Kunanbaev, Abai


Kunanbaev, Abai
(1845–1904)
   Also known as Abai Qunan-bai, Abai Kunanbaev was a Kazakh intellectual, poet, writer, and composer whose writings and ideas have been portrayed as both supportive of Kazakh nationalism and critical of Kazakh national shortcomings. Some have seen him, such as the twentieth-century Kazakh writer Mukhtar Auezov, as critical of the Kazakh nation and supportive of efforts toward their further Russification. More recent attempts have been made by Kazakh historians to present Abai as a champion of the Kazakh nation. Regardless, Kunanbaev was supportive of modernization for the Kazakhs and is recognized as one of the first and most influential modern Kazakh intellectuals. His writings were often philosophical. In Kunanbaev’s Book of Words, he struggles to come to terms with the economic, social, and political transitions of the Kazakh nation in the late nineteenth century. He was educated both in a Russian school and in a madrasa.
   See also <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Auezov, Mukhtar. Abai: A Novel. Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, n.d.;
    Kunanbaev, Abai. Book of Words. Translated by David Aitkyn and Richard McKane. Almaty: EL Bureau, 1995.
   SCOTT C. BAILEY

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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