Historiography Of Crimean Tatar Literature Criticism


Despite rather considerable changes observed in the last three decades in the field of the study of the Crimean Tatar literary heritage, the fact that the vast majority of relevant studies relate to the features of the history of development and theory of Crimean Tatar literature can not but attract attention. At the same time today the problems of the history of the development of Crimean Tatar literary criticism remains understudied. The list of the studies on this issue is very limited. It consists of a few publications on individual aspects of the topic. This circumstance does not correlate in any way with the huge potential material for research. Speaking of Crimean Tatar literature, we mean a multi-hundred-year literary tradition, valuable not only in its narrow sense, but giving the world literature many phenomena that significantly exceed the scope of the Crimean Tatar literature itself. Moreover, throughout the entire period of its existence, this heritage was subjected to reflection in one way or another, and from the end of the 19th century it became the subject of research and an independent discipline – literary criticism. This paper is the first review study that aims to give a general idea of the history of the development of Crimean Tatar literary criticism, assess the potential of the relevant heritage and outline the prospects for further research in this area.

Keywords: Anthology, analysis, criticism, literature, poetics, realism


The history of the development of the Crimean Tatar literary and critical thought can be divided into a number of the following periods: 1) the Medieval period, corresponding to the history of the Crimean Tatar literature of the periods of the Golden Horde (XIII–XV centuries) and the Crimean Khanate (XV–XVIII centuries), 2) the Modern times (late XIX – early XX centuries), 3) 1910–1920s, 4) 1930s–1980s and 5) the Contemporary period.

The elements of literary criticism of the Crimean Tatar literature of the medieval period (XIII–XVIII centuries). Speaking about the Crimean Tatar literary criticism of this period, it is necessary to note that literary criticism as a special discipline (on the verge of literary criticism and artistic and literary creativity, as the concept of literary criticism is now interpreted) did not exist in the Crimean (the Crimean-Tatar) literature during this period. As in other world literatures, this design will occur much later, and in our case – only at the end of the 19th – the 1st half of the 20th century. However, this does not mean at all that literary-critical thought was completely absent in the medieval period. Even preliminary studies indicate that numerous elements of literary criticism already existed at the very early stage of the development of this literature. The range of relevant sources is quite extensive.

Problem Statement

The Crimean-Tatar literary criticism attracts the interest of scientists. However, the list of studies on this issue is very limited. It consists of a few publications on certain aspects of the topic.

Research Questions

Purpose of the Study

The study is performed in order to give a general idea of the history of the development of the Crimean Tatar literary criticism, assess the potential of the relevant heritage and outline the prospects for further research in this area.

Research Methods

The authors applied hermeneutic and descriptive methods.


The main sources for the study of the Crimean Tatar literary and critical thought of the medieval period are: 1) poetic anthologies, which gained popularity among researchers and popularizers of the poets of the divan, 2) the works in the genre of «shair-name» («tales about poets») – the analogues of anthologiesin Ashyk (folk) poetry, 3) the historiographic works of Crimean and Ottoman authors, and finally, 4) the works of Crimean Tatar authors, mainly poets, in which, in one form or another, there are elements of their assessment of both their own work and the work of colleagues.

Talking about poetic anthologies(or, we are talking mainly about the Ottoman anthologies of the 16th – early 20th centuries, in which there is information about the Crimean poets. The anthologies containing the most extensive information on this issue are the of Riza (the 17th century), Safai, Salima (the 18th century), Fatina (the 19th century) and others. The ottoman anthologies on the subject of Crimean authors are actively studied by both Crimean Tatar and Turkish researchers, as a result of this work, the names and fragments of the work of more than forty poets of Crimean origin are already known today (Abdulvapov, 1996; Zairetdinova & Seferova, 2018). Despite the brevity and, often, the relative standard nature of the characteristics given by authors to the works of one or another poet, these characteristics sometimes contain very important details that make it possible to more adequately represent the creative image of the poet, the level of his poetic skill and place among contemporary poets.

There is no doubt that Crimean examples ofalso existed. In this regard, attention is paid to the evidence of Academician Krymsky, in a well-known article about the history of the Crimean Tatar literature mentioning a certain «tezkirat» collection compiled in 1024/1615 in the city of Kef (now the city of Feodosia) and in which there were «biographical information about the Krymchak poets, and samples of their work» (Krymsky, 2003). According to the scientist, a handwritten copy of the work was discovered in one of the villages of the southeastern Crimea, and the director of the Oriental Museum in Yalta, Y. Kemal, had his own copy of it. This anthology is also mentioned in a number of Turkish sources, which, among other things, give some information about the author (compiler) of the work – a certain «Kefevi» (i.e. a native of Kefe, now Feodosia), who died in 1088/1677–78. However, the fate of this anthology, as well as its Crimean lists, remains unknown (Özkan, 2015).

A kind of analogue of anthologiesin folk (ashyk) poetry were the so-called «shair-name» – «tales about poets», which gained popularity in Ottoman poetry from the 17th century. Unlike which were works in prose, but with quoting fragments from the work of one or another author,were written in verse – in the form of a(a poetic work of medium and large form, consisting of their quatrains, written using the. It draws attention to the fact that one of the earliest and most popular works in this genre on the scale of the literature of the entire Ottoman region was “shair-name” by the Crimean author, the legendary saz poet Ashyk Umer (who died in 1707). The most complete list of «shair-name» by Ashyk Umer, stored in the National Library in Ankara, consists of 59 quatrains and contains references to 161 poets – the author's predecessor and contemporary (Elçin, 1990).

«Shair-name» is one of the most significant works of Ashyk Umer, testifying to the widest literary erudition of the author. At the same time, it is difficult to overestimate the significance of the work for the history of Turkic-speaking literary-critical thought (Çetin, 2014).

The important sources on the history of the Crimean Tatar literary and critical thought of the medieval period are the works of historiography, both Crimean Tatar and Ottoman in general. If we talk about the historiographic works of the Crimean Tatar authors, first of all we pay attention to the well-known works of Seyyid Mohammed Riza, Abdulgaffar Kyrymi (2014), Said Giray (the 18th century), Halim Geray (2013) (the 19th century). In particular, in Riza’s work entitled “Seven Planets in the News about the Tatar Rulers”, in addition to numerous information about the Crimean poets of the Khan’s period, including unique information, there is also a whole anthology of the samples of their poetry (Seyid-Mukhammed, 2019). Valuable information about contemporary poets, including literary criticism, is also contained in the «History» by Said Giray (Seyityahya, 2004). Thus Said Giray highly appreciates the talent of his colleague – the aforementioned historian and poet Abdulgafar Kyrymi (Gafuri), characterizing him as a «mentor of the Crimean poets» («») and even the Crimean «Baki of modernity» («»), meaning the personality of the most prominent representative of the Ottoman poetry of the divan – the poet Baki (1600) (Seyityahya, 2004). It must be said that in medieval poetry there are a number of genres that were actively used precisely for these purposes. These are the genres of panegyric –satire –, self-praise –, as well as the genre of poetic answers or imitations –If the samples of the first three in the context we are interested in in the Crimean Tatar literature have not yet been found, then the poetic answerscan be found in the work of many Crimean poets. Thus in the lyrics of the outstanding poet of the sofa – the Crimean Khan Gazi Gerai II (who died in 1607, pseudonym: «Gazai») there are traces of the influence of Central Asian (Chagatai) poetry – Lutfi, Alisher Navoi, Khayali-and Chagatai (as indicated in one of the poems by Gazai himself), Azerbaijani poetry – Nesimi and Fuzuli, and the Ottoman – Zati, Baki and Khayali (Ertaylan, 1958).

Another very interesting author in this regard is the aforementioned poet and historian Said Gerai (the 18th century). In his Divan, there are the author's reflections on the essence of poetic creativity and the purpose of the poet attract attention. The «Divan» demonstrates the author's deep awareness of contemporary poets. He mentions the names of about fifty Ottoman and Persian poets and gives brief descriptions to a number of them, poetic answers are written to the verses (Nabi, Nefi, Naib, Ryza, Avni, etc.) and imitation (nazire) of some of them. The Said's poems in Farsi attract attention, in one of which Said writes that he «gained fame among his contemporaries as a follower of Omar Khayyam».

Finally, of particular interest are poems that are directly related to the history of Crimean poetry. Thus, among the ghazels by Said there are a number of answers and imitations () to the poems of Crimean authors, in particular, Gazaya, Feyzi, Rezmi, Khilmi (Abdulvapov, 1996). Another poems of the poet is a(a poem consisting of five lines, in which an alien (original) ghazal is added to each bayt, observing the appropriate rhyme and size, three original lines) per ghazel of a certain Meali Kyrymi, written, in turn, on the(initial bayt) of the khan-poet Mengli Geraya II (Abdulvapov, 1996). This tahmis and the above-mentioned responses to the works of Crimean authors once again testify to the presence of continuity in the development of the Crimean Tatar literature of the Khan's period.

Crimean Tatar literary-critical thought in the late XIX – early XX centuries (the period of «Terjiman»). The fall of the Crimean Khanate in 1783 and the resulting several waves of emigration of the Crimean Tatars outside their historical homeland had a very negative impact on the literary life among the indigenous people of the peninsula. After lively processes during the period of the Khanate, a century of almost complete stagnation in the literature of the Crimean Tatars, as well as in cultural life in general, followed. This stagnation ended with the beginning of the activities of the outstanding Crimean Tatar educator, writer, publicist, editor of the newspaper «Terjiman – Translator» Gasprinsky (1851–1914).

The «discovery» of Gasprinsky as a literary critic took place relatively recently, after the publication by Akpınar (1998) in 1998 of the main literary-critical works of the educator (Akpınar 1998). A little later, these materials were published in the Crimea, and also became a part of the three-volume literary and journalistic heritage of Gasprinskiy, prepared and published by the aforementioned Y. Akpınar in 2008 in Istanbul (Gaspıralı, 2008). The literary-critical activity of Gasprinsky fell on the period of the formation of literary criticism as an independent discipline within the framework of the entire Turkic-language literature as a whole.

Gasprinsky's literary critical articles were: the concept of literary criticism, its subject, the etymology of possible variants of the corresponding term, the topics of the work of Ottoman writers and the influence of European literature on them, the need to refer to national history when choosing topics for works, etc. When discussing the term itself, similar to the European «criticism», Gasprinsky proposed to dwell on the term «tenkit», which appeared as a result of these discussions. At the same time, I. Gasprinsky went even further: taking into account that the term «tenkit» was of Arabic origin, he suggested finding its analogue in the Turkic languages, and if it was absent, invented it (Akpınar, 1998). By the way, this was later implemented in Turkish literary criticism.

In late 1920s, literature and its relationship with the philosophy of the word-image have become the subject of reflection in journalism. Like his predecessor Gasprinsky, Aivazov saw the task of literature in the description of the world in a new way, and for this, radically updating the artistic language and means of expression: “It is necessary to give the people the light of high knowledge so that they can distinguish truth from lies, justice from violence, a shepherd from a butcher» (Aivazov, 1926). The subject of detailed reflection in the works of «Bizde shiir technicas» («Technique of verse in our poetry», 1926), «Meyus shairlerimiz» («Our offended poets», 1928) became artistic strategies and techniques of painting technique in the word of the Crimean Tatar poets, the concept of man in the work of writers. The author sharply but justly criticized the work of young poets who compose «rhymed nonsense» («kafieli manasyzlyk») (Aivazov, 1926).

It is important to note that the development of literary critical thought in the late 20s and 30s of the 20th century was sharply conflicted. A characteristic feature of both literature and criticism of this time is a sense of responsibility for what is happening, a feeling of active participation in the historical process, the life of the people. Literary criticism begins to analyze the literary production of its time in the sequence of their appearance, illuminating the literary process in accordance with its purpose, and is already exerting a noticeable influence on this process.

By the end of the 1930s, as a result of the achievements of literary critical science over the past two decades, B. Choban – zade's study «The Newest Period of Crimean Tatar Literature» (1928) appeared. The work was the first comprehensive coverage of the history of Crimean Tatar literature and the cardinal principles of its poetics. In a later work «Kyrymtatar edebiatynda kurultaydzhilyk ve milletchilik» («Kurultai and nationalism in the Crimean Tatar literature») Choban-zade focused on «literary nationalism». Artistic strategies and techniques of «secondary poets» Giraybai, Bektor and others, writers whose work was characterized by the features of «pessimism, death, extinction, rejection of the revolution» become the subject of reflection. According to the researcher Yunusov, “if in his essay “The Newest Period of Crimean Tatar Literature” Choban-zade appears to us as a mature literary scholar, then in the article «Kyrymtatar edebiatynda kurultaydzhilyk ve milletchilik» («Kurultayshchina and nationalism in the Crimean Tatar literature»), the sober approach betrays the author. For the sake of objectivity, it is necessary to note that this work was the result of political attacks on the scientist by those who recklessly inclined towards the methods of vulgar sociologism, born by state power methods (Choban-zade, 1929). Among many articles and publications devoted to the analysis of national literature, the leading position is occupied by the work of Krymsky «Literature of the Crimean Tatars» (1930). The author pays a lot of attention to the analysis of the work of both writers of the older generation and masters of the word of the post-revolutionary period. Noting a fairly wide thematic and figurative range of Ipchi's creativity, he calls him a «multilateral author», a «red bard». Analyzing the work of the poet Latif – zade, he calls him «an intimate poet – hedonist, singing the individual joys of life». In the new historical conditions of the twentieth century, the poetry of Choban-zade, Dzhavtobeli, Dzhamanakly, according to Krymsky (2003), reflects the whole complex of spiritual experiences of people associated with the penetration into the sphere of everyday life of new knowledge, natural scientific discoveries.

Moreover, it is necessary to note that the formation of the Crimean Tatar literary criticism did not pass without difficulties, mistakes and delusions. With the name of the representative of the proletarian Seydamet Literary scholars link the fact that «the writer Cemil Seydamet, giving way to the influence of vulgar sociologism, in a number of articles expounded erroneous views on the work of writers, poets who began to create before the October Revolution». For example, in the work «A Look at Literature» (Edebiyat saamyzga bir nazar) Seydamet identifies in the Crimean Tatar literature such currents as”, «bourgeois literature of the famine period (achlyk devri bourgeoisie edebiaty) and «village poets» (koylu shairler). The author of the article emphasizes that «these currents do not exhaust all possible and others». Calling Choban-zade «symbolist», and his essay «The latest period of Crimean Tatar literature» («Kyrymtatar edebiyatynyn sleep devri») «a caricature devoid of a scientific approach», J. Seidamet expresses methodologically valuable thoughts about the dependence of the development of literature on the «movement of time» (Yunusov, 2004). It is necessary to note that the form of generalization of the aesthetic provisions of art in articles, monographs of individual researchers was quite provocative, unconventional, the embodiment of a gesture, a behavioral act. First of all, this phenomenon is striking in the monograph by Fetislyamov «Edebius tilimiznin shekillenuwinde shire ve yazidzhylarymyznyn role» (The role of poets and writers in the formation of the literary language, 1986), which presents the literary work of poets who worked in the first third of the 20th. The researcher discovers various facets of the interaction between poetry and painting in the work of Ipchi, Jamanakly, Dzhavtobeli and others. The author examines in detail the stages of the formation of Ipchi as a poet and comes to the conclusion that «only Ipchi Died is close to the norm of the Crimean Tatar literary language» (Fetislyamov, 1986).

By the beginning of the 60s, one of the first attempts to theoretically comprehend the problems of Crimean Tatar folklore, undertaken by the researcher Muzafarov. Many of the provisions set forth by him in his dissertation work «Essays on the Folklore of the Turks» have not lost their significance to this day. A significant event was the publication in 2000 of the book «Edebius vetenkidiy makaaleler» (Literary Critical Articles, 2000), which was, to a certain extent, a generalization of the critical experience of E. Shemy-zade. It is important to note that the literary-critical articles of Shemyi-zade is an interpretation-controversy with predecessors (Nouzet, Tokay) and with contemporaries (Selimov, Nagaev). In fact, the article «Yash Kalem arcadashlarrymiznyn shiiriy yaratyjilyklary akkynda» («On the poetic work of our young masters of the pen») is based on polemics.

In the 1970s and 1980s, a number of studies were published on folklore and literary synthesis, on the genre of the novel in the system of epic forms of Crimean Tatar prose, and on the creative position of the writer in the light of the study of literary connections. Listing the most significant achievements, we will name the books of the researcher Nagaev «Yashlykkahas duygunen» (With youthful enthusiasm, 1979), Yylnamelerdeki izler ( Traces in history, 1979), Roman ve zaman (Roman and time, 1980). Noting the renewal of the genre and style nature of the novel, Nagaev writes that the «genre backbone» (according to M. Bakhtin) of the Crimean Tatar novel has not yet hardened, it is a genre that is forever searching, forever exploring itself and revising all its established forms (Nagaev, 1991).

The 1990s were marked by active publication and reprinting of artistic, literary-critical texts, memoirs, etc. It was at this time that the books by Gasprinsky, Choban-zade Aivazov Geraybay, Ozenbashly, Latif-zade, Bektor, Shemi-zade (1974, 1977), Alyadin, Jamanakly and others.

At the beginning of the 21st century, not only archival primary sources, biographical and artistic materials became available to the Crimean Tatar readers and researchers, but also the solid experience of studying the literary and critical heritage that had survived until that time in the collections of libraries in Turkey, Germany, and Switzerland. In 2001, a book by Fazyl and Nagaev, who have been studying the work of writers for many years, also appears in print.

Yes, Selim, noting the various manifestations of pseudoscience, generated by the complexities of development and the lack of ideologically verified criteria for the evaluation of scientific and artistic works, seeks to give meaningful sense to the observations of Gasprinsky about the role of the concept of three components of criticism: scientific (tenkidat – y ilmie), historical (tenkidat – y tarihye), literary (tenkidat – y edebie) (Selim, 2003). It also necessary to note that the dialogic nature of the literary-critical article by Selima, allows creating various situations. Firstly, a reader is endowed with the mask of a silent interlocutor – a collective reader, a dialogue with him is likened to a monologue speech interspersed with stylistic figures (emotional tension, figurative hyperbolism, dynamism, attraction to contrasts, the use of various repetitions, etc.). According to Bakhtin, in an article where other people's statements on this issue by various authors are cited, some of them – for refutation, others – for confirmation and addition, we have a case of a dialogical relationship between significant words within the same context. Relations of consent – not consent, statements-additions, question-answer, etc. purely dialogical relations, moreover, of course, not between words, sentences or other elements of one utterance, but between whole utterances» (Bakhtin, 1986). Secondly, two persons talking as equals: «…. If you, my reader, together with me carefully look through the books, textbooks on the history of Crimean Tatar literature that have been published in recent years»… or «Of course, our brother Timur is still young…» (Selim, 2003). Such phenomena were characteristic of literary criticism at the beginning of the 21st century, since the choice of the modeled reader's point of view was no less significant than the choice of text for analysis and was often associated with temporary conflicts and relationships.


Today, there is a trend to a broad study of the literary-critical heritage in the European context, as evidenced by symposiums, conferences and collective books. However, literary criticism with its inherent ideological and aesthetic principles does not show itself as an effective area of literary creativity, actively influencing the literary process and the life of society.


  • Abdulgaffar, K. (2014). Umdet al – akhbar. Yazma Miras [Written Heritage. Textual heritage]. Institute of History. Sh. Marjani, AS RT.

  • Abdulvapov, N. R. (1996). Ottoman Tezkire. In: Crimean Museum.

  • Aivazov, A. S. (1926). Bizde shiir technicas [Technique of verse in our poetry]. Ileri, 4, 44–47.

  • Akpınar, Y. (1998). İsmail Gaspıralı Bey'in Edebî Tenkitleri [Literary Criticism of Ismail Gaspıralı Bey]. Türk Dili ve Edebiyatı Araştırmaları Dergisi [Journal of Turkish Language and Literature Research], IX, 87–115.

  • Bakhtin, M. M. (1986). Literary-critical articles. Fiction.

  • Çetin, K. (2014). Âşık Ömer'in Şairnâme'siyle Şuara Tezkirelerinin Divan Şairlerinin Biyografisi Yönünden Mukayesesi. Kamile Çetin, Ahmet Akgül [Comparison of Aşık Ömer's Şairname and Şuara Tezkires in Terms of the Biography of Divan Poets. Kamile Çetin, Ahmet Akgül].

  • Choban-zade, B. (1929). Kyrymtatar edebiyatynda kurultaydzhylyk ve milletchilik.

  • Elçin, Ş. (1990). Âşık Omer'In Şâirnâmesi [The Poetry of Âşık Omer]. Turk Kültürü [Turkish Culture], 330, 591–609.

  • Ertaylan, I. H. (1958). Gazi Geray Han. Hayatı ve Eserleri [Ghazi Geray Khan. Life and Works].

  • Fetislyamov, A. (1986). Adebius tilimiznin shekillenuvine shire ve yazidzhylarymyznyn role [The role of poets and writers in the formation of the literary language]. Yildiz, 5, 126–129.

  • Gaspıralı, İ. (2008). Seçilmiş Eserle ri: III. Dil-Edebiyat-Seyahat Yazıları [Selected Works: III. Language-Literature-Travel Writing].

  • Halim, G. (2013). Gülbün-ü Hânân [History of the Crimean Khans]. Istanbul.

  • Krymsky, A. E. (2003). Literature of the Crimean Tatars. Simferopol: Dolya.

  • Nagaev, S. (1991). Yilnamelerdeki isler Kyrymtatar edebiyaty akkynda etudlar. Tashkent named after G. Gulyam.

  • Özkan, Ö. (2015). Osmanlı Şiirinde Bir Edebȋ Muhȋt Olarak Kefe (Feodosia) (Kefe (Feodosia) as a Literary Muhȋt in Ottoman Poetry). Uluslararası Sosyal Araştırmalar Dergisi [International Journal of Social Research], 38(8), 295–301.

  • Selim, Sh. (2003). Kyrymtatar edebiyatshynaslygy: shimdiki vazieti ve keledzhegs [On the poetic work of our young masters of the pen]. Yildiz, 3, 4–29.

  • Seyid-Mukhammed, R. (2019). Seven planets in the news about the Tatar kings. Institute of History; Sh. Marjani AS RT.

  • Seyityahya, N. (2004). Kyrym divan edebiyatyn muellifleri ve esas khususietleri: umumiy bakysh [The authors of the Kyrym divan literature and their main characteristics]. Yıldız, 4, 65–105.

  • Shemi-zade, E. (1974). Omur ve yaratydzhylyk [Vertebrae and creation].

  • Shemi-zade, E. (1977). Hulk hyzmetinde.

  • Yunusov, Sh. E. (2004). Crimean Tatar poetry of the 20s of the XX century. Dolya.

  • Zairetdinova, N. A., & Seferova, F. A. (2018). Osmanly tezkirelerinde Kyrymly shairlerine dair bilgiler [Information about the Kyrymly shairs in Osmanly tezkires]. Bonum Initium, 8(16), 46–52.

Copyright information

About this article

Publication Date

23 December 2022

eBook ISBN



European Publisher



Print ISBN (optional)


Edition Number

1st Edition




Cite this article as:

Seferova, F. A., & Abdulvapov, N. R. (2022). Historiography Of Crimean Tatar Literature Criticism. In D. K. Bataev, S. A. Gapurov, A. D. Osmaev, V. K. Akaev, L. M. Idigova, M. R. Ovhadov, A. R. Salgiriev, & M. M. Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Knowledge, Man and Civilization- ISCKMC 2022, vol 129. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 920-928). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2022.12.118