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Our Abay

The translations of Abai’s heritage

The poet's creative heritage, which includes verses, poems and philosophical essays, can rightfully be attributed to the priceless treasury of the world literature. Moreover, Abaiworked in the field of literary translation from Russian, which introduced Kazakh people to the greatest works of Russian and European classics.

The first language into which Abai’s poem was translated was Russian. That was a line-by-line translation of his poem "Summer", which was published during his lifetime in a local newspaper in 1889 (probably, the author was EvgeniPetrovichMichaelis, a friend of Abai).

Translations of Abai’s poems into foreign languages were published for the first time in the 1950s. For example, in 1951-1955, several of his poems were printed in Mongolian. Abai's works were translated into Chinese by Professor Ha Huanzhang, who wrote under the pseudonym Habai. Back in 1950, he translated the poem "Iskander" into Chinese. In 1958, he translated two other poems of Abai, which together with the first one were published in the form of a collection “Abai. Three poems.” Professor Habai contributed a lot to the translation of the Kazakh poet’s creative heritage in China. He is the author of almost all translations of Abai's works that have been published in Chinese, and he also wrote a number of articles about Abai. It is important to note that Abai's works were spread in China in the 20-30s of the XX century due to the communication of Chinese Kazakhs with their relatives from Kazakhstan.

Unfortunately, the name of AbaiKunanbaiuly and his works for a long time remained unknown for the world, especially for the European people. The first translation into European language is considered to be the book "Words of edification", published in 1959 in Czech.The foreword to this book was written by the Czech writer FrantišekSoukup, who called Abai a great humanist and democrat. And another Czech literary figure of the 1950s, A. Kostan, in his article on Kazakh poets, assigned the role of the founder of written Kazakh literature to AbaiKunanbaiuly.

However, an important role in popularizing the name of Abaiin the world was played by the appearance of the epic novel "The Path of Abai" by MukhtarAuezov, which was translated into 116 languages. The novel was printed in English in 1953, in German in 1954, in Czech and Hungarian in 1956, and in French in 1958. M. Auezov's novel "The Path of Abai" has received rave reviews from foreign literary critics. Thanks to the novel, foreign readers got introduced to Abai and became interested in his own works. Translation of AbaiKunanbaiuly's works into foreign languages became widespread by 1995 – the year of the poet's 150th anniversary, declared by UNESCO as the Year of Abai.

Thus, GalymzhanMukanov translated "Words of edification", poems "Iskander" and "Masgut"from Kazakh to French. At the same time, the book "Works and thoughts of Abai" was published in Iran, and "Selected poems of AbaiKunanbaev"– in Pakistan.

Under the auspices of the Abai House in London, there was organized translation of The Words of Edification into English (translator Richard McCain) and French (translator Antoine Garcia). In the anniversary year, The Words of Edification were also published in Chinese, Korean, and Mongolian. It is important to note that Abai's prose that is to say, his "Words of Edification" were more widely distributed abroad than Abai's poetic works. The reason for this phenomenon is the difficulty of translating a poetic work from different language. Not everyone takes responsibility to translate poetry from other translation without knowing the original language.

In the 2000s, three books were published in German. In 2001, the book "Abai.Buchder Worte" in German was printed with a foreword by Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany Andreas Curting. In 2007, the book "Abai.ZwanzigGedichte" was issued in Cologne, Germany. It was translated into German by Leo Kossuth, a literary scholar and translator from Berlin. He called his afterword "My path to Abai and the problems of translating his poems." The book "Abai. Twenty poems" was published in the series "KasachicheBibliothek". In 2010, in the year of Germany in Kazakhstan and in honor of the 165th anniversary of AbaiKunanbaev, the book "Abai.Poetry and prose. Words of edification" with a foreword by Rainer Schlageter, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, was published. In 2006, the Book of Words and the poems Iskander and Masgut were printed in Bulgarian. The author of the preface is a Bulgarian poet and translator Ivan Ivanov. In 2013,the presentation of the book "AbajKunanbaiuly.Słowa" in Polish took place in Warsaw. The foreword written by Henryk Jankowski, translator of the Book of words, was translated from Polish and included in the section "Poland".

Thanks to the works of AbaiKunanbaev, the whole world expresses an interest in Kazakh literature, which brings together the cultures and literatures of peoples all around the globe.

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