Akhundov, Mirza Fatali


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Akhundov, Mirza Fatali

 

Born June 30 (July 12), 1812, in Sheki, now Nukha; died Feb. 26 (Mar. 10), 1878, in Tiflis. Azerbaijani writer and enlightener; materialist philosopher; pioneer in Azerbaijani dramaturgy. He received a clerical education and spoke Russian, Arabic, and Persian.

Akhundov worked as a translator in the chancellery of the tsar’s vicegerent in the Caucasus in Tiflis (1834–61). He taught Persian and Turkic in the Tiflis district school. He began his literary activity in the 1830’s; it was directed against backwardness and religious dogmatism and argued for education, freedom, and progress. In his articles of literary criticism, he criticized courtly-epigonic and religious-mystical poetry; he developed principles for a realistic ideological art and propagandized for new literary genres. His first significant work was the elegiac poem “On the Death of Pushkin” (1837). The poem was translated into Russian and published in the journal Moskovskii nab-liudatel’ in 1837.

His literary talent was displayed with particular force in the area of dramaturgy. Between 1850 and 1856 he wrote six comedies which reflected realistically the life of Azerbaijan in the first half of the 19th century: Monsieur Jordan, Botanist and Dervish of Mastalishakh, Celebrated Sorcerer (1850; first performed on the Russian stage in the author’s translation in 1851 in St. Petersburg, 1852 in Tiflis); Molla Ibragim Khalil, Alchemist, Possessor of the Philosopher’s Stone (1850); The Vizier of the Lenkoran Khanate (1850; staged at the first Azerbaijani theater in Baku in 1873); The Bear, Conqueror of the Robber (1851); The Miser’s Adventure (Khadzhi Kara, 1852); and The Defenders of Right in the City of Tebriz (The Eastern Lawyers, 1855). In the satirical novella The Deceived Stars (1857), Akhundov depicted the disintegration of feudal patriarchal relations.

Akhundov’s world view took shape under the influence of the progressive philosophical ideas of the Near East and, in addition, of Russian philosophy and the ideas of the French materialists of the 18th century. In his philosophical treatise Three Letters of the Indian Prince Kemal-ud-Doula to the Persian Prince Jalal-ud-Doula. . . , the article “Response to the Philosopher Hume,” and other works, Akhundov developed materialist ideas, rejected the immortality of the soul, separated philosophy and science from religion, and called for the study of nature. With respect to the theory of knowledge, Akhundov’s standpoint was that of materialistic sensationalism; however, he could not perceive the dialectics of sensational and rational levels of knowledge.

Protesting against social oppression, Akhundov defended the rights of Eastern women and arrived at the notion of the inevitability of a forcible overthrow of the oppressors. He saw the aim of education as the training of conscious citizen patriots free from religious beliefs. He ascribed great importance to the aesthetic training of the rising generation. He worked for the dissemination of the sciences and propagandized for the expediency of replacing the Arabic alphabet by the Latin alphabet. He argued for the training of Azerbaijani teachers.

Akhundov’s activity had a great influence on the development of the literature and social thought of the Azerbaijani people and the peoples of the Near East. His philosophical works first appeared in Russian in the author’s translation in 1853. They were later translated into Persian, English, French, German, and many languages of the peoples of the USSR.

WORKS

Äsärläri, parts 1–3. Baku, 1949–55.
In Russian translation:
Izbrannoe. Moscow, 1956.
Izbr. filosofskie proizv. Moscow, 1962.

REFERENCES

Dzhafarov, Dzh. M. F. Akhundov: Kritiko-biograficheskii ocherk. Moscow, 1962.
Raflli, M. Akhundov. Moscow, 1959.
Mamedov, Sh. F. Mirovozzrenie M. F. Akhundova. Moscow, 1962.
Rzaev, A. K. Politicheskie vzgliady M. F. Akhundova. Baku, 1968.
Taghïyyev, N. Akhundov: Bibliografiyya (1837–1957). Baku, 1960.
Lerman, A. N. Mirza Fatali Akhundov ν russkoi pechati: Biobibliografiia, 1837–1962 gg. Baku, 1962.

A. A. SHARIF

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