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  • Kazakhstan had a strong oral tradition in literature until the mid-19th century. Abai (Ibrahim) Kunanbayev (1845–1904) was a Kazakh poet and teacher, and the key figure in developing a new Kazakh national written literature. His father, Kunanbai Uskenbayev, was a landowner, and the family was prominent in eastern Kazakhstan. Abai studied at the madrassa led by Mullah Akhmet Riza in Semipalatinsk and also attended a Russian school. He spoke Arabic, Persian, and other Eastern languages. Abai Kunanbayev also translated into Kazakh works by major European and Russian poets, such as Goethe, Heine, Pushkin, Lermontov, and Krylov. His education enabled Abai to adapt Russian ideas and literature to Kazakh needs, contributing to the development of a secular culture. Abai Kunanbayev introduced novel themes and subjects into his poetry, and many of his verses are lyrical monologues. Themes of nature and love mix with philosophical reflections and ideas of enlightenment and humanity. Only a few of his poems were published during Abai’s life. This is his first collection, Qazaq Aqyny Ibrahim Qunanbay Oghlynyng Olangy (Verses of the Kazakh poet Abai Ibrahim Kunanbayev), published in Saint Petersburg in 1909. In this example, the first few pages became so worn that handwritten text now substitutes for the perished leaves.

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  • Saint Petersburg

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  • قازاق آقني ابراهيم قونانباى اوغلي ننك اولانكي

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