From the Aiil* to the Cosmos
Chingiz Aitmatov Interviewed by Kalpana Sahni
Kalpana Sahni: What is your assessment of the recent flowering of literature, art and culture in the Asiatic Republics of the USSR as also in Georgia and Armenia ?
Chingiz Aitmatov: This question is a separate theme in itself and requires a very detailed analysis. But I am of the firm opinion that the influence of the Russian classics and that of contemporary Russian literature in these regions has been decisive. Russian history was such that its literature became the expression of the people s spirit It look a lot upon itself And for that reason there existed a special kind of reverence towards literature, towards the written word, as also towards the writer. Close contact with European literature enabled it to simultaneously amalgamate that experience and create a totally unique literature capable of depicting a whole range of complexities. So, when other literatures entered its orbit they too were strongly influenced by Russian literature. This applies to Georgia and Armenia as well, both of which had their own ancient written culture. This is one of the main factors responsible for the resurgence, and applies even more so to the Asiatic Republics. It just so happened that the two things occurred simultaneously. Our acquaintance with Russian literature grew side by side with the fact that it also began to serve as a measure of values for us, for it was there, right next to us. All of a sudden we acquired an aesthetic system for evaluating, so to speak, the development of a truly good literature.
Now, lefs take Afghanistan. It is also an Asiatic country next to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. However, it does not have such a developed contemporary literature as ours because it has not experienced this influence. The Asiatic regions of the USSR are today at a historical stage where they are very rapidly and successfully assimilating creative discoveries and thought processes as opposed to other regions like Afghanistan with an ancient written tradition. A kind of
Journal of Arts & Ideas 5 * Aiil — Kirghizian settlement.