Cross-Cultural Communication: International Communication

Proceedings of the
Mirny Regional Scientific-Practical Conference on Inter-Cultural Communication:
Issues of Politics, History, Language and Literature

Mirny Polytechnic Institute and Sakha (Yakutsk) State University
Mirny, Sakha Republic (Yakutia)
27-28 April 2002

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Sakha (Yakut) Literature
as a Constituent Part of the World Literary and Cultural Process

by A.M. Skriabina
Faculty of Russian Language and Literature
Mirny Politechnical Institute, affliated with the Sakha (Yakutsk) State University

The fact that Sakha (Yakut) literature began to see itself and to be understood as a constituent part of the world literary and cultural process is greatly due to its fathers: A.E. Kulakovsky, P.A. Oyunsky, A.N. Sofronov.

Oyunsky directed Sakha literature into the course of its natural development despite the calls to create a united proletarian literature and to subdue all the national cultures. He was a fighter against national nihilism, considering the nationality to be not only the form but also the very contents of a culture. He furthermore entered into the history of Sakha literature as the originator and supporter of new forms in poetry.

The social analysis of society began in poetry with Kulakovsky ("Rich merchant", "Countrywoman", and some other poems). He is considered to be the father of Sakha literature by virtue of his poetical talent and his timeliness, responding to the age and change of epochs.

His stream of literature was enriched psychologically by Sofronov, a direct successor, who revealed the complicated and contradictory inner world of a human being. The lyrics of Sofronov reflect the features of the national mentality on the one hand, and on the other hand, at the same time, they reflect thoughts and aspirations that are common in humanity. His poetical, dramatic and prosaic pieces of poetry were interpreted, however, only from the point of view of the prevailing ideology. Many aspects, therefore, remained unclear, and some interpretations have since been recognized as mistaken.

Our contemporary understanding of the complexity and variety of the literary process makes us observe each event or phenomenon in the context of world culture. So, as we turn to existentialism, the movement which appeared at the beginning of the 20th century, we can explain those mistakes, and we can interpret better a peculiar psychologism in the works of Sofronov. It is not only a system of notions, but also an expression of a peculiar mood, an experience of existence in a world where everything is allowed. "Existentionalism is humanism," stated the philosopher, writer and playwright Sartre, admitting high aesthetic functions in literature as literature generates moral principles and moral maxims, reflects the moral life of a society.

Sofronov reflected the anxiety and concerns of a man who sees the break-up of the old ways. He did this as no one else in Sakha literature had done or could do. He did this so artistically and expressively that his lyrics are appreciated at the level of the poetry of the Russian "Silver Age" and the poetry of Western Europe at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries.

The first Sakha poets turned to a well-known and complex biblical image in world literature in different periods, the image of the demon. In 1908, Kulakovsky translated an extract from the poem by Lermontov "Demon". His own viewpoint, however, tended to resist the spirit of philosophical doubt and dissatisfaction with the state of things, which was characteristic of the greatest of Russian poets. An absolutely different interpretation of the classical image is given by Sophronov in the poem "Angel and Demon". In this poem, the figure of Satan burns with evil, bringing about quarrel and discord, causing crimes and wars. The antimilitary attitude of the Sakha writers in compositions such as "Angel and Devil" by Sofronov and "Shaman's Dream" by A. Kulakovsky has much in common with the antimilitary literature of progressive foreign writers of the 20th century, such as A. Zola, A. France, G. Mann, H.G. Wells.

The plays of Sofronov are remarkable for their simplicity of plot, individualization, absence of theatrical effects, and a small number of characters. The humanistic tradition of Russian literature, attention to man, and sympathizing love determined Sofronov's dramatic conception. The characters in plays are revealed in dialectics, conditioned by social circumstances. He compares the small world of private existence with a greater world of social existence, and reveals them in oppositions, in conflicts and struggles. The characters of his plays are lonely, they are tortured by constant choice, they are looking for truth, kindness, light. Their life is full of doubt, suspicion and inner argument.

The first Sakha playwrights could not have been unacquainted with the plays of the master of social comedy J.B. Moliere. The translations of the famous French comedies appeared in Russia at the beginning of the 18th century. In the second half of the 18th century, nearly all comedies by Molière were translated in Russian. The characters of Sofronov are close to some characters of Molière.

All of these features shows us that the literature of Sofronov can be referred to those world literary events that reflected the complex aesthetics of existentialism. These aesthetics brought Yakut poetry into the sphere of universal human desires. In prose and drama, this revealed the inner world and choices of a man in his contradictions with the outer world.

Citation Guidelines

Skriabina, A.M., "Sakha (Yakut) Literature as a Constituent Part of the World Literary and Cultural Process", translated by I.A. Abolentseva, Cross-Cultural Communication: International Communication, Proceedings of the Mirny Regional Scientific-Practical Conference on Inter-Cultural Communication: Issues of Politics, History, Language and Literature (27-28 April 2002), Mirny Polytechnic Institute and Sakha (Yakutsk) State University, edited by S.A. Mousalimas, 2002, available at

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