There were different ideas and considerations about history of formation of Azerbaijani novel. Specialists in literature are at variance about the beginning of history of Azerbaijani novel: the works like "The Deceived Stars" (M.F.Akhundov, 1857) or "The Story of ibrahimbay's Travel" (Zeynalabdin Maraghali, 1887) or "Bahadur and Sona" (N.Narimanov, 1896) are separatly considered the first novel in history of Azerbaijani literature. Most of the specialilsts in literatute consider the first Azerbaijani novel "The Story of ibrahimbay's Travel" by Z.Maraghali. This work consists of three parts and was written in the form of diary.

In general more than 20 novels had been written till sovetization in Azerbaijan (1887-1919). The authors of them were Z.Maraghali, J.Mammadquluzadeh, N.Narimanov, S.M.Ganizadeh, A.Talibov, M.S.Ordubadi, B.Jabbarzadeh and others. But though the works by the first three authors have got some merits the works by other authors are not on the standart of the genre and considered a novel only conditionally.

In the first decade of sovetization (1920-1930) in Azerbaijan no novel was written. These years are noteworthy by the speed development of the genre "story" and successes gained in this genre promoted to the literary practice in formation of a new Azerbaijani novel. Of course, "story" and "novel" are different genres, their capasity of description and thinking differ. At the same time there are typological generic between these genres because of not only by their features of the kind and prosaic form but some inner structural components as well. And that is why Azerbaijani prose inriched by the genre of story in twenties could move to the genre of novel "suddenly" in early thirties. Nevertheless, the classic tradition of Azerbaijani novel, including the second half of the 19th century and the eve of the sovetization had a lot of inner incitiment and influence on the novel of thirties. The aesthetics of the first novels in Azerbaijani soviet literature of thirties formed not at once, but by and by-after it had got a rich way of creation. Our folklore, classic eposes, popular tales, anecdotes, legends, narrations and other sources like them, works by Nizami, Fuzuli, M.F.Axundov, J.Mammadquluzadeh, M.A.Sabir, N.Narimanov, different peculiarities like delicate feelings and psychological shades in the lyrics of our classic poets provide with the factors of formation of Azerbaijani novel.

Of course, the dramaturgy and poetry of that period took some part in formation of the genre of a new novel as well. In general, Azerbaijani prose, including novel of 1920-30-s has got a number peculiar typological features and one should approach it in the context of indivisible literary artistic process.

Thus the first pieces of Azerbaijani novel appeared since 1930. Their authors were young writers like as A.Abulhassan, Suleyman Rahimov, Mehdi Hussein, Mir Jalal, Ali Valiyev who joined the proletarian literature lately and old writers like M.S.Ordubadi and Y.V.Chamanzaminli who were called "Jighirdash" (pathgoers).

The works which appeared in 1930-31 like "The Ascents" (A.Abulhassan), "Shamo" (S.Rahimov, Ы Volume), "Foggy Tabriz" (M.S.Ordubadi) were the first novels of the new type in Azerbaijani literature. Next years of the decade were written such novels like "The World Breaks Out" (Abulhasan), "Secret Baku", "The Fighting City", "The World Changes" (M.S.Ordubadi), "The Spring of Girls", "Between Two Fires" (Y.V.Camahzaminli), "The Flood", "Tarlan" (M.Hussein), "The Reviving Man", "The Manifest of a Young Man" (M.Jalal),
"Gahraman" (A.Valiyev), "Puttane milano".

Naturally, the first Azerbaijani novels had to have the same tone with the political-ideological atmosphere of the period and they were writing within the literary schemes. Apart from M.S.Ordubadi and Y.V.Chamanzaminli the young writers who formed in the existing political system followed those factors very seriously. They knew the best pieces of the world novel, but the Russian soviet novel had a strong influence on them.

No doubt creation of new Azerbaijani novel is appreciated as a great event of the literature, culture and social life. What peculiarities have creation of new novel in Azerbaijani literature got? We can generalize these peculiarities in following way:

  • Specifity and duties of the genre are defined, thinking of novel, epic tradition form;
  • Though the young novel writers have got unity of subject, they differ in styles;
  • Realities of the new period and characters of human beings reflect wide artistic pictures and moments;
  • Appearing of historical novels form effective and real impressions about our historical past in conscious of every Azerbaijani reader;
  • The Azerbaijani language which confirmed its artistic features in poetry, story, drama emerges with new peculiarities in novel;
  • Azerbaijani novel gets across borders, begins to be translated into other languages and represents Azerbaijani literature abroad;
  • Azerbaijani novel wins popular readers in comparison with other genres and in general a great interest in literature grows, contacts with a book strengthen.

Though the novel of thirties is characartized with its epic scope, weak point of psychologism in those works were obvious. The main attention was paid to behaviour and activity of images. When the first novels were written the strategy of the socialist realism as a theoretical method and conception was preparing. But the literary works as in early thirties as in twenties appeared instinctly in the limit of unwritten orders not only for their subjects, themes, but problems, conflicts, poetics and aesthetics as well.

Specialist in literature M.J.Jafarov noted that in 1920-30-s in Azerbaijan there was no discussion about the socialist realism theoretically. But formation of this method took place in literary practice, works by the writers expressing the soviet reality directly. Advanced writers without any special order decided the socialist realism because of influence of new life and by natural way (1, 69).

That time vulgar sociology embraced all fields of cultural-moral life, even theory of literature and poetics.

History of Azerbaijani literature of the soviet period considered that "honourable and hard way" passed by the proletariat who was the most revolutonary and struggling class was not discribed yet in necessary standart from epic point of view. Its formation, influence of the revolution of 1905-1907 on the movement of freedom, invincible might of the proletariat, October revolution and Aprel "revolution" (1920), civil war, popular movement against foreign conquerors, bourgeois-landowners' ruling were still to be discribed in literature. These subjects were adopted since thirties especially, by novel writers.

Literary critic G.Khalilov in his fundamental research called "On History of Development of Azerbaijani novel" (1973) analysed and discussed the sources, ideological- artistic features of the works written in this genre till the soviet period, the problems of subject, conflict, character, language, style etc. But naturally, G.Khalilov could not overcome the ideology of his times and researched the soviet novels mainly from social-political point of view. He noted that Azerbaijani novel developed mainly in two directions till 1940 and afterwords.

1. The works expressing history of development of the working class ("Shamo", "The World Breaks out", "The Students", "In 1917", "The Fighting City", "Secret Baku", "The Manifest of a Young Man", "Araz", "The Morning") etc.;
2. The works expressing the people's difficulties appeared on the way of creation of new life, socialism, real pictures of the collectivization ("The Ascents", "Gahraman", "Tarlan", "The Open Book", "The Girl with Plait" etc. ). The works about collective-farms, oil-workers' life and other industrial fields were included to this list as well (2, 104-105)

To our mind this division is mechanical and including the novels written in 30-50-s of the last century to such cliche limits the research of the artistic-aesthetic and scientific-theoretical peculiarities of the stage which covers wide literary process of searches and creation.

Generally we think that estimation of the novels "Shamo", "The World Breaks Out" or "The Manifest of a Young Man" from the working class and revolutionary point of view is wrong, isn't it? Especially, including the novels "The Students" and "In 1917" by Y.V.Chamanzaminli to the first division is absurd.

Naturally, some works should be considered as orders of the regime because they expressed the political and ideological content of that soviet period in the limit of the socialist realism. The authors of these works adherering to the marxist position tried to determine "the correct influence" of the revolution on the people, its worldwide importance and they thought that they could express artistic history, desires and wishes of the people in this way.

Nevertheless, we should take into consideration that the novels of 1920-s were distinguisted by using national sources and traditions, poetic merits, expressing feelings and psychology of a Azerbaijani reader. After the Independence a special attention is paid to those mentioned questions in the process of estimation of Azerbaijani soviet literature.

New scientific-theoretical and artistic - aesthetic views on the literature of 1920-50-s have been widely expressed by different specialists in literature: in the book called "History: from Near and Far" by Yashar Garayev, in the books and papers by Bakir Nabiyev, in the monograhps by Himalay Anvaroghlu, Narguiz Pashayeva, Tehran Alishanoghlu.

Though Yashar Garayev noted that in the literature and aesthetic thinking of the mentioned period (1920-1950) namely troubles and problems of the "system", but not of the life, regime, time were raised, at the same time as an anxious scholar and citizen he expressed his objective-theoretical conclusions in such way: "In early thirties best of all big genres of the prose go out to the literary front. Big prosaic forms which are directed to the widest epic discription and analysis of the present, destroyed and born social reality anew directly predominate over the successes of the poetry, dramaturgy. A short story and narrative appear, but the novel carries main weight of the trembling, moving prose on its shoulder. Of course, here one can speak about ruling ideological tendency as well, but it is fact and truth that the tradition of culture of the East and world form in Azerbaijan namely that time" (3, 491).

H. Anvaroglu considers that Azerbaijani novel of 1930-s expresses not only chronological notion, but the whole typological stage as well (4, 123). Generally, modern literary thinking confirms that though preferring to social-political inclinations were demanded from the novel of thirties, searches in the direction of expression of national reality, creation of vivid artistic images, reflexion of pictures of social life, mode of life were carried out, an attention to improvement of Azerbaijani, embodiment of Azerbaijan nature was paid, a number of other factors which made influence upon the national conscious realized.


  1. Jafarov M.C. On the Ways of Art. Baku, "Ganjlik", 1975
  2. Khalilov G. On History of Development of Azerbaijani Novel. Baku, "Elm", 1973
  3. Garayev Y. History: from Near and Far. Baku, "Sabah", 1999
  4. Anvaroghlu H. Problems of Development in Azerbaijani Novel. Baku, "Nurlan", 2008

Author: Rzayev Yashar© Candidate of philological sciences, Azerbaijan State Pedagogical University


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