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Accepted Paper:

Death Scenes and Narrative Form in Kazakh Oral Epic: Tölegen and Qyz Zhibek  
Gabriel McGuire (Nazarbayev University)

Paper long abstract:

In this paper, I discuss a translation of one of the key scenes in the Kazakh oral epic Qyz Zhibek (The Silk Maiden). The text is translated from the most widely-studied and published version of the epic, an edition prepared by the aqyn, translator, and editor Zhüsipbek Qozha Shaykhyslamuly (1857-1937) and first printed in Kazan in 1900. Multiple other versions exist, including both an 1887 transcription of a performance by the singer Musabay Zhirau made near Qazaly fortress in south Kazakhstan, several Soviet-era recordings of performances by other bards, as well as adaptions for the opera (1934) and cinema (1970). The structure of all of the oral epic texts is one of mirrored narrative multiforms: in the first half, the hero Tölegen departs his home, courts, and marries Qyz Zhibek, only to be murdered while travelling alone across the steppe; in the second, Tölegen's younger brother Sansyzbay follows the same path, departing to court and marry Qyz Zhibek, but unlike his brother he fights and kills his adversary on his return trip. This translation focuses on a scene found in the versions of both Musabay Zhirau and Zhüsipbek Qozha: Tölegen, dying from an arrow wound, looks up to see a flock of geese pass and bids them carry word of his death back to his family. In discussing the translation of Tölegen's words, the paper analyses the place of this scene within Zhüsipbek Qozha's text, the distinction between this version of the scene versus those in other texts, and the larger question of how this scene might be compared with other examples of death of the hero type scenes as they are found within the broader tradition of oral epic poetry.

Panel LIT-01
Oral Literature in Translation
  Session 1 Friday 11 October, 2019, -