Gabdulla Tukai

Tukai, Gabdulla


(full name Gabdulla Mukhamedgarifovich Tukaev). Born Apr. 14 (26), 1886, in the village of Kushlauch, in what is now Arsk Raion, Tatar ASSR; died Apr. 2 (15), 1913, in Kazan. Tatar poet and publicist writer.

Tukai was orphaned in childhood. In 1895 he moved to Ural’sk, where he studied at the Mutygiia madrasa and attended a Russian-language class. He began writing poetry in 1902. Tukai worked as a typesetter beginning in 1905 and published poems and topical and satirical articles in the newspaper Fiker (Thought) and the journal El-gasr-el-jadid (New Age).

In 1907, Tukai moved to Kazan and became associated with the Bolshevik Kh. Iamashev and a group of democratic writers. Together with G. Kamal, Tukai published the satirical journal Y&shen (Lightning, 1908–09); beginning in 1910 he worked on the journal Yàlt-iolt (Summer Lightning). His works focused on the revolutionary modern age and on the struggle of the popular masses, as seen in the poems “On Freedom” (1905) and “To the Parasites” and “The State Duma” (both 1906).

Tukai founded the Tatar revolutionary civic lyric. During the reaction that followed the Revolution of 1905–07, he wrote democratic revolutionary satires that attacked tsarism, the nationalist bourgeoisie, and the clergy. These works included the poems “We Won’t Leave!” (1907), “The Nationalists, ” and “Ishan” (both 1908), and the narrative poem The Hay Market, or Novyi Kisekbash (1908).

Tukai’s poetry depicted workers realistically. Tukai also wrote a number of works for children, including the narrative poem Shurale (1907), the source of a ballet of the same name with music by F. Iarullin, and the ballad The Water Maiden (1908). He translated works by Pushkin, Lermontov, A. N. Maikov, A. N. Pleshcheev, la. P. Polonskii, A. V. Kol’tsov, I. S. Nikitin, and A. K. Tolstoy.

Tukai founded realist Tatar literary criticism and wrote the articles “Our Poems” and “Criticism Is a Necessary Thing” (both 1907) and “My First Act After Awakening” (1913). The lecture “A Popular Literature” (1910) revealed Tukai’s profound knowledge of oral folk poetry. Tukai’s works have been translated into many national languages of the USSR. Monuments to Tukai have been erected in Kazan and in the villages of Kyrlai and Kushlauch. A prize in honor of Tukai was established in 1966 in the Tatar ASSR.


Äsärlär, vols. 1–4. Kazan, 1955–56.
Äsärlär, 4 vols., vols. 1–2. Kazan, 1975–76—.
In Russian translation:
Izbrannoe, vols. 1–2. Kazan, 1960–61.
Izbrannoe: Stikhi, poemy, skazki. [Foreword by A. Iskhak.] Kazan, 1969.
Izbrannoe. [Foreword by S. Khakim.] Moscow, 1971.


Khalit, G. Tukai i ego sovremenniki. Kazan, 1966.
Pekhtelev, I. Tukai i russkaia literatura. Kazan, 1966.
Nurullin, I. Put’ k zrelosti: O zarozhdenii i razvitii kriticheskogo realizma v tatarskoi literature. Kazan, 1971.