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Azerbaijani literature (Azerbaijani: Azərbaycan ədəbiyyatı) refers to the literature written in Azerbaijani, which currently is the official state language of the Republic of Azerbaijan and is widely spoken in northwestern Iran and eastern Turkey. Azerbaijani is a dialect of the Oghuz branch of Turkic languages, and as such, is mutually intelligible with other Oghuz dialects spoken in Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Russia, Balkans and Middle East.
The earliest known figure in Azerbaijani literature was Izzeddin Hasanoglu, who composed a divan consisting of Persian and Turkic ghazals. In Persian ghazals he used his pen-name, while his Turkic ghazals were composed under his own name of Hasanoghlu.
In the 14th century, Azerbaijan was under the control of Qara Qoyunlu and Aq Qoyunlu Turkic tribal confederacies. Among the poets of this period were Kadi Burhan al-Din, Haqiqi (pen-name of Jahan-shah Qara Qoyunlu), and Habibi. The end of the 14th century was also the period of starting literary activity of Imadaddin Nesimi, one of the greatest Turkic Hurufi mystical poets of the late 14th and early 15th centuries and one of the most prominent early Divan masters in Turkic literary history, who also composed poetry in Persian and Arabic.
The book Dede Qorqud which consists of two manuscripts copied in the 16th century, was not written earlier than the 15th century. It is a collection of twelve stories reflecting the oral tradition of Oghuz nomads. Since the author is buttering up both the Aq Qoyunlu and Ottoman rulers, it has been suggested that the composition belongs to someone living between the Aq Qoyunlu and Ottoman Empire. Geoffery Lewis believes an older substratum of these oral traditions dates to conflicts between the ancient Oghuz and their Turkish rivals in Central Asia (the Pechenegs and the Kipchaks), however this substratum has been clothed in references to the 14th-century campaigns of the Aq Qoyunlu Confederation of Turkic tribes against the Georgians, the Abkhaz, and the Greeks in Trabzon.
The 16th-century poet, Muhammed Fuzuli produced his timeless philosophical and lyrical Qazals in Arabic, Persian, and Azerbaijani. Benefiting immensely from the fine literary traditions of his environment, and building upon the legacy of his predecessors, Fizuli was to become the leading literary figure of his society. His major works include The Divan of Ghazals and The Qasidas.
In the 16th century, Azerbaijani literature further flourished with the development of Ashik (Azerbaijani: Aşıq) poetic genre of bards. During the same period, under the pen-name of Khatāī (Arabic: خطائی for sinner) Shah Ismail I wrote about 1400 verses in Azerbaijani, which were later published as his Divan. A unique literary style known as qoshma (Azerbaijani: qoşma for improvisation) was introduced in this period, and developed by Shah Ismail and later by his son and successor, Shah Tahmasp and Tahmasp I.
In the span of the 17th century and 18th century, Fizuli's unique genres as well Ashik poetry were taken up by prominent poets and writers such as Qovsi of Tabriz, Shah Abbas Sani, Agha Mesih Shirvani, Nishat, Molla Vali Vidadi, Molla Panah Vagif, Amani, Zafar and others.
Along with Anatolian Turks, Turkmens and Uzbeks, Azerbaijanis also celebrate the epic of Koroglu (from Azerbaijani: kor oğlu for blind man's son), a legendary hero or a noble bandit of the Robin Hood type. Several documented versions of Koroglu epic remain at the Institute for Manuscripts of the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan.
The nineteenth century onward
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Soviet Azerbaijani literature
Under the Soviet rule, particularly during Joseph Stalin's reign, Azerbaijani writers who did not conform to the party line were persecuted. Bolsheviks sought to destroy the nationalist intellectual elite established during the short-lived Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, and in the 1930s, many writers and intellectuals were essentially turned into mouthpieces of Soviet propaganda.
Although there were those who did not follow to the official party line in their writings. Among them were Mahammad Hadi, Abbas Sahhat, Huseyn Javid, Abdulla Shaig, Jafar Jabbarly, and Mikayil Mushfig, who in their search for a means of resistance, turned to the clandestine methodologies of Sufism, which taught spiritual discipline as a way to combat temptation.
When Nikita Khrushchev came to power in 1953 following Stalin's death, the harsh focus on propaganda began to fade, and writers began to branch off in new directions, primarily focused on uplifting prose that would be a source of hope to Azerbaijanis living under a totalitarian regime.
Iranian Azerbaijani literature
An influential piece of post-World War II Azerbaijani poetry, Heydar Babaya Salam (Greetings to Heydar Baba) was written by Azeri poet Mohammad Hossein Shahriar who had already established himself as a notable. This poem, published in Tabriz in 1954 and written in colloquial Azerbaijani, became popular among Iranians and the people of Azerbaijan. In Heydar Babaya Salam, Shahriar expressed his identity as an Iranian Azerbaijani attached to his homeland, language, and culture. Heydar Baba is a hill near Khoshknab, the native village of the poet.
Influences on Azerbaijani literature
Persian and Arabic literature have greatly influenced Azerbaijani literature, especially in its classical phase. Amongst poets who have written in Persian and have influenced Azerbaijani literature, one can mention Ferdowsi, Sanai, Hafiz, Saadi, Attar, and Rumi. Arabic literature, especially the Quran and Prophetic sayings, has also played a major role in influencing Azerbaijani literature. Amongst poets who have written in Arabic and have influenced Azerbaijani literature, one can mention Mansūr al-Hallāj who has had a wide ranging influence in the Sufic literature of the Islamic world.
Notes and references
- Beale, Thomas William; Keene, Henry George (1894). An Oriental Biographical Dictionary. W. H. Allen. p. 311.
- A.Caferoglu, "Adhari(Azeri)",in Encyclopedia of Islam, (new edition), Vol. 1, (Leiden, 1986)
- Tyrrell, Maliheh S. (2001). http://books.google.com/books?id=h4N_dneMybQC&pg=PA12
|chapterurl=missing title (help). Aesopian Literary Dimensions of Azerbaijani Literature of the Soviet Period, 1920-1990. Lexington Books. p. 12. ISBN 0-7391-0169-2.
- Průšek, Jaroslav (1974). Dictionary of Oriental Literatures. Basic Books. p. 138.
- Baldick, Julian (2000). Mystical Islam: An Introduction to Sufism. I. B. Tauris. p. 103. ISBN 1-86064-631-X.
- Burrill, Kathleen R.F. (1972). The Quatrains of Nesimi Fourteenth-Century Turkic Hurufi. Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG. ISBN 90-279-2328-0.
- Lambton, Ann K. S.; Holt, Peter Malcolm; Lewis, Bernard (1970). The Cambridge History of Islam. Cambridge University Press. p. 689. ISBN 0-521-29138-0.
- "Seyid Imadeddin Nesimi". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Archived from the original on 18 January 2008. Retrieved 01-09 2008.
- Babinger, Franz (2008). "Nesīmī, Seyyid ʿImād al-Dīn". Encyclopaedia of Islam. Brill Online. Retrieved 01-09 2008 author=.
- Michael E. Meeker, "The Dede Korkut Ethic", International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 24, No. 3 (Aug., 1992), 395-417. excerpt: The Book of Dede Korkut is an early record of oral Turkic folktales in Anatolia, and as such, one of the mythic charters of Turkish nationalist ideology. The oldest versions of the Book of Dede Korkut consist of two manuscripts copied in the 16th century. The twelve stories that are recorded in these manuscripts are believed to be derived from a cycle of stories and songs circulating among Turkic peoples living in northeastern Anatolia and northwestern Azerbaijan. According to Lewis (1974), an older substratum of these oral traditions dates to conflicts between the ancient Oghuz and their Turkish rivals in Central Asia (the Pecheneks and the Kipchaks), but this substratum has been clothed in references to the 14th-century campaigns of the Aq Qoyunlu Confederation of Turkic tribes against the Georgians, the Abkhaz, and the Greeks in Trebizond. Such stories and songs would have emerged no earlier than the beginning of the 13th century, and the written versions that have reached us would have been composed no later than the beginning of the 15th century. By this time, the Turkic peoples in question had been in touch with Islamic civilization for several centuries, had come to call themselves "Turcoman" rather than "Oghuz," had close associations with sedentary and urbanized societies, and were participating in Islamized regimes that included nomads, farmers, and townsmen. Some had abandoned their nomadic way of life altogether.
- Cemal Kafadar(1995), "in Between Two Worlds: Construction of the Ottoman states", University of California Press, 1995. Excerpt: "It was not earlier than the fifteenth century. Based on the fact that the author is buttering up both the Aq Qoyunlu and Ottoman rulers, it has been suggested that the composition belongs to someone living in the undefined border region lands between the two states during the reign of Uzun Hassan (1466-78). G. Lewis on the hand dates the composition "fairly early in the 15th century at least"."
- İlker Evrim Binbaş,Encyclopaedia Iranica, "Oguz Khan Narratives" , accessed October, 2010. "The Ketāb-e Dede Qorqut, which is a collection of twelve stories reflecting the oral traditions of the Turkmens in the 15th-century eastern Anatolia, is also called Oḡuz-nāma"
- Minorsky, Vladimir (1942). "The Poetry of Shah Ismail". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 10 (4): 1053. doi:10.1017/S0041977X00090182.
- Samuel, Geoffrey; Gregor, Hamish; Stutchbury, Elisabeth (1994). http://books.google.com/books?id=n74KAAAAYAAJ&pgis=1
|chapterurl=missing title (help). Tantra and Popular Religion in Tibet. International Academy of Indian Culture and Aditya Prakashan. p. 60. ISBN 81-85689-68-7.
- Tyrrell, Maliheh S. (2001). http://books.google.com/books?id=h4N_dneMybQC&pg=PA24#PPA24,M1
|chapterurl=missing title (help). Aesopian Literary Dimensions of Azerbaijani Literature of the Soviet Period, 1920-1990. Lexington Books. p. 24. ISBN 0-7391-0169-2.
- The Book of Dede Korkut (English translation)
- "Literature" by Azeri.org
- Azeri Literature
- Azerbaijani Literature and Authors, part of Virginia Tech University Libraries Slavic, East European, and Former USSR Resources page
- Aesopian literary dimensions in Azerbaijani literature of the Soviet period, 1920--1990, by Maliheh Shams Tyrrell, Columbia University, Faculty Advisor: Edward Allworth, Date: 1999
- The Institute of Literature named after Nizami of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences
- The Use of Spoken Russian in Azerbaijani Literature, by Andreas Tietze, Slavic Review, Vol. 22, No. 4 (Dec., 1963), pp. 727–733
- Azeribooks project of the United States Public Affairs Section
- Azerbaijan National Bibliography (1987-1991)
- Kocharli, Nigar: "The Business of Literature in Azerbaijan" in the Caucasus Analytical Digest No. 14