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Alpamysh: Central Asian Identity Under Russian Rule
by Hasan B. Paksoy
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Muriel Atkin, George Washington University
It's an impressive achievement and a valuable contribution to an area which has rarely received such meticulous examination as Dr. Paksoy has carried out.
Arthur T. Hatto, University of London
Epic and politics -- yes, always!
Keith Hitchins, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
I have only the highest praise for its scholarship. It combines a solid examination of the dastan with an illuminating case study of the importance of the collective memory for the maintenance of ethnic and community identity.
Guy Imart, Universite De Provence, Aix Marseille I
H. B. Paksoy masterly reconstitutes the shabby saga of Tsarist/Soviet efforts first to muzzle this authentic vox populi and then to pervert the message of these texts, now with such petty means as alphabetical/orthographic discrepancies, artificially introduced to limit popular access to such or such variant, then through "softer" and more subtle methods such as various "refinements" of the text itself, i.e in fact outward, fraudulent rewriting of it. Soviet totalitarianism added to this panoply of interferences in foreign affairs the corruption of the corrupters by including into, and submitting to "administrative" structures ultimately dependent on political police the very students put in charge of violating these dastans (pp. 28-32), cornering them at a time into having to express shameful --and how ridiculous-- judgements (pp. 26-27) while depriving them -- until now-- of the main, first-hand documents, still buried in various "spetzkhraneniia." No wonder in such conditions if some notorious "coryphei of Soviet Science" turned out, on inquiry, to be mere plagiarists and "falsifiers of History" of the usual, Lyssenko-type
Ewa M. Thompson, Rice University
This is one of those rare books which offer the Western Reader a Central Asian Perspective on the Russian conquest of the non-Slavic territories in Asia.
Wayne S. Vucinich, Stanford University
Dr. Paksoy has done a beautiful job with the dastan Alpamysh. The work is meticulously and exactingly done, and presented clearly.
Hisao Komatsu, School of Letters-Tokai University
Dr. Paksoy opened a new stage in Central Asian area studies. The fresh fruits of [his] thorough investigation on Soviet Central Asian literature, history and politics are integrated in this work, in which readers can find two impressive stories, one is the heroic story of Alpamysh commonly known in whole Central Asia and the other the admirable story of Central Asians' persistent efforts to defend their national heritage.
Iraj Bashiri, University of Minnesota
I believe Professor Paksoy has made a germane contribution to our understanding of the dastan genre. His investigation of the Alpamysh epic reveals both the intricacies of the discriminatory processes employed by patrons to suppress individuals' concerns for their nation, and the resilience of the culture itself. He shows as well how determined generations of Central Asians have been to safeguard the integrity of the Turkish culture. Furthermore, Professor Paksoy's study sheds light on the stories in The Book of Dede Korkut. It shows not only how the Alpamysh epic is preserved in the story of the "Bamsi Beyrek of the Grey Horse", but also what processes the latter story, and possibly the other stories in the collection have undergone after the transplantation of the Oghuz from Central Asia to Anatolia. This is, of course, in addition to the lively discussion of Alpamysh's own "ordeal" at the hand of the Russian and Soviet censors who endeavored to destroy its national and Islamic contents.
Ambassador Gunnar Jarring, Stockholm-Sweden
Dr. Paksoy has with the publication of his book rendered a great service not only to Turcologists and Orientalists but also to all those scholars who devote their time to research in Soviet inter-ethic relations. The Alpamysh is a Central Asian Turkic epos which is of fundamental value and importance for Turkic literature in general. Dr. Paksoy's translation of the Alpamysh, his extensive comments on the text, his deductions based on this genuine Turkic literary monument will be received with great satisfaction everywhere. In addition I would like to express my admiration for Dr. Paksoy's wide reading in a field which has always been connected with difficulty of access.
Geoffrey L. Lewis, Oxford University
The epic of Alpamysh (oddly, the very name is virtually unknown in the Turkish Republic) may fairly be described as part of the soul of the Central Asian Turk. Dr. Paksoy's absorbing book contains, besides a text and annotated translation, the story of its fortunes under successive Russian regimes and a concise account of Soviet language policy. This policy has largely succeeded in persuading the scholarly world that the various Turkish dialects of Central Asia are so many distinct languages. The Central Asian Turks, happily unaware of this, find little more difficulty in communicating with each other than a Yorkshireman finds communicating with a Californian. And they all know and love Alpamysh.
About the Author
H. B. Paksoy has earned his doctorate at Oxford University (England), with a Grant from the Committee of Vice- Chancellors and Principals of the Universities of the United Kingdom.
His earlier degrees are from the Trinity University (B.S.) and the University of Texas at Dallas (M.A.). For the past twenty years, several dozen of Dr. Paksoy's papers have been appearing in scholarly journals and collections, including those published in the United States, United Kingdom, Turkish Republic, West Germany, Soviet Union, Japan, The Netherlands and France.
His books to date include Alpamysh: Central Asian Identity under Russian Rule (1989); Central Asian Monuments (1992); Central Asia Reader: The Rediscovery of History (1994); and Turk Tarihi (1997). Over the years he has taught at University of Massachusetts-Amherst and the Central Connecticut State University, and was a Faculty Associate of the Harvard University Center for Middle Eastern Studies.
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