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La période soviétique : disjonction et développement

Performing as Soviet Central Asia’s Source Texts: Lahuti and Džambul in Moscow, 1935-1936

Katharine Holt
p. 213-238

Résumés

Se produire en tant que textes sources d’Asie centrale : Lahuti et Džambul à Moscou, 1935-1936.

Cet article étudie l’indigénisation de la représentation de l’Asie centrale soviétique dans la littérature russophone, en analysant comment deux figures littéraires centrasiatiques – le poète ‘tadjik’ Abulqasim Lahuti et le conteur kazakh Džambul Džabaev – ont fait l’objet de promotions en langue russe au milieu des années trente. Plus précisément, cet article traite de la canonisation de Lahuti et Džambul au sein du système littéraire soviétique en 1935 et 1936, et avance que ce processus est survenu au moment où chacun se produisait à Moscou et montrait son aptitude à servir le slogan stalinien de l’amitié des peuples, à la fois comme poète de cour ‘traduit’ et comme incarnation de l’Orient, c’est-à-dire en tant que texte source ‘intraduisible’.

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Introduction

  • 1 My conception of ‘insider’ is structural and depends on the ascribed status of being a ‘native’ to (...)
  • 2 In this article I follow Susanna Witt in using the term ‘national’ as a terminological citation fro (...)
  • 3 The Orgkomitet’s resolution is reprinted as «Iz protokola №10 zasedaniâ sekretariata Orgkomiteta ss (...)
  • 4 Indeed, although most of the presentations at the Congress – a number of which were subsequently pu (...)
  • 5 Clark has also commented on the “exponential increase” of material “on or by figures from non-Russi (...)

1During the First Five-Year Plan, Soviet Central Asia was represented in Russian-language literature primarily by ‘outsiders’ with a demonstrated interest in the region.1 Writers such as Leonid Leonov, Konstantin Paustovskij, Pëtr Pavlenko, and Bruno Jasiénski visited the constituent republics and described what they saw in works like Sarančuki [The Locusts] (1930), Kara-Bugaz (1932), Putešestvie v Turkmenistan [Journey to Turkmenistan] (1933), and Čelovek menâet kožu [Man Changes His Skin] (1932-1933). In August 1933, however, the central Soviet literary establishment began to push for greater inclusion of Central Asian ‘insiders’ in their institutions, as well as for the increased visibility of ‘national’ writers, via translation, in Russian-language literature about the Soviet periphery.2 Among the first steps taken by the Writers’ Union was the establishment of a set of national commissions charged with visiting the national republics, collecting literary material about them, strengthening their connection to the Soviet center, and organizing translations of their literatures into Russian (rgali, f. 631, op. 1, d. 33, l. 25-26).3 These national commissions helped the Writers’ Union ensure that its First All-Union Congress, in August 1934, was a multinational celebration, the first major such event in the Stalinist era (Schild, 2010, pp. 163-179; Witt, 2013a, p. 166; Witt, 2013b, p. 144; Clark and Dobrenko, 2007, p. 162).4 Following the Congress, the turn toward national producers was sustained. In keeping with this development, national writers were often brought to Moscow, and, from 1935 onwards, featured heavily in the pages of the central Soviet cultural organs.5 If, as Evgenyi Dobrenko has argued, multinational Soviet literature was “born” in the mid-1930s, the mantle of representational authority for Central Asia was simultaneously passed, at least symbolically, to national cultural producers (Dobrenko, 2011).

  • 6 I here build on Brooks’s argument that public performances in the Stalinist era “solidified the off (...)

2In the pages that follow, I will explore this symbolic transference of representational authority by examining how it was bestowed upon two Central Asian literary figures – the ‘Tajik’ poet Abulqasim Lahuti (generally known in Russian as “Lakhuti”) and the Kazakh bard Džambul Džabaev (he is customarily referred to by his first name only). More specifically, I will discuss how Lahuti and Džambul became trusted representatives of Soviet Central Asia in 1935 and 1936 by demonstrating their ability to perform within Stalin’s imagined community and to affirm the hierarchies embedded within it.6

3The reasons for focusing on Lahuti and Džambul in 1935 and 1936 are twofold. First, at exactly this moment, these two men became the preeminent Central Asian literary figures on the All-Union stage. Other Central Asian writers were brought to Moscow, translated into Russian, and promoted in the Russian-language press as representatives of their national literatures in the mid-1930s. The Tajik prose writer Sadriddin Ayni (1878-1954), for instance, and the Kyrgyz poet Aaly Tokombaev (1904-1988) appeared at the 1934 Writers’ Congress and saw their literary works and speeches translated and printed in Pravda. But Lahuti and Džambul became part of an elite club in 1935 and 1936, as they became representatives not only of their national literatures, but also of the ‘Eastern’ nationalities generally. As such, they had special responsibilities and were especially visible at events within Moscow and within the Soviet press. In this sense, they achieved a status comparable only to that of the Lezgian poet Sulejman Stal’skij (1869-1937), alongside whom they were often published – and with whom they were featured in the Russian-language volume Stal’skii. Džambul. Lakhuti (Višnevskaâ, 1938).

4Second, the pairing is productive. There were important differences in how Lahuti and Džambul operated as “crossmedial cultural phenomena” (Witt, 2013a, p. 149, n47) in the early Soviet era, as I will suggest below. Nevertheless, there was a key commonality in how they performed as both ‘translatable’ court poets and ‘untranslatable,’ or at least ‘imperfectly translatable,’ ambassadors. Even if as Stalinist poets they were ultimately products of the Russian target culture, not their home territories (Dobrenko, 2011), within official Soviet discourse the authors were positioned as authentic human ‘originals’ that could not be Russified: they were the source texts against which the translations published under their names were to be read.

  • 7 Policies of korenizaciâ [indigenization] had been in place in the Central Asian republics since 192 (...)
  • 8 Thus far, the subject of literary translation has largely been absent in studies of Soviet culture, (...)
  • 9 Jeffrey Brooks has argued that the abridged editions of the national reports in Pravda portrayed th (...)

5In making this claim about how Lahuti and Džambul operated in Soviet culture, I aim to: 1) draw attention to how the representation of Soviet Central Asia in Russian-language literature was indigenized in the mid-1930s, even as assimilation was encouraged in other domains7; 2) to shed light on Lahuti’s (hitherto largely neglected) position in Soviet culture; and 3) to provide a new perspective on Džambul, who has recently attracted a significant amount of scholarly attention (Bogdanov, Nikolozi, Murašov, 2013; Witt, 2011; Witt, 2013a; Witt, 2013b; Toury, 2005). In addition, I hope to make a contribution to the intersection of Slavic Studies, Central Asian Studies, and Translation Studies8 by complicating the existing characterization of national authors as “incorporations of their home cultures.”9 Specifically, I wish to demonstrate how, at the moment when the “friendship of peoples” formulation was gaining traction, the physical beings and performances of national authors were paired with their translated literary works – and not just as paratext, but as complementary, equally important text.

6One could argue, as Dobrenko has, that since the national literature created in praise of Stalin in the 1930s was not endowed with the same ‘author function’ as we typically find in twentieth-century Western literature, it is not worth studying individual national authors (Dobrenko, 2011; Foucault, 1998, p. 211). While I would agree that Stalinist literature was not created primarily for the end of personal expression, I would still maintain that Lahuti and Džambul deserve attention as isolated individuals because their specific beings were used to put a Central Asian ‘face’ on the leader’s message and to legitimize the well-publicized translation projects that the Soviet state was championing.

Lahuti in the ussr

  • 10 For discussions of Lahuti’s life before he immigrated to the Soviet Union, see: Zand, 1964; Cronin, (...)
  • 11 In using the term “self-fashioning,” I draw on Greenblatt, 1980 and Greenleaf, 1994.
  • 12 The Russian translation was published in a separate edition as Lakhuti, 1929.

7Born in the city of Kermanshah, in Western Iran, Lahuti (1887-1957) spent the first thirty-five years of his life in Iran and the Ottoman Empire, fighting against the Iranian royalists as a political activist, soldier, journalist, and poet. Lahuti’s final act of Iranian insurgence was leading the Tabriz uprising of 1922 as a major in the gendarmerie. When it was crushed, he crossed the border into Soviet Azerbaijan.10 In 1923, Lahuti arrived in Moscow. His immigration was well timed, as it came on the heels of several Soviet initiatives to revolutionize the ‘East’: the Persian Socialist Soviet Republic (also known as the Soviet Republic of Gilan) had been abandoned just two years before, and the Communist University for the Toilers of the East (kutv), founded in 1921, was thriving. In this new climate, Lahuti did a masterful job building upon the credentials with which he had arrived in the Soviet Union as a foreign, Eastern revolutionary. He quickly established himself as a Party loyalist and a pro-Soviet cultural figure, working his way up in the ranks at the Central Publishing House of the Peoples of the ussr and becoming a Party member not long after his immigration (Lakhuti, 1966, p. 402). Nimbly engaging with the process of poetic self-fashioning, he published a series of poems in the 1920s extolling the Soviet project.11 His most famous work from the period is his 1923 ode to the Kremlin.12

8From Moscow, Lahuti moved to Dushanbe in 1925. There, he drew on his native Persian to inhabit a new role in his adopted homeland: while still serving as an example of a Sovietized foreigner, he also became identified as a specifically ‘Tajik’ cultural figure. As such, Lahuti participated in Tajik agitprop efforts, became a deputy commissar of Narkompros, helped set up the Tajik state publishing house, and wrote the lyrics for the Tajik national anthem (Zael’skaâ, Anonymous, 1977, p. 6; Bečka, 1968, p. 564). While working as a Party functionary, Lahuti continued to compose poetry, in Farsi and Tajik (first in Arabic script, then, after 1928, in Latinized Tajik). Among his works in these years was a series of poems contrasting the political struggles of Iran with the political freedoms of Soviet Tajikistan. Oh Famous Daughter of Iran (1926), a representative text of the period, includes lines such as (in the English translation of Lisa Yountchi):

Oh beautiful peasant girl
Walk with the Tajik villagers
They are free, happy, and laughing
You are slaves in the black hijab.
(Yountchi, 2011, pp. 51-52)

  • 13 Russian-language collections of his work were published in 1932 (Moscow: gikhl), 1933 (Moscow: Sove (...)
  • 14 On Lahuti’s work on the secretariat, see Artizov and Naumov, 1999, pp. 257, 320, and 370.
  • 15 For instance, Lahuti attended and spoke at: the evening of poetry about Lenin from the peoples of t (...)
  • 16 The introduction to the volume was attributed to Lahuti and Vsevolod Ivanov (Sannikov, 1934, p. 3).

9By the end of the 1920s, Lahuti had become canonized as the leading Tajik poet, the counterpoint to the prose writer Ayni. In 1930, Lahuti returned to Moscow. There, he continued to publish poetry in both Tajik and, more important for his visibility across the Union, in Russian translation. His poems were included in almanacs of Tajik literature in translation, such as the Tadžikskij sbornik [Tajik Anthology] (Vel’tman, 1933), and Russian-language volumes of his selected poems appeared in multiple editions throughout the 1930s.13 While cementing his status as a Tajik poet, Lahuti remade himself into a permanent emissary in Moscow of Tajik and Central Asian culture, becoming head of the Tajikistan national commission that was established in August 1933. In this period he also served on the national section of the rsfsr Orgkomitet (Pel’son, 1932), on the All-Union Organizing Committee for the Writers’ Congress (Anonymous, 1932, p. 1; Schild, 2010, pp. 40-44), on the All-Union Pushkin committee in July 1934 (Artizov and Naumov, 1999, p. 219), and as a member of the Soviet delegation at the International Writers’ Congress in Paris in 1935 (ibid., p. 254; Mirskij, 1935, p. 2). Most notably, Lahuti was assigned to the Writers’ Union secretariat, along with just four people: Aleksandr Ŝerbakov (First Secretary), Vladimir Stavskij, Ivan Kulik, and Vsevolod Ivanov. On these commissions, it seems, Lahuti served as the face of the Eastern nationalities, and of Central Asia in particular, while figures like Kulik represented the Western nationalities.14 That Lahuti came to represent not only Tajikistan in the mid-1930s but also Central Asian culture more generally is supported by the fact that he frequently hosted Central Asian cultural delegates when they visited Moscow on fraternal visits15 and gave his stamp to several Central Asia-themed cultural products from the mid-1930s, such as the almanac created by the writers’ brigade to Turkmenistan in the spring of 1934.16

10If Lahuti represented Tajikistan and Central Asia in Moscow in the mid-1930s, he also functioned as a spokesperson for the practice of translation, or, more precisely, for the practice of transposition (perenesenie). In his remarks at the first All-Union Writers’ Congress on the evening of August 20, 1934, Lahuti noted the great progress that had already been made in combating illiteracy in Tajikistan, citing statistics such as the growth in the literacy rate (from 0.5% before the October Revolution to 60% in 1934) and the number of writers (roughly 100) now at work in Tajikistan. Even as he focused on the advancements that had been made, however, Lahuti also emphasized certain shortcomings in the existing Tajik writers. The chief problem, he suggested, was that they had not learned how to adapt their Eastern literary models to the needs of today’s Soviet themes. He continued: “Insufficiently deep knowledge of the Persian classics leads to a mechanical transposition of their images” (Lenevskij, 1990, p. 144). To illustrate this point, Lahuti noted that one Tajik writer had recently written a passage about falling asleep to the pleasant, sweet sound of a tractor, describing it as though it were one of the nightingales so familiar in Eastern literature. Lahuti quoted the offending lines thus:

Gathering cotton, I heard the sounds of the tractor, our dear tractor, the Soviet weaponry of production; it sounded to my ears like the voice of a nightingale, and it was so pleasant, so sweet, that I fell into a dream.
(
Ibid.)

  • 17 Lahuti did not provide a label for the more successful variant in his speech; I propose this counte (...)

11Lahuti did not explain, in his speech, just what was ‘mechanical’ about the cited passage’s adaptation of the Persian image of the nightingale. Presumably, he found the description challenging to the conventions of literary realism (since the situation described was implausible) and ideologically imprecise (since the symbol of the tractor was being equated with the symbol of the nightingale, rather than pitted against it in binary oppositions contrasting work and leisure, new and old). What is clear, however, is that for Lahuti there was a clear line between ‘mechanical’ perenesenie and the more successful variant of this practice, presumably ‘functional’ perenesenie.17

  • 18 For discussions of Lahuti’s poetic practices in his Ottoman phase, see: Lahuti, 1954, p. 141; Karim (...)
  • 19 Samuel Hodgkin provides a nuanced and persuasive reading of how Lahuti put the Kremlin in dialogue (...)

12It is fitting that Lahuti became a vocal advocate for this kind of transposition, for it was central to his work in the Soviet Union. As I suggested in my discussion of Lahuti’s biography, the Iranian poet successfully transposed himself literarily with his moves to Moscow, Tajikistan, and then back to Moscow: he adapted himself – more or less seamlessly – from one literary context to another, refashioning himself as he emigrated. Transposition was not just a critical theme of Lahuti’s biography, however. It was also key to his poetics, which are defined by the conscious repurposing of existing forms. As a boy in Iran, if his autobiography is to be trusted, Lahuti wrote battle cries in the rajaz meter for his friends, drawing on the knights’ songs in Firdausī’s tenth-century Persian epic Shāhnāma [The Book of Kings] for inspiration (Lahuti, 1954, pp. 138-139). Later, when he was writing in exile in Ottoman Turkey, Lahuti made extensive use of preexisting poetic forms and stock images from Persian poetry, such as that of the beloved, of roses, and of “the merciless hunter trapping the wounded nightingale” (in Lahuti’s own description of his pre-Soviet allegorical lyrics) to express radical political statements while using conventional gestures.18 Once he immigrated to the Soviet Union, Lahuti used the practice of transposition to create works that were “Tajik in form, and socialist in content,” to adapt Stalin’s formulation from 1930 to Lahuti’s literary context. The poet’s much-lauded 1923 ode to the Kremlin was written in the style of classical qasidas as a counterpart to Khaqani’s twelfth-century poem The Ruins of Ctesiphon19 (Bečka, 1968, p. 565), while one of Lahuti’s poems from 1933 included an epigraph from the fifteenth-century poet Amir Khusrow, along with an explanatory footnote (Vel’tman, 1933, p. 111). Meanwhile, Lahuti’s long 1932 poem honouring Stalin repurposed Eastern images such as gardeners, sheikhs, and emirs (ibid., pp. 104-109; Yountchi, 2011, p. 48; Bečka, 1968, p. 565).

Lahuti at the Kremlin on December 4, 1935

13As the preceding suggests, Lahuti had achieved a high status within the Soviet literary system as both a ‘Tajik’ poet and a literary functionary by the mid-1930s. I would argue, however, that representational authority for Central Asia was only fully bestowed upon him at the end of 1935, when he appeared at a Kremlin reception honoring collective farm workers from Tajikistan and Turkmenistan who had reached record levels in their cotton production. On the surface, this event was much like others that Lahuti had hosted and attended before. The stakes of this occasion – and the Soviet press coverage devoted to it – were greater, however, for it was here that Stalin first unveiled his “friendship of the peoples” formulation, initiating a new wave of discourse that would become dominant in the coming months (Martin, 2001, p. 437; Anonymous, 1935a). When we analyze the press coverage of this symbolically-weighted performance in greater detail, we can see that Lahuti played, or at least was cast as playing, two roles: as a court poet whose texts could function perfectly in Russian and as an emissary from the East who could not.

  • 20 Translated into Russian as Korona i znamâ, this poem presents itself as a poetic extension of Firda (...)

14Lahuti functioned as a poet by presenting Stalin with a copy of his long narrative poem Crown and Banner20 and (supposedly) composing a quatrain about the event extemporaneously, upon watching the leader receive a hand-woven carpet adorned with Lenin’s portrait. During the reception, several “national-in-form” gifts – including the carpet just mentioned, national costumes, and a Tajik edition of Stalin’s book Questions about Leninism – were presented to Stalin. But the most symbolically significant of the offerings, Pravda and Literaturnaâ gazeta suggested, was Lahuti’s gift of poetry: both papers printed a photograph of Lahuti handing off his poem to the great leader as the one illustration for the event (see annex n° 1). As a poet, the coverage of the event suggested, Lahuti offered value because his authentically ‘other’ idiom was perfectly translatable: even if they carried a patina of ‘Easternness’ and were grounded in the Persian literary tradition, his verses were supposedly uncompromised when rendered into Russian. Thus the ‘extemporaneously-composed’ lines were printed in Russian translation in Literaturnaâ gazeta and Pravda thus:

Kogda glâdel, v tadžikskom ârkom odeân’i,
Na plod svoikh usilij Stalin-bol’ševik,
Iz krasok radužnykh turkmenskogo sozdan’â,
Siââ sčast’em, obraz Lenina voznik

When, in bright Tajik costume,
Stalin the Bolshevik gazed upon the fruit of his efforts,
From the rainbow colors of the Turkmen creation,
The image of Lenin arose and shone with happiness.

(Anonymous, 1935b, p. 1; 1935c, p. 1)

  • 21 Only one footnote was printed, and this was a contextual one about a Tajik figure mentioned in the (...)

15In addition to these lines, three stanzas from Crown and Banner appeared in Literaturnaâ gazeta in a Russian translation attributed to Banu (Lahuti’s wife) without any original source text, any paratextual asides about how their mediation might affect their meaning, or any footnotes suggesting that something was lost in translation.21

  • 22 Transcripts of other events suggest that Lahuti emphasized his foreignness at other events, as well (...)

16While Lahuti’s poetry was translatable, the coverage suggested, he still retained something substantive that could not be rendered into Russian: a core Eastern physicality that could not be translated. Thus we find – in addition to photographs of him handing over his poem to Stalin – a Russian-language translation of Lahuti’s speech prefaced by the claim that it was delivered in Tajik and only then translated into Russian and Turkmen. Within the speech itself, moreover, there are several asides that draw attention to Lahuti’s foreignness. Most notable among these is a claim that Lahuti had needed to call his wife to have his extemporaneous verses rendered into Russian in the midst of the reception. It is very possible that no Tajik (or Persian) version of these verses ever existed, or that Lahuti had already composed the lines before attending the reception, or that there was no telephone call at all. The fact that the printed translation of Lahuti’s speech stressed this, however, is telling: a key part of Lahuti’s performance at the reception, and in the press account of it, was his imperfect command of Russian as a literary language. Despite his clear integration into the Soviet literary bureaucracy, Lahuti was presented first and foremost as a product of the East. 22

17On the one hand, then, Lahuti was shown to be operating in a poetic zone where no limits on language were meaningful: where transposition and translation between literary traditions was effective. On the other hand, it was insinuated that he personally felt the boundaries of his own language and the specificities of his own cultural tradition acutely. The press coverage and circumstances of this reception suggest that Lahuti balanced the two sides of his role at the December 4th reception admirably, code-switching as necessary. Unlike Stalin, who – as Lahuti’s verses stressed – donned Tajik national costume just for the night, in a markedly theatrical gesture, Lahuti sent the signal that he was permanently of both worlds, able to be translatable or not as necessary. Even if he himself did not design the schema, Lahuti helped establish the mold for future ‘national’ poets by demonstrating how one could serve Stalin’s new imagined community of the friendship of the peoples.

Džambul in Moscow in May 1936

  • 23 For examples of Stalinist-era accounts of Džambul’s status as a ‘national poet,’ see Marozov, 1938; (...)
  • 24 Gorky’s words about Stal’skij often appear in discussions of Džambul’s work. See, for instance, Eve (...)
  • 25 Other national cultural producers from around the Union were also promoted using their respective n (...)

18Džambul Džabaev (1846-1945) was cast in his own time as one of the premier bards of the early Soviet era. As such, he has long held the reputation of a Stalinist poet similar to Stal’skij.23 Indeed, since both Džambul and Stal’skij composed oral literature and since both rose to prominence soon after Gorky called Stal’skij “the Homer of the twentieth century” at the 1934 Writers’ Congress, in the Soviet era the two were often compared to one another and to the composer of the Odyssey and Iliad.24 Just as Stal’skij was known in Russian as an ašug, from the word for ‘folk singer’ and ‘storyteller’ in the languages of the Northern Caucasus, Džambul was known as an akyn, from the word for ‘improvising poet’ in Kazakh.25 As such, Džambul was canonized in 1936 as the father of oral Kazakh literature, while his contemporary Abai Kunanbaev (1845-1904) – recently cast back into the spotlight by the Occupy Abai camp established in Moscow in 2012 – received the epithet of “father of written Kazakh literature.”

19Unlike Lahuti, Džambul has received adequate attention by scholars of Soviet multinational literature, especially in the last few years. For this reason, I will not dwell on Džambul’s biography (which anyway remains quite shadowy) or the circumstances that led to his emergence, in 1936, as a preeminent representative of the new republic of Kazakhstan. I will here simply emphasize how different Džambul’s trajectory was from Lahuti’s.

  • 26 Bourdieu, 1993, pp. 89, 72.
  • 27 I use ‘culture planning’ here not merely to evoke the Soviet terminology of the 1920s and 1930s, in (...)
  • 28 The dekadas of art and literature for the national republics, which began with the Kazakh and Ukrai (...)
  • 29 As Witt has noted, the poetry produced under Džambul’s name often betrayed extensive knowledge of p (...)
  • 30 Witt, 2011, p. 154.
  • 31 Maksimenkov, 2005, p. 365.
  • 32 Kostûkhin, 2013, p. 15; Dobrenko, 2013, p. 31.

20It is difficult to chart exactly how consciously Lahuti operated, to know whether he was driven by strategy or a kind of “feel for the game,” in Bourdieu’s terms, which bypassed calculation.26 Clearly, however, Lahuti had more agency than Džambul in the Party-State’s “culture planning.”27 Lahuti, as I have noted, served as a high-level functionary in the Party-State’s cultural apparatus, representing both Tajikistan and Soviet Central Asia writ large. In addition, he could speak Russian, was literate, and was aware of his own strategy of transposing the Persian tradition into his new Tajik and Soviet literary frameworks. The Kazakh bard Džambul, in contrast, was essentially a product of the Party-State’s construction, at least in Russian: his avatar was created after he was chosen as a representative of Kazakh folklore at the first dekada of Kazakh art and literature in Moscow.28 Moreover, Džambul was illiterate, unable to understand Russian (at least according to the biographies of him, which did not explain how the author had nevertheless managed to become well versed in contemporary political discourse29), and already in his nineties when he became a central Soviet literary figure. It would be simplistic to argue that either Lahuti’s or Džambul’s ascension was orchestrated entirely ‘from above’ or ‘from below,’ since their individual goals were entangled with the official goals of the Party-State and since each accrued material gains and consecration from his work:30 Lahuti’s poetic services to the state in the 1930s won him a jubilee in 1933, the Order of Lenin in 1936, and a four-room apartment in the House on the Embankment,31 among other rewards, while Džambul was compensated with the Order of Lenin in 1936, a jubilee in 1938, a Stalin prize in 1941, a large house in his aul, an apartment in Almaty, a car, and four trips to Moscow.32 But certainly their social trajectories were strikingly different.

21For all the contrasts in Lahuti’s and Džambul’s experiences, however, I would argue that in May 1936, when Džambul was first showcased in Moscow, he played a role very similar to the one played by Lahuti in December 1935. Indeed, although the bard Džambul created oral literature, he was promoted just like Lahuti: as a poet whose written lyrics were perfectly translatable into Russian and as a person who could be defined only as an un-Russifiable remnant of the East.

22Džambul’s showcasing in Moscow as a representative of Kazakhstan began on May 7, 1936, when the Russian-language poem Moâ rodina [My Motherland] was published in Pravda under his name and the title “narodnyj akyn (improvizator) Kazakhstana” [national akyn (improviser) of Kazakhstan]. Printed with a paratext of nineteen footnotes glossing Kazakh words, but with no accredited translator and with no label identifying it as a translation, the composition opened thus:

S početom pevca vstrečaet aul.
Pesni poj vo ves’ golos, Džambul!
Prišli i moi numere-šubere*.
– Spoj nam, otec, i sygraj na dombre!
Narod mne nastroil dušu moû,
I â dlâ naroda pesnû poû:

The aul greets the singer with honor,
Sing songs with your full voice, Džambul!
And my numere-shubere* gather:
“Sing for us, father, and play the dombra!”
The people have tuned my soul,
And I sing the people a song:

... Devânosto let tabuny paslis’,
Devânosto let kovyli cveli,
Devânosto let v oblakakh nesli
Pesni svoi žuravli.
Devânosto let stremena zvenât.
Devânosto let sognuli menâ.
Devânosto let â bereg konâ,
Čtob pod’ekhat’ k novym dnâm...

... For ninety years the herds had grazed,
For ninety years the feather grasses bloomed,
For ninety years in the clouds the cranes
Carried their songs.
For ninety years the stirrups have rung.
Ninety years have bent me.
For ninety years I took care of (my) horse,
In order to reach the new days...

Smotrite, – moâ golova seda
Smotrite, – bela moâ boroda,
Smotrite, – v glazakh krov’ n voda:
Mnogo v žizni â vidal.

Look – gray is my head,
Look – white is my beard,
Look – there is blood and water in my eyes:
Much have I seen in life.

Pripev:
Èj, skaži mne, syd’ba-velikan:
Čem že vspomnû â sum-zaman**?
Na serdce ostavili černyj sled
Sem’desât gor’kikh let.

Refrain:
Hey, tell me, great fate:
Why do I remember the sum-zaman**?
On my heart is a black mark
Left by seventy bitter years.

* Numere-šubere – synov’â moego syna i moego vnuka.
** Sum-zaman – gor’koe vremâ.

* Numere-shubere – the sons of my son and my grandson.
** Sum-zaman – bitter time.

(Džambul, 1936b)

  • 33 A similar point was stressed by Altajskij in Literaturnaâ gazeta (Altajskij, 1936, p. 1).

23Susanna Witt argues that this presentation of Moâ rodina – in an unattributed translation, but with footnotes – had “the pragmatic effect of making visible not the translator, but the very status of the text as translation.” The strategy effectively authorized the text as foreign, she continues, noting that “the function of footnotes in these cases seems to be to create the context, the ‘cultural embedding’ of the text, whereas footnotes usually function to decipher meaning for the target audience” (Witt, 2013b, p. 153). In my reading, however, this presentation of the poem has a different effect: it stresses that Džambul’s work is so fully Soviet, so ideologically appropriate, that it functions successfully in Russian and can be used as an introductory guide to Kazakh vocabulary and the history of the Kazakh people.33 The first Russian-language text published under Džambul’s name in Pravda had been explicitly identified as a translation. Published as Pesnâ ot vsej duši [Song from the Bottom of My Heart], in a variant credited to A. Aldan, the text had introduced this Kazakh singer to the Union as someone whose work was mediated by others before it reached the Russian-reading audience (Džambul, 1936a, p. 1). Moâ rodina, however, was bestowed upon Pravda’s readers as though Džambul himself were bilingual and able to use a Kazakh-peppered Russian to explain the bitter and sweet times he had seen. Indeed, this second poem presented Džambul as a wizened spokesman of the Kazakh people, whose body bore the marks of his age and the “seventy bitter years” he spent living in the pre-Revolutionary Kazakh steppe, and who could now speak to listeners around the Union (Džambul, 1936, p. 3).

  • 34 Other articles about Džambul from his jubilee year include Ivanov, 1938 and Platonov, 2011.
  • 35 That the titles of both Lahuti’s and Džambul’s works tended to be in an ‘Oriental’ Cyrillic font un (...)

24From this point on, Džambul’s age was celebrated in the Russian-language press: it proved, in the words of the writer Martin Andersen Nexø on the occasion of the 1938 jubilee celebrating seventy-five years of Džambul’s creative work, that he had spanned “the bridge of a thousand-year-old culture, from the life of nomads to the life of the contemporary, reformed man, of the free Soviet citizen” (Ritman-Fetisov, 1946, p. 12).34 His very face – photographs of which were frequently printed in articles about his work – showed the marks of time on the Kazakh nation. Like it, went the narrative in the Soviet official discourse, Džambul had weathered the Russian imperial period and had been ‘reborn’ in the Soviet era. Thus, collections of his poetry, much like histories of the national republics, tended to be divided into sections, or even volumes, of pre-Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary material. As Džambul was promoted as an accessible witness to history and an embodiment of Kazakhstan, it was emphasized that his ‘I’ spoke for the Kazakh people, that he brought the individual and the collective together as a model national poet. Džambul was so completely an embodiment of his nation, the discourse suggested, that he was always clad in national dress. Indeed, in contrast to Lahuti, whose author photograph in Russian editions of his work showed him in a suit and tie (see annex n° 2), the photographs of Džambul in his published works and on the occasion of his winning awards showed him in traditional clothing (see annexes n° 3 and n° 4).35

25If the publication of Moâ rodina introduced Džambul to the Russian-reading Soviet public as an embodiment of the Kazakh people who brought Kazakhstan into the Russian language and lost little in transcription and translation, Džambul’s celebrated first visit to Moscow emphasized a different point: it stressed that, despite his literary translatability and his ability to speak (in all languages) for the Kazakh nation, Džambul was still a specific, ‘national’ person. Džambul’s anointment as an individual literary emissary, and not just a translatable poet, occurred in May 17-23, 1936. While in the capital, according to the published accounts of his trip, Džambul toured Moscow, met with Stalin, and composed songs about his experiences.

  • 36 The poem also appears, in a nearly identical translation, in Džabaev, 1986, pp. 35-36, as well as i (...)

26Džambul’s song about Lenin’s mausoleum, composed on the occasion of his visit to the site on May 18, 1936, is typical of the cycle. The song, which was repeatedly printed in Russian translation, contains these verses (my English is based on P. Kuznecov’s Russian variant)36:

Prišel â k tebe iz dalekikh stepej,
Prišel k tebe v goluboj Mavzolej.
Bessmertnyj, rodnoj, lûbimyj,
Ne umer ty! Ne ležiš’ v groby.
S živym s toboj govorit Džambul,
I v serdce neset tvoe imâ!

I came to you from the far-off steppes,
I came to you in the blue Mausoleum.
Immortal, dear, beloved,
You did not die! You do not lie in a grave.
Džambul speaks with you, who still lives,
And he carries your name in his heart!

(Džambul, 1938, pp. 70-71)

  • 37 On the sources of the folk songs in Tri pesni o Lenine, see MacKay, 2006.

27In these verses, we see the kind of sacralization of Lenin and his mausoleum which was evident in other works featuring ‘folk’ content from the period, including Dziga Vertov’s renowned 1934 film Tri pesni o Lenine [Three Songs about Lenin], which presents the mausoleum as a kibitka [tent], that can give solace to a mourning Central Asian woman.37 Importantly, however, Džambul’s song is marked as being uttered directly by an individual Central Asian citizen overwhelmed by his encounter with the sublime capital, not as an anonymous work collected by a Russian producer like Vertov. Presented as a transcribed work in Russian translation, rather than a song sung in Kazakh, Džambul’s text is of course mediated. Indeed, as Dobrenko has argued, the works by Džambul that were printed in Russian were in effect works of a collective: they were generally commissioned by one person, assigned by a second, uttered by a third, transcribed by a fourth, translated literally by a fifth, translated artistically by a sixth, edited by a seventh, censored by an eighth, and so on (Dobrenko, 2011). Still, it is important to recognize that Džambul’s text was published as the personal utterance of a non-Russian visitor to Red Square. If Moâ rodina emphasized that Džambul could speak without interference to the Russian-reading public, his well-publicized visit to Moscow and the poems published in its wake emphasized that he was a specific lyrical ‘I’ with a national frame of reference.

Conclusion: Lahuti and Džambul in the Fraternity of National Performers

28Up to this point, I have discussed the work of Lahuti and Džambul in isolation from one another. By way of closing, I would like to touch on the first moment in which they were linked together as the two indigenous voices of Central Asia which had the most representational authority in the Soviet literary system. That moment occurred on May 26, 1936, when Džambul received the Order of the Red Banner of Labour, along with a number of other Kazakh artists, including Kulâš Bajsejtova, Umurzakov, and Kožamkulov. On the occasion of Džambul receiving the Order, Lahuti – who had himself been awarded the Order of Lenin just three months before as a “poet of Tajikistan” – publicly lauded the Kazakh poet with verses. Published in Russian translation, the lines opened with the following directive:

Porkhaj, likuj, svobodnyj solovej,
Nad rozoû sčastlivoû svoej!

Flutter, rejoice, free nightingale,
Over your joyous rose!

(Džabaev, 1986, p. 226)

  • 38 A similar version appears as Gasemu Lakhuti, in Džabaev, 1987, Vol. 2, pp. 36-38. According to the (...)

29In return, Džambul answered Lahuti with his own song, which likewise was translated into Russian and published repeatedly in collections of Džambul’s verse: 38

Gasemu Lakhuti

To Gasem Lakhuti

O družestve pesen na svetlom puti
Tym mne po-farsidski propel, Lakhuti.

Of the friendship of songs on the radiant path
You sang to me in Farsi, Lakhuti.

S otkrytoj dušoj â tvoj golos vstrečaû
I pesnej kazakhskoj tebe otvečaû.

With an open soul I meet your voice
And answer you with a Kazakh song.

Tvoimi ustami tadžikskij narod
Svoô solov’inuû pesnû poet.

Through your lips the Tajik people
Sing their nightingale song.

Moimi slovami kazakhskij narod
Zavetnuû pesnû puskaet v polet.

With my words the Kazakh people
Release their sacred song into flight.

Pod laskovym solncem, v sčastlivye gody
Menâûtsâ pesnâmi naši narody.

Under the gentle sun, in (these) happy years,
Our peoples exchange songs.

Kak lebedi, pesni plyvut v nebesa,
Za nimi rodnye spešat golosa.

Like swans, the songs swim through the skies,
Behind them kindred voices rush.

Prislušajsâ, – v dymnykh gorakh Dagestana
Žurčat rodnikami slova Sulejmana.

Listen – in the smoky mountains of Dagestan
The words of Suleiman babble like springs.

I Ânka, akyn belorysskikh polej,
L’et pesni teplee, čem krik žuravlej.

And Ianka, the bard of the Belorussian fields,
Pours out songs that are warmer than the cry of the cranes.

Zapel ves’ Sovetskij Soûz mnogolikij –
Russkie, tûrki, kazakhi, tadžiki.

The whole, diverse Soviet Union has begun to sing:
Russians, Turks, Kazakhs, Tajiks.

Na prazdnike pesni zveni i cveti,
Firdousi pravnuk – akyn Lakhuti

On the holiday of songs, ring and bloom,
Great-grandchild of Firdausī – bard Lakhuti.

(Džambul, 1938, pp. 61-64)

30Although the song is in name a tribute to Lahuti, what it actually celebrates is the elite fraternity of national poets that facilitates Stalin’s friendship of peoples. Lahuti, Ânka Kupala, Stal’skij and the other unnamed poets who inspire “Russians, Turks, Kazakhs, Tajiks” to sing are worthy of praise, the song suggests, not only because they allow their nations to find their metaphorical nightingales, eagles, streams, and cranes, but also because they contribute to the project of a multinational Soviet literature grounded in a practice of nationalities translation which at once eradicates and emphasizes difference. This project, Džambul’s song suggests in its final verses, allows the Soviet people to move slightly closer to the sublime nature of Stalin, and opens up the possibility that pro-Stalinist songs can exist simultaneously in all languages of the world.

  • 39 In 1937, two anthologies entitled Tvorčestvo narodov SSSR were published. The collection edited by (...)
  • 40 See Witt’s claim that “[w]ithin the nationalities context of the Soviet empire, translation in the (...)

31I dwell on the poetic exchange between Lahuti and Džambul because it demonstrates that, despite the stark differences in their experiences and the contrasts between them as representatives of Soviet Central Asia, they played comparable public roles in the fraternity of national poets serving Stalin’s imaginary community of the friendship of peoples. The publication of this verse exchange in Russian sent a clear sign in official Soviet culture: that the literary figures who best represented Soviet Central Asia were not outsiders, but rather national poets whose songs were translatable, but whose bodies were not. Even if the average reader of Russian-language literature in the Soviet Union did not follow this exchange, it would have been difficult for them to avoid mention of these two figures, who were promoted throughout the Union as the key voices of Soviet Central Asia in the late 1930s. After all, they were published not only in Pravda, Izvestiâ, and Literaturnaâ gazeta in Russian translation, but also in the major collections of national Soviet literature, including the 1937 volume Tvorčestvo narodov sssr [Art of the Peoples of the ussr], one of the first literary collections of ‘national’ literature from around the Union,39 and the 1937 collection Stalinskaâ konstituciâ v poèzii narodov sssr [The Stalinist Constitution in the Poetry of the Peoples of the ussr], whose editors first praised the “[m]agnificent, elegant, refined Iranian forms, constructed on symbolism and allegory” of Lahuti and “the ancient poetic forms” of Džambul before enumerating the worthy features in any other national poet’s work (Musaelân, 1937, p. 6). Although they were part of a larger fraternity of national poets, these two Soviet Central Asian ‘source texts’ were in a league of their own. However conscious these two men were of their place in the larger Soviet culture, they helped facilitate the creation of new Russian-language myths about Central Asia (and, perhaps, the eradication of existing cultural traditions40) by ushering in the era of Stalinist ‘nationalities translation,’ helping indigenize the representation of Soviet Central Asia in Russian-language literature, and establishing a precedent for how national authors would function as translated writers and emissaries within the multinational Soviet literary system.

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Notes

1 My conception of ‘insider’ is structural and depends on the ascribed status of being a ‘native’ to Central Asia (broadly construed to include Iran and other Persian-speaking territories outside Tajikistan), rather than the achieved status of being an expert on the region. In developing my conception of ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders, I drew on El Guindi, 2004 and Merton, 1972.

2 In this article I follow Susanna Witt in using the term ‘national’ as a terminological citation from the historical material, which often uses the noun nacional and its corresponding adjective nacional’nyj to refer to persons of non-Russian ethnicity (Witt, 2013b, p. 146, n19). Hereafter the term will not appear in quotation marks.

3 The Orgkomitet’s resolution is reprinted as «Iz protokola №10 zasedaniâ sekretariata Orgkomiteta ssp sssr», 27 August 1933, in Gorâeva, 2011, pp. 262-269. Other comparable, but less visible, steps included the creation of the Bureau of Translated Literature in 1932, the publication of a series of articles calling for more attention to the Central Asian literatures in Literaturnaâ gazeta [Literary Journal] in the fall of 1933, and the establishment of the Russian-language periodical Literatura Srednej Azii [Literature of Central Asia] in November 1933.

4 Indeed, although most of the presentations at the Congress – a number of which were subsequently published in Pravda – were delivered in Russian, forty-eight percent of the delegates at the Congress wrote in languages other than Russian. (Brooks, 2000, p. 277, n49; Schild, 2010, pp. 163-179.) Reports on Ukrainian, Belorussian, Georgian, Uzbek, ‘Azerbaijano-Turkish,’ Turkmen, Tajik, Tatar, and Bashkir literature appeared in Pravda between August 20, 1934 and August 24, 1934. (Witt, 2013b, p. 144, n11).

5 Clark has also commented on the “exponential increase” of material “on or by figures from non-Russian nationalities” around this time (Clark, 2011, p. 289). In Pravda, for instance, translations of ‘folk’ poems from the Caucasus and, above all, Central Asia began to appear more and more frequently beginning in April 1935. As Witt has pointed out, the works would generally appear under the heading ‘Tvorčestvo narodov sssr’ [Art of the Peoples of the ussr] and often were supplied with paratext, such as footnotes, photographs, or articles about different folk traditions. (Witt, 2013b, p. 146).

6 I here build on Brooks’s argument that public performances in the Stalinist era “solidified the official order by justifying hierarchies” (Brooks, 2000, p. 84).

7 Policies of korenizaciâ [indigenization] had been in place in the Central Asian republics since 1923, and in fact were largely fading from view in the early 1930s (see Martin, 2001). When it came to representation within the Soviet literary centre and within Russian literature, however, indigenization came relatively late, as did press coverage of non-Russian nationalities. As Brooks has noted, in the mid-1930s the Soviet press showed national figures performing the same roles that Russian activists had been playing throughout the late 1920s and early 1930s (Brooks, 2000, p. 114).

8 Thus far, the subject of literary translation has largely been absent in studies of Soviet culture, as Witt has noted repeatedly (Witt, 2011, p. 151, n3; Witt, 2013a, p. 156; Witt, 2013b, p. 141). Recent, and very welcome, studies of the relationship between translation practices and Soviet culture include Witt’s own work on the subject; Clark, 2011; Zemskova, 2013. The volume planned by the organizers of the 2014 conference “Translation in Russian Contexts: Transcultural, Translingual and Transdisciplinary Points of Departure” will undoubtedly help fill this scholarly lacuna, as will further work on Soviet Central Asian literature by scholars such as Samuel Hodgkin and Lisa Yountchi.

9 Jeffrey Brooks has argued that the abridged editions of the national reports in Pravda portrayed the national writers “as artists who incorporated their national identities in themselves rather than in their works or literary resonance with any audience” (Brooks, 1994, p. 984).

10 For discussions of Lahuti’s life before he immigrated to the Soviet Union, see: Zand, 1964; Cronin, 2004; Lakhuti, 1966; Lahuti, 1954; Yountchi, 2011.

11 In using the term “self-fashioning,” I draw on Greenblatt, 1980 and Greenleaf, 1994.

12 The Russian translation was published in a separate edition as Lakhuti, 1929.

13 Russian-language collections of his work were published in 1932 (Moscow: gikhl), 1933 (Moscow: Sovetskaâ literatura), 1934 (Tashkent: Ob”edinenie gos. izd-v. Sredneaziatskoe otd.), 1936 (Moscow: gikhl), 1937 (Stalinabad: Tadžikgiz and Moscow: gikhl), and 1938 (Stalinabad: Tadžikskoe gos. izd-vo).

14 On Lahuti’s work on the secretariat, see Artizov and Naumov, 1999, pp. 257, 320, and 370.

15 For instance, Lahuti attended and spoke at: the evening of poetry about Lenin from the peoples of the Soviet Union in February 1934 (Anonymous, 1934a, p. 4); the evening of Kazakh literature hosted at the Writers Union’ Orgkomitet on March 17, 1934 (Anonymous, 1934b, p. 1); the evening of Tajik art that was hosted at the House of the Soviet Writer on September 2, 1934 (Anonymous, 1934c, p. 1); the evening of Kyrgyz poetry that was held on December 2, 1936 (rgali, f. 631, op. 6, ed. khr. 99, l. 17-25); and the evening at the House of the Soviet Writer in honor of the Uzbek dekada of May 1937 (Anonymous, 1937a, p. 3).

16 The introduction to the volume was attributed to Lahuti and Vsevolod Ivanov (Sannikov, 1934, p. 3).

17 Lahuti did not provide a label for the more successful variant in his speech; I propose this counterpoint based on the oppositions found in the Soviet discourse about korenizaciâ (Martin, 2001, p. 144).

18 For discussions of Lahuti’s poetic practices in his Ottoman phase, see: Lahuti, 1954, p. 141; Karimi-Hakkak, 1995, pp. 188-202; Sčetčikova, 2010, pp. 59-60. Karimi-Hakkak and Sčetčikova both focus attention on Lahuti’s striking transposition of the image of the beloved in his 1918 work Ba dukhtarān-i Īrān [To the Daughters of Iran]; Karmi-Hakkak also provides an English translation of the poem.

19 Samuel Hodgkin provides a nuanced and persuasive reading of how Lahuti put the Kremlin in dialogue with “the quintessential ruin of Persian classicism” and provided a template for committed Soviet Central Asian literature (Hodgkin, undated).

20 Translated into Russian as Korona i znamâ, this poem presents itself as a poetic extension of Firdausī’s Shāhnāma, and positions a battle between brigades at a Tajik kolkhoz as an extension of the battle to recover the Persian crown from Turkic Turanians in the pre-modern period. A passage from the epic, presented under the title ‘Crown,’ serves as both a proof text and a prologue for the body of the poem, which appeared under the heading ‘Banner.’ The connection between Lahuti’s text and the Shāhnāma is further emphasized by the shared meter and shared motifs of the two poems: both are comprised of mathnawī, with an alternating paired rhyme scheme that contains ten to eleven syllables per line, and Lahuti’s epos frequently employs images – such as the warrior lion – that are common in Firdausī’s text. (Yountchi, 2011, p. 75; Bečka, 1968, p. 565).

21 Only one footnote was printed, and this was a contextual one about a Tajik figure mentioned in the poem, not something about how the original language operated.

22 Transcripts of other events suggest that Lahuti emphasized his foreignness at other events, as well. At a reception later the same week in December 1935, for instance, Lahuti gave a speech peppered with allusions, such as «kak govoriât po-russki» [as they say in Russian], to the fact that Russian was not his native language. (rgali, f. 3256, op. 1, no. 102, l. 1b).

23 For examples of Stalinist-era accounts of Džambul’s status as a ‘national poet,’ see Marozov, 1938; Lugovskoj, 1938; Ritman-Fetisov, 1946.

24 Gorky’s words about Stal’skij often appear in discussions of Džambul’s work. See, for instance, Eventov, 1939, pp. 70-71.

25 Other national cultural producers from around the Union were also promoted using their respective national terms for ‘folk singer.’ The ‘national singers’ were considered as a kind of united fraternity in the official discourse, as is evident in Iventov’s article «Pesni Džambula» [Džambul’s Songs], which appeared in the edition of Džambul’s work that was produced as a manual for clubs and libraries. Iventov writes: “In the work of the national bards and poets – of the Caucasian ašugi, the Uzbek bakhši, the Kazakh storytellers and akyny, the Karelian kanele players and others – the remarkable processes of the development of Soviet art are expressed especially vividly” (Iventov, 1938, p. 23).

26 Bourdieu, 1993, pp. 89, 72.

27 I use ‘culture planning’ here not merely to evoke the Soviet terminology of the 1920s and 1930s, in which the Party-State’s projects were overtly described as being ‘planned.’ I also use this phrasing to invoke the concept developed by Gideon Toury and built upon by Susanna Witt. Toury defines culture planning as “any attempt made by an individual, or a small group, to incur changes in the cultural repertoire, and the ensuing behaviour, of a much larger group” and argues that pseudo-translations were created under Džambul’s name in an act of planning “from above” (Toury, 2005, pp. 9, 15).

28 The dekadas of art and literature for the national republics, which began with the Kazakh and Ukrainian festivals in the spring of 1936, continued with the Uzbek dekada in 1937 (Brooks, 2000, p. 96; Lipkin, 1997, pp. 467-9; Žovtis, 1995; Witt, 2011, p. 164; Allworth, 1964, p. 154). Džambul was chosen only after Maimbet, the akyn originally summoned to the Soviet capital, was impossible to locate – apparently because he was a fabrication of the Russian translator Pavel Kuznetsov (Witt, 2011, p. 160; Witt, 2013b, p. 149; Bogdanov, 2013, pp. 6-7; Žovtis, 1995). Although Džambul was eventually promoted as an extraordinary akyn, his selection as such was in a sense arbitrary. Unlike Lahuti, who created a role in Soviet culture himself, Džambul was elected to play an existing part.

29 As Witt has noted, the poetry produced under Džambul’s name often betrayed extensive knowledge of political discourse, which underlines the fact that the texts published under his name did not entirely belong to his poetic imagination, constrained as it was by his illiteracy (Witt, 2011, pp. 158-160). Indeed, Russian-language ‘translations’ like Pesnâ o zerne [Song about Corn] (1937), which mentions the Soviet Turksib railway and its benefits to corn production, and Pesnâ o bol’šom karavane [Song about the Great Caravan] (1937), about the Soviet federation, from our contemporary perspective seem clearly to point back to the teams of ‘transcribers’ and ‘translators’ who collaborated on the creation of Džambul’s texts. On the mediating figures who helped produce Džambul’s work in Russian, see, among other sources, Dobrenko, 2011; Dobrenko, 2013.

30 Witt, 2011, p. 154.

31 Maksimenkov, 2005, p. 365.

32 Kostûkhin, 2013, p. 15; Dobrenko, 2013, p. 31.

33 A similar point was stressed by Altajskij in Literaturnaâ gazeta (Altajskij, 1936, p. 1).

34 Other articles about Džambul from his jubilee year include Ivanov, 1938 and Platonov, 2011.

35 That the titles of both Lahuti’s and Džambul’s works tended to be in an ‘Oriental’ Cyrillic font underlines the fact that the two remained Central Asian and Eastern to the rest of the Union, with more similarities than differences.

36 The poem also appears, in a nearly identical translation, in Džabaev, 1986, pp. 35-36, as well as in Džabaev, 1987, pp. 33-34.

37 On the sources of the folk songs in Tri pesni o Lenine, see MacKay, 2006.

38 A similar version appears as Gasemu Lakhuti, in Džabaev, 1987, Vol. 2, pp. 36-38. According to the commentary in Džabaev, 1987, the transcriber of this song is unknown, but it was translated by K. Altajskij. (Džabaev, 1987, p. 191). In some other variants, the song is entitled Kasymu Lakhuti (Džabaev, 1986, pp. 37-38).

39 In 1937, two anthologies entitled Tvorčestvo narodov SSSR were published. The collection edited by gikhl featured works by individual ‘national’ poets, including Lahuti, Stal’skij, and Džambul, about the Stalinist constitution, as well as unaccredited ‘national’ works (Anonymous, 1937b). The collection published by Pravda and edited by Gor’kij and Mekhlis – and Stetskii, though he was removed from the title page – published folklore from around the Soviet Union, without any authorial or translator attribution (Gor’kij and Mekhlis, 1937).

40 See Witt’s claim that “[w]ithin the nationalities context of the Soviet empire, translation in the final analysis amounted to an annihilation of the original, if the latter is understood in terms of genuine cultural traditions” (Witt, 2013a, p. 185).

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Katharine Holt, « Performing as Soviet Central Asia’s Source Texts: Lahuti and Džambul in Moscow, 1935-1936 », Cahiers d’Asie centrale, 24 | 2015, 213-238.

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Katharine Holt, « Performing as Soviet Central Asia’s Source Texts: Lahuti and Džambul in Moscow, 1935-1936 », Cahiers d’Asie centrale [En ligne], 24 | 2015, mis en ligne le 10 mars 2016, consulté le 28 juillet 2017. URL : http://asiecentrale.revues.org/2939

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Auteur

Katharine Holt

Katharine Holt earned her Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Columbia University in 2013 and is now a Lecturer in Russian at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. Her research interests include 20th- and 21st-century Russian literature, Soviet culture and history, translation studies, and Central Asian studies. Her most recent publications are: “Collective Authorship and Platonov’s Socialist Realism,” Russian Literature 73 (1/2), 2013: 57-83, and «Prostranstvennyj obraz tkani v ‘Ûvenil’nom more’ A. Platonova» [The Spatial Image of the Web in Andrei Platonov’s The Sea of Youth], in Evgenij Âblokov (ed.), Poètika Andreâ Platonova. Sbornik 1, 82-102. Contact: kmh21@st-andrews.ac.uk

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