Abay Kunanbayev (August 10, 1845 - July 6, 1904) - was a prominent poet, composer, philosopher, public figure and educator of Central Asia of the 19th century. His real name was Ibragim, but since a young age, his granny affectionately nicknamed him Abay (which means 'thoughtful, careful'), a name that stuck for the rest of his life.
Abay was born to a noble aristocratic Kazakh family of Kunanbay. Since childhood, he was educated in a madrasah and in a Russian school, he spoke Arabic, Persian, and other Oriental languages. He was very fond of reading books and read works of the prominent figures of the East in the original, such as Firdausi, Nizami, Sa'di, Jami, Hafiz, Saikhali, and Navoi. Also, works of the Russian classics, such as Alexander Pushkin, Mikhail Lermontov, Ivan Krylov, Leo Tolstoy, Ivan Turgenev, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and later European classics also had their impact on shaping the worldview of Abay. Since a young age at the insistence of his father, Abay began to delve into the work of the administrative and judicial service and learnt the art of eloquence and public speaking, preparing for the position of the head of the community. However, later, Abay's interests and striving began contradicting his father's wishes, and at the age of 28 he abandoned the service, fully committing himself to a prolific artistic and poetic activity. Abay called the Kazakh society to social and economic changes, paid attention to the problems of the society and morals of the public, and aspired for the progressive development of the society, where he considered labour an important element for achieving wealth and abundance in society. He was sharply criticizing political quarrels, vanity, feudal mores of society and believed that "reason, science, will" should stand at the bases of social consciousness.
Abay wrote multiple poetic works in the style that was unique for the time, his poems "Iskander", "Masgud", "The Tale of Azim", and the famous and outstanding work "Book of Words", which is in substance a confession, a sincere conversation-interview with the reader about life, people, soul and world. With the help of this letter, Abay makes a conclusion for his life at the old age and passes on all his thoughts, lying deep in his soul. "Book of Words" is still a relevant and precious work that accurately dwells on the permanent truths of life and humanity. Abay translated to the Kazakh language a lot of works of the Russian classics (more than 50 works). He also made a significant contribution to the musical heritage of the national Kazakh art. Abay was writing songs, singing, and introduced the society to the new melodic rhythms, forms and principles of using the artistic-expressive means of language.
Abay's life was full of contradictions, fight, and unexpected twists. The deaths of his two sons were the last blows of fate, after which his health seriously deteriorated and later he died at the age of 60.
Book of Words
by Abay Kunanbayev
"Book of Words" - a marvelous book full of life wisdom, emotional turmoil and irrefutable truths from a great thinker, philosopher, poet and illuminator of the Kazakh Central Asian Culture in the 19th Century - Abay Kunanbayev.
It has made its way into the series of ingenious works and rare literary monuments of humanity. The book is undeniably one that you will always want to keep on hand.
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