezov, will be held in Bishek on 13 June.”

I feel the best way to judge someone’s influence is to hear what their friends have to say. However, how do you judge one man’s influence over an entire society? Friends of Auezov said that he was not happy. They also commented that “Auezov was stocky and tried to lose excessive weight. However, he was strong, young looking and manly.” However, to Kazakhstan, he was much more. He was a “bright page in the history of the Kazakh people.” I feel his life can truly be summed up by the following quote. “Auezov, a true son of his people and a literary artist with a hard life, described the multiform of life of the kazakhs with inimitable talent and skill.

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