Trans Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 16. Nr. April 2006

11.1. Médias et médiations, processus et communautés
Herausgeber | Editor | Éditeur: Pascal Lardellier (Université de Bourgogne, Dijon, France)

Dokumentation | Documentation | Documentation

Theory of Dominants as Premises of Innovation of Literary Texts

Rahilya Geybullayeva (Baku Slavic University) [BIO]



The main issue I will examine is how different factors, that are becoming dominant across history, affect the contours of any national literature, with particular reference to the Azerbaijani literature. It will help to find out previously established tendencies and new features, not only those intrinsic to the Soviet period, but also why and how other period’s canons change, preserve old or acquire new shapes, as new styles and traditional writing merge. Throughout history, each national literature has adopted new styles in response to changing cultural factors and context. I hope to examine what contributed to the updating of literary types within a national literature throughout Azerbaijani history, to evaluate how each of those factors has affected Azerbaijani literature.



Dominants in literature and culture

Within the literature of one nation there is a variety of literary types. Investigation of these types is one of the aspects of the dominants theory of culture and literature. As in any national literature, the contours of all modern national literatures are defined not only by the modern dominant and the conditions of the world literary processes, but also by how they developed from significant or imperceptible traces of the previous dominants.

There are different dominants that determine the basic orientation in each literary universality and numerous potential ramifications in the cultural affiliation for all people. Different historical periods change the maps of countries as a result of wars, colonization, migration and the finding of new places of abode, which later may become countries. Some of the tribes became predominant, joining others around them. As result of that, the hegemonic tribe imposes its culture, at the same time the hegemonic culture exposes itself to the influence of the peripheral culture. Different cultures meet in different periods of history, keeping their previous traditions alive, yet coexisting with new realities, shaping new contours of their national identity and their culture. This is one of the main reasons, why now most nations are made up of different ethnicities, which sometimes still oppose each other, even in developed countries.

The various dominantfactors, which determine various types of cultures and literatures, include genetic-patrimonial, historical-social, cultural, regional-geographic, philosophic-religious-ideological universalities. A question about the attributes of a new universality appears during the inclusion of the literature in a new historical-cultural context, while remaining in various ways the carrier of the former dominants. In this view, national literatures would be treated on a diachronic, and a synchronic axis. What kind of dominants, appreciable historical and cultural changes, or collateral influences generated responding aspects of innovation in literary types and the criteria and conception of national literature? This direction of research helps to find methodological considerations for innovations in literary and cultural types, and examines why in any culture it is frequently impossible to separate "own" from "another’s".

In every case when a new ethnos is formed, their traditions are not always distributed to the whole nation and, quite often, their cultural traditions are being kept apart. So, cultural and social mechanisms expand the literary field, reshaping some of the values and meanings. We will stress ideology as dominant during the Soviet period, which brought a new literary type, which began to connect separate nations in the state as well as in culture. At the start of XX century, Azerbaijani literature was drawn into the influence zone of the Soviet Union. At the end of the XX. century destroying the state and losing reason, characterized the art, literature and culture. This historical event coincides with the boundary of two millennia. This is the reason for analyzing the past of literature, the contexts in which it has formed throughout history, to understand the new situation which will bring new peculiarities.

Literatures quite often intermingle and cross-fertilize each other by virtue of a variety of socio-historical processes. Belonging to one national environment and but being in no less close contact to other national environments is an experience which can be observed during times of historical changes. The concrete national environment with an existing heritage rotates inside the borders changed in a various degree during each new epoch and undergoes changes. As these circumstances affect the culture and, in particular, literature, we will try to consider the example of various dominants of the Azerbaijani literature.

Elements of the contents and the new dominant.Different unique cultures in relation to the Soviet period.

That the mutual relations of the literature between different nations within one state, Soviet Union, come on to an end at the meeting of two millennia provides interesting material for research. In this context the Soviet period could be characterized as one of historical and cultural types in the civilization of the XX century of the second millenium.

The basic principle of the Soviet society was its Marxist-Leninist ideology which formed the basis of society. The literary method of socialist realism developed on the same basis. These new tendencies have resulted not only in irreversible losses which are inevitable at any modernisation, but but also have enriched the culture and literature with new characteristic directions, since J. Jabbarly (at the beginning of XX century) and J.Samed-oglu at the end.

The literature of this period, on the one hand, became a mirror of changes of the Azerbaijani society; the new elements have included a new bilinguality (this time the second language of the Azerbaijani literature became Russian). But it, as well as other national literatures of this period, has kept its national features, as that was proclaimed as one of main principles of a new literary method ("the contents - socialist, the form - nationalist").

Except for the language factor, elements of content, for example, archetypes, such as Pontuy Pylat by Aytmatov, symbols, motives, folklore of different peoples, and forms, including style, genres, the metrics, or belonging to a current not peculiar to the literature of the author. For example, the western existentialism and a situation of a moral choice in the Soviet literature, are exposed to various changes, changing at times the initial borrowed variant.

That national literatures develop their unique cultures in relation to the Soviet period and a world history and culture, and, accordingly, each of these layers can be considered as separate type of literature. In this situation the Soviet literature is the literary type that has given a typological universality to a lot of literatures at a certain stage of history. Each chronological type, on the one hand, is a part of a civilization and of the world literary process of that epoch, on the other hand, remains a part of system of one national literature.

The people of fifteen republics, kept their national culture, and traditions, but during almost one whole century formed part of the uniform state, and therefore had to also relate with the common character traits, mentality, and habits of that uniform state. Our former fellow citizens without referring to the color of the skin, or a slant of eyes, can now be called "Caucasian", "Slavic", "Central Asian" nationalities; nationalities which are now recognized abroad. The former "Soviet" German, doubtlessly having a similarity of genetic features with German people abroad, has in the meanwhile been recognized as a former compatriot.

The dominant of a new literary universality and the universality of attributes. The Local and the Common

The integrating phenomenon, forming a new literary universality, began as the socialist ideology. That became the next stage in the further development of the national literatures at the beginning of XX century, having united the national literatures of the nations forming the USSR, and has led to the formation of a new literary universality. To say that this became an especially negative phenomenon for these literatures, as it is quite often done after the end of the USSR, would do this literature an injustice. Features of the Azerbaijani literature of XX century except for the 17 years of the beginning of a century and last 2 decades of the end directly are related to the Soviet period.

As sometimes occurs in Islam, and in different arts Christianity, as well as the philosophy for the old Indian drama, the new ideology has accelerated the development not only of already developed literatures, " digesting" selected elements of new influence under the laws of its own, already developed tradition. In each context, and not only in the Soviet context, but also in the Muslim and Romance context, it is possible to argue not only about a dominant line of literature, but also about isolated features of the national literature and to argue as about local, and national specific features.

The war against German fascists in the middle of XX century, displays the battle stage of the Soviet literature, a historical universality of this event, as in "General" by G.Abbaszade; " Battalions ask fire " by J.Bondarev, at the same time there was a local specificity in products of the Belarus writer V.Bykov, who by a twist of fate during the last years of his life was a political emigrant in Germany; I want to mention the the Kirghiz - C.Ajtmatov, the Azerbaijan - I.Gusejnov, and the Russian - V.Rasputin.

The most important new tendencies of Soviet literature

Undoubtedly these literatures, which made up the Soviet literature, developed, not losing their originality, and going back to their genetic roots and to the pre-soviet past, were at the same time enriched by new opportunities in a new cultural- historical context, but were accompanied by losses on both sides which are part of any integration and interaction.

One of the components of culture is the politics and ideology corresponding to the level of civilization of a people and the historical stage of development of mankind as a whole. A recurrent theme of all Soviet literature was its idea about the unity of the party-state and society, who should act in close interrelation. Various directions developed at different stages of the development of Soviet. A cult of Soviet statehood as ideal and exclusive form of statehood with a stable economy and a peaceful foreign policy, the equality of the members of society and, accordingly, without internal conflicts - this vision affected the ideological orientation of art in general.

Part of the politics of the ideal Soviet statehood included a cult of the political leader of the CPSU, "the leader of world proletariat," since Lenin, achieving its apogee during Brejnev. It ended with the last leader of the country - M. Gorbachev. In the literature this " alleluia as the direction" has many verses, and stories; it is specific to children's and youth literature; one of the topics of this literature is Lenin describing his love for children, peasants and workers (cf. V.Mayakovsky, "V.I.Lenin", "Lenin and the stovemaker" by V.Tvardovsky, "Lenin" by Rasul Rza); many texts are devoted to Stalin, in which there is a hint of the rigidity of his character. A cult of a party and its leader was combined with a characteristic patriotism. It is interesting, that the inculcation of patriotism was one of priorities of Soviet period and that the present society has almost entirely lost it.

At the same time the literature created by the writers in Russian as, for example, the prose of brothers М. and R. Ibragimbekovyh, C. Abdullaev, Anar (Azerbaijan), Ch. Ajtmatov (Kyrgistan ), F. Iskander ( Abkhaz), exhibited each a different local national specificity. During the Soviet epoch the formative literature became Russian literature; other literatures because of history. The Azerbaijan literature goes back to 13th century - three poems by Hasan-ogly which have reached us written in Azerbaijani and one on Parsee ), without even speaking about such great poets of XII century as Nizami, Khagani and of the XIV century as Nasimi, and the XVI centuries Fizuli), were absorbed into the Russian national literature.

It is a fact that local authors also contributed to the literary style during the Soviet period and these national literatures became integrated with the soviet style. Parallelism within Soviet literature was provided with the existence of the socialist countries with a similar dominating ideology whose synthetic character was brought about by previous traditions, and by internal connections of already developed literatures. Besides, this addition of new types did not exclude originality of each of the national literatures entering into this new type of literature and art; on the contrary, the originality of each of them made the universality all the richer. Or: the Soviet-Muslim synthesis as synthesis of two ideologies (political and religious ) is can be perceived in the creativity of the Muslim republics, for example, the Azerbaijan writers Elchin, M.Sulejmanly, and the Kyrgyz writer Ch.Ajtmatov. So, their products reflect the life of their people during the Soviet period, characteristic for all the Soviet people, but the mentality of each of them reflects the local pecularities of a universal problems.

The literary works singing (not always under orders of the political elite) this or that party, can be of a different level of artistry than novels. "As steel," by N. Ostrovsky, or "Fight in a way," by G. Nikolaeva, the play and stories by J. Jabbarly. The comparative method allows us to find analogies, universalities and similarities, as well as distinctions, and finally laws and typologies.

It is possible to divide the history of this literature into three cycles based on Soviet history:

The revolutionary romanticism and construction of a new socialist life, where all are equal;

The period the Great Domestic War of the 20th century and the peak of patriotism;

The discrediting of the Stalin cult of personality and the period of Khrushchev’s "ottepel" (thawing) which has led to an emergence of the literature of 1960-1980 with the accent on the private world, in which a new image supersedes the former popular active builder of a new life. Each of these stages has developed the type of the person combining ideas of the period, e.g. both the idea of socialism and national features. Typical heroes became a moral reference point not only for one generation. Typical heroes emphasize one more characteristic moment of the Soviet culture, despite of all its other minuses. In the best traditions of the classical literature it tried not to duplicate the evil which already exists in in any society. According to the ideological orientation of this society, hopelessness did not become leading emotion of works of art.

Now even if recognized writers, such as Azerbaijanis and Armenians, Arabs and Jews (taking into account the squall of interethnic wars, acts of terrorism, the list it can be continued) would write a novel on the theme of friendship between antagonistic peoples, they would hardly be supported. Our time by virtue of historical circumstances is required to be a little bit more cautious when referring to a theme of friendship of peoples, though at certain times of history it was even honorable (a song once was popular "Become friends Hayastan-Armenia and Azerbaijan ", novel "Three friends behind mountains " by I. Efendiev, written quite sincerely, because that friendship was quite possible during the Soviet Union). And here and now even solid writers, intellectuals of a rank of V. Rasputin, are allowed to express at times, to put it mildly, disrespect to representatives of non-Russian nationalities and whole nations.

In the structure of the Soviet literature there were also literary works, which were reflecting the ethos of Soviet societyand the special characteristics of this phase, for example, "The Mother" by M. Gorky, the novel reflecting the preconditions and showing driving forces of a socialist revolution and its inevitability, as well as the plays "Sevil ", and "Firuza" by J. Jabbarly. They reflect the specificity of the preconditions of the revolution in Azerbaijan, its part on liberation of women and the necessity for her to become a full member of society.

The next stage of Soviet life is reflected in the products revealing the difficulties of the construction of a new socialist life and the spiritual conviction of people. There are novels such as "As steel" by N. Ostrovsky and "Fight in a way" by G. Nikolaeva. Portraying rural life was M. Sholokhov's "Newly plowed virgin soil". In the Azerbaijan literature "The Violent Kura" by I. Shykhly, reflected the organization and reorganization of education in a concrete environment. "The Komsomol poem" by S.Vurgun was also characterised by local originality and a collision of national mentalities in construction of a new life. In the film "The White sun of the desert " by V.Motyl the script was written by Azerbaijanian R.Ibragimbekov who has a brilliant knowledge of features of Muslim east.

To the middle of 20th century this theme is continued in the literature representing battles or constructed on psychological factors, which cause the behaviour of adult persons in extreme conditions of war (M.S.Sholokhov, J.Bondarev, G.Baklanov, V.Bykov, V.Tvardovsky; Abulhasan, G.Abbaszade, I.Shihly, S.Rustam; films popular in the Soviet Union "Seventeen instants of spring", "They battled for the native land "); the novel "Vasyok Trubachev and his comrades" by N. Oseeva, the trilogy by A. Rubakova " Dagger (Dirk)", "The Bronze bird ", etc., became favorite books of children of more than one generation. These books awakened and brought out the best qualities in children. It also contains stories about octyryata and octyabryat ’s asterisks, organized for rendering assistance to old men, who required it, because their habitual life was destroyed by the war, and to supporters of families. Art works with a similar literary function appeared, and do not cease to be the best products of a general literature, despite the fact that they were created in a context of heavily ideologized Soviet literature.

One of the periods of Soviet literature and culture, beginning with the literature of the 60-s to the 80-s, had the following characteristics, as it was brought about by the period of "thawing": there was some reorientation with respect to the ideological priorities and in relation to the reassessment of the Stalin epoch; all this has generated a lot of remarkable works of art, diversified and covering different periods. Several works of art illustrate these changes, including the Georgian film the "Repentance", J. Bondarev, mentioned above, V. Rasputin, V. Bykov, I. Chigrinov, I.Gusejnov, and also Anar, A. Aylisli and many others.

Parallel with this, the phenomenon, "the literature of the shelf " (a more usual term in Western criticism is "underground")is a characteristic of Soviet literature, where works of art which induced doubt were not allowed. Nevertheless such products were created during the Stalin epoch, but these could only be published outside the Soviet Union by emigrants and later during the period of "re-organization" (A.Solzhenitsyn’s "Archipelago GULAG", "Children’s of Arbat" by A.Rybakov).

During Soviet times writers had to observe the rules of the prevailing ideology. Disobedient writers or those who were declared enemies of the people were specially selected for reprisals. The dissidents, who were particularly characteristic for the period of a "thawing" (ottepel), then further increased ideological openness. Emigrants, who did not accept the new authority of the Soviet state, and some people, who were already in emigration, began to be engaged in literary activity. was Among them were Alexey Tolstoy, Nikolay Gumilev, Gayto Gazdanov, George Ivanov, Irina Odoevtseva, Ahmed Dzhavad, Almas Ildirim, etc.

Such writers and poets as Mikail Moushvig, Husein Javid, exiled to Siberia, fell victim to ideological reprisals, as well as the dissident writers- V. Nabokov, A. Solzhenitsyn, I. Brodsky (all three have lived in America and are Nobel laureates); nothing more than a denunciation could serve an occasion for such reprisals. About these black pages of Azerbaijani history (and in the whole of Soviet literature) of this period thre are currently a number of reports. This became one of the common topics for criticism of the Post-Soviet era during the last decade. Detailed work on this theme is by J. Gasymov. Ideologies of literatures can be shown both in highly artistic products, and in mediocre works. The political universality with its leading ideology influences the shape of the literature. In Soviet literature it was supposed to have replaced the function of religion; in truth, however, it failed to displace it entirely, as religion was absorbed in the mentality of peoples for a long time.


Evaluation of Socialist Realism

Socialist realism as a literary method was evaluated in different ways. Except for the criterium of party membership, the national character, was used in this method. Socialist realism was also defined as a "literature of realism with socialism", but often with romantic pathos, not only revolutionary pathos, but also lyrical pathos. Even a recognized classic of Soviet literature, M.Gorky, combined revolutionary romanticism and socialist realism. In any case, it was an art form that had as the most important aesthetic principles the expression of an ideal of a new society.

All this served the "correct" ideological and emotional orientation, justifying the functions of literature to influence people. Since ancient times art has influenced people. The theory of Sanskrit drama emphasized the absence of conflict. Government influence on art is also characteristic of many other societies. Thee English parliament decided to close down theatres and and other places of entertainment in 1642, considering that they express frivolity instead of reconciliation and reverence for God. As a result of this decision, the Shakespearian theatre "Globe" was demolished in 1644 and the art of the theatre languished for some time. In April, 1963, Мао Zedong did forbid all « dramas with phantoms» and that has banished from the stage an Ancient Chinese genre, rich with fairy tales about the revenge of spirits on immobilized victims who pursued them in life. In 1964 the same regime condemned 39 artists, writers, scientists.

As a rule, each government do not support art works, which contradict its basic beliefs. Socialist realism was no exception. The Soviet Union has far surpassed China in its persecution of class enemies, creating new categories of class enemies in the middle of 30s - (a period of heavy reprisals against intellectuals). Any infringement of the laws and beliefs of society, more precisely, its leadership, and any tendencies in literary works which were not supposed to exist in that society, were punished at all times. For example, the great Persian poet Firdousi, who wrote in the 10th century and who has written "Shah-name " under the order of sultan Mahmud Gaznevi taking all of thirty five years. The governor was all the same dissatisfied. Nasimi in the 12th century was persecuted for hurufy (one of the streams of Sufism) ideas embodied in his art. Medieval inquisition in Europe, when the church was very powerful, severely punished heterodoxies. Salman Rushdie, a Pakistanian and a Moslem by origin, was sentenced to death in the 70s and 80s of the 20th century for his "Satanic Verses ", which were considered an insult against Mohammed and against Muslims.

The method of socialist realism has historical and cognitive roots, like any other creative method. On the one hand, it was a criticism of the defects of society and of individual people. On the other hand, the description of positive factors of life was encouraged. All this served the formation of the person according to the tasks of this new Soviet society, bearing an imprint not only of the time, but also of the author's outlook, and through the author of the mentality and traditions of his national literature. By the way, because of this the literature of socialist realism differs from the optimistic pathos, because in a socialist society, according to Soviet understanding, there should be no space for pessimistic moods and hopelessness. bis hier

As a whole, а) the typology of the Soviet literature is composed from the above-named characteristics, formed in a context of separate stages of existence of the Soviet statehood. The reference to history, if necessary, promotes the foreground of an economic and cultural life of the country is means for comprehension of the literary works written about that period, or during this period so the literature is one of the epoch’s life and culture spokesmen. On the other hand, formation of the Soviet literature became result of synthesis of literary traditions, national specificity and socio-cultural complexes of peoples making the new state.

б) "Reconstruction", an integration of elements of various traditions was carried out due to new historical realities and the new integrating factor by a method of socialist realism, paying essential attention to functional aspect of the literature, in particular its social - psychological functions. Nevertheless, the factor of individuality in the literature existed at any stage, having different opportunities of display, and the literature of socialist realism in this context, in this system the person of the author, its outlook, the approach to the validity, an estimation of the world was expressed by various ways in its creativity.

Within the literary - cultural framework such as the Soviet literature synthesis of literatures concerning different cultural - philosophical zones, various systems of values, new philosophical zones were created. Such combination allowed the authors to put the general problems, themes with common standard moments caused by certain adaptation of new literary system elements, received as a whole the Soviet literary concept. It was developed and kept in the main, but, as well as in any other literary type, not maintained with absolute sequence. Forms of synthesis of these literatures in new state-cultural contexts by virtue of their various specificity in many features was kept. They were various in a new context as in the image of characters where authors concerns national features. For example, Medina from A.Aylysly’s novel shies even in the questions concerning own destiny. Or independence in character of Ay sel and Dzhamilya by Ch. Aytmatov’s novels in the decision of private problems. Typical heroines from any East society are not characteristic for Russian, Moldavian, Georgian at etc. literatures as he heroine of "Choice" Gertruda J. Bondarev differs with other national thinking. The features concentrated on universal values also can prevail. For instance, Dzhamilya’s mother-in-law understands an act of her bride, even she does not speak about it.

One of the forms of synthesis was the interference of literatures and cultures which always exists in different variants but which has received new opportunities in a renewal context.

Von hier ab в ) A comparison of the groups, which make up Soviet literature and the literary-cultural traditions, in many respects determined the new cultural type. This allows to define its literary and aesthetic universalities, including a new type of hero in the characteristic historical and cultural context. The linguistic base of the new literary type for both literature, and literary research became the national languages - as well as Russian. The dominant factor which forms the new literary type, i.e. the new forms of culture and literature, contested the influence of the "peripheral" traditions.



The Soviet period can be characterized as one of many cultural-historical types in the civilization of the 20th century. History and philosophy, culture and literature, inspite of differences, are united in the search for the meaning of human existence and the destinies of people. History studies political authority, the state, and the history of other areas. Doubtlessly it leaves an imprint on art, and its means of expression. For example, the abundance of panegyrics in poetry is typical for many historical fragments. The typological characteristics of Soviet literature are based on the following three moments:

new historical realities and a new method of socialist realism which corresponds the requirements of dominating ideology and to the new aesthetic requirements;

the stages of development of the Soviet statehood and their literary representation;

the connection of elements of previous literary experience of national literatures in a new context with inevitable losses in a new context and purchases.

The literature of socialist realism was the document of the whole epoch representing its basic tendency,. M.Gorky at the First Congress of the Soviet writers spoke about that dominating feature of a new epoch and culture as "a system of socialist morals, as regulator of our work, our mutual relations"

Soviet literature according to its art system and principles shaped a new literary universality:

All of these principles have created the renewal of the unity known as Soviet literature.

At a final stage of its existence the USSR, amidst the collapse of its ideological skeletons during "perestroika", gradually started a reassessment of the values of the Soviet system. At this point the contours of the literary type at the Post-Soviet’s space were initiated. The disintegration of the Soviet Union and its ideological system in 1990-s initiated the formation of a new literary type for the Azerbaijani literature. Through this modernization the traces of the past are visible, especially recent ones from the Soviet period. The literature of one nation became part of a literary universality. Hier Distinctions in national literatures in structure of the certain systems are connected not only to national specificity, but especially ideological features and an art level, and also a level of interaction of literatures. This explains the undoubtedly closed contact between literatures of socialist camp.

© Rahilya Geybullayeva (Baku Slavic University)


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11.1. Médias et médiations, processus et communautés

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