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A novel Bas by Rakhymzhan Otarbayev and world lite...

14.09.2020 1743

A novel Bas by Rakhymzhan Otarbayev and world literature 12+

A novel Bas by Rakhymzhan Otarbayev and world literature -

If one of the important features of fictional work is the theme and idea, then these features are combined and will lead to an unshakable trend in the works of Rakhymzhan Otarbayev. In particular, it can be noted that the idea of ​​his works is unique that it comes into contact with one big philosophical meaning in the exposition and solution. For example, the story begins with a wide scope in the short novel "Tears of Genghis Khan" (Shyngys khannyn koz zhasy): «Another morning has come. Whom will it make happy?..» and shows the beauty of this era, where a furious khan had ruled, who held half the world in his fist, if he wants he grants a pardon, if he does not want – he doesn`t. In the decision of the essay, completed with the death of the main character, he indicates that the Era of Chingiz is over and summarizes: “Another day has passed. Whom will he grieve? .. ”[1, 9]. At the end of the famous novel "Bass" there is a moment where an author writes: “On this day, all the authoritative news agencies of the world loudly proclaimed: “Sensation! A head of the poet Makhambet was found”. There is no one who pricked up the ears of this joyful news in their native land, which lifts the spirit of a person. They didn't even flinch” [2,127].

How can the manifestation of indifference and apathy be prevented in society? Perhaps, a head of Makhambet must speak for this? Indeed, a skull gave a voice before the beginning of the novel:

“Hey, Noel, pulled me out of my grave to throw me in Almaty? What is this horror? – From the jaw bones, that made a clicking sound, this word was heard clearly ...” [2, 72].

One of the ways invented to awaken an emaciated society can be seen from one grotesque. At the same time, Kazakh community shudders and regrets only when it feels fear or it is very frightened. This indicates how much the disease of apathy has spread within society.

In this novel, an author seeks to draw an attention not only to the problem of one country, but also to what has spread in the whole human society like a pandemic.

The biggest of them is career, power, and money, which is above both. There is not much time has passed when a well-known novel of R. Otarbayev “Bas” was published in Kazakhstan, therefore, the writer's interest in this novel also prevails. This novel is the head of Makhambet, who was ripped off by his enemies when he fought for the independence of his country, his role in the degree of a symbol that can awaken the spirit of entire people, and also does not require a high spirit, and does not respect the spirit of ancestors, starting from expanding the range of careless society separated from considerations of the integrity of the nation moves to a lack of spirituality, immorality, a renunciation of moral character for the personal gain that were spread all over the world. An author brings the problem to the entire human level, that he raises, with the help of an overgrowth from the single thing to the universal. The chain of events is the impetus and continuation of each other, the actions go beyond the borders of our country and unfold in the distant American land.

A problem is the search for the missing head of Makhambet. The main seekers are divided into two general groups - the persecutors of humanism (Noel, Kurak kart, Dauren, Ayim, Imash, Gerasimov and so on), the second are the people with unscrupulous intentions who seek to receive a reward of millions of dollars per head (Ykas, Baymakhan, Kayup Esimovich, Kashgaria, Duriya, Zhorik, Slava, General Hughes, etc.).

An author also points out that the development of society and its virtues is hindered by those who have power, that are civil servants. Those who made a lot of money with rough funds got big seats. National values ​​do not matter for them, the contradictory dialogue and actions smell like bureaucracy here. Because of such immoral people, the skull of the poet Makhambet had disappeared and laid at the unknown basement of Almaty for many years.

A psychological novel of the Booker Prize laureate Iris Murdoch “A Severed Head” [3] comes to mind. In his novel, I. Murdoch reveals the degree of immorality in human relations and what it leads to. A severed head is a metaphor in Murdoch`s work, and the author wants to say that humanity seems to be left without a head in the absence of good and morality. From the point of view of the idea, there is a similar harmony in two works.

A world recognizes the great Russian Writer L. Tolstoy as a skillful writer, really capable of conveying delicate relationships between characters, it is clear that R. Otarbayev has something in common with L. Tolstoy in creating various characters. In the novel “Bas”, the author depicts the behavior of such characters as Ikas, Kayip, Kashkaria with sarcasm, humor and different brightness in accordance with their actions, and the character Kurak Shal is a national character. At the same time, there is a subtle difference between critical criticism of the author and advocacy of kindness that enhances the beauty of work.

In the novel “Bass”, the author quotes a great Russian poet Pushkin in several places: “By the way, Pushkin also came here, and he wanted to turn Pugachev's Rebellion into a work of fiction. Dahl was nearby. During that trip, the great poet said: "A river flowed with blood from Guryev town”. There are many such thoughts in his writings, and his own insight is a reflection of the intellectual characteristic of the writer. It is not for nothing that the author considers a wartime in this context: "How did such a frightening double line hang on the tip of a pen?" [2.77]. A bloodlust of the lame Timur is described as follows: “Rivers of blood flowed from all four sides of his path and flooded all the ravines. He built a minaret and palaces with high towers from the skull of a conquered country”. [4].

This reminds of Edil (Attila), Genghis Khan, Lame Timur, Alexander the Great, who tried to conquer the world in turbulent times, when the strongest people brought the weak to their knees: genocidal wars, inexhaustible invasions, bloodiness. All this is described in the novel "Bass":

“Where is King Attila, in front of whom the Pope crawled in his time himself and kissed his hand? -Noel said furiously. An ancestor Beibarys, did you not enter the tomb of the prophet Davud on the horseback? You also broke down the roof of the door that other people entered, folding into two. I will not bow, I will not bend my head. Where is this ambitious spirit! Where are these heads?! " [2,111].

When the author says, “The river was flowing with blood”, he seems to be referring to those turbulent times. The days, when it was okay to chop off an enemy's head during a duel or to behead a detained prisoner, are gone. After Queen Tumar, who took the head of King Cyrus and put it in a sack full of blood, there is a saying: "The snow removes the head of the snow, only the khan takes the head of the khan". A lot of research has been carried out on Lecon de Lille's poem "Malay Pantuns" about the severed head [5]. Many literary scholars have tried to solve the mystical riddle of this poem, translated by the famous N. Gumilyov. An artist Moreau painted a severed head hovering in the air and shining around at one time. Gauff's motif was also found in the works of Baudelaire and Rambo, such as “Zhendet menin de basymdy kesti” (An executioner cut off my head too).

In general, the metaphor "Head" is very common in world literature. Depicting an extreme immorality in society, famous authors want to explain the meaninglessness of the future life, the absence of a future without kindness with the metaphor of the severed head. R. Otarbayev's novel "Bass", referring to the same idea, is in the harmony with world literature. For example, Agutagawa Ryunosuke's story "The Story of How the Head Fall Off" is a psychological novel. He Xiao Er, who was a spy during the Sino-Japanese War, is escaping, clinging to the horse's mane, with a sword hitting the back of his head. He does not want to die so much that, regaining consciousness, drowning in blood, he is struggling to save his life. He prayed to God for forgiveness and could not hold back his tears, his wish "If I survive ..." came true [6]. When the war ended and he became famous, He Xiao Er drank heavily and went astray. Agutagawa hinted that He Xiao Er's character was "cursed" as his old wound on his neck was exposed and his head fell off on its own.

R. Otarbayev believes in his destiny, in the Novel “Bass”. A dialogue of ghosts in the work, a skull engaged in speaking, an inscription that suddenly appeared - ensure that characters such as Noel, Dauren, Ayim will not deviate from the right path on the way to their goals:

"Noel's entire body rang, it seems as though he was losing consciousness. A small apartment in Almaty ... Anxious thoughts overcame, and he was on the edge ... Makhambet's skull ... Suddenly an inscription appearing on his forehead ... What did he say? "Honorable and a respectable Muslim is your destiny. Choose and be comforted "[2,111].

A role of an unsolved mystery and mysticism in the novel is great. The author does not exclude belief in fate, sacred objects, ghosts. In this sense, the idea of ​​the novel has something in common with the story of Ambrose Bierce "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" [7]. When Bierce's hero is about to be hanged, the rope breaks and he jumps into a destructive stream. When he escaped the death, he escaped a hard water and bullets, that hit him, and when he returned home and bent down to kiss his wife, the sword hit his back of the head and beheaded him. In Otarbayev's novel, the sword of traitors suddenly beheaded Makhambet as well. An idea that lies here is that "You cannot escape from the destiny and predestined death". Makhambet, who survived in the fierce battles and massacres, was unexpectedly beheaded.

This work of R. Otarbayev, filled with reflections and deep thoughts, in its intellectual qualities can be compared with the depth of Oscar Wilde, Umberto Eco, Aubrey Beardsley, Leo Tolstoy. An author pays a great attention to the inner reflections of the characters. A main character Noel is a renowned anthropologist, whose knowledge and experience are in demand in all countries that want to study the past and revive traces of history through excavations in any country of the historical value. Although his country does not need a qualified anthropologist, Noel is an invaluable expert for Moscow scholars. He will also travel to the distant America with Russian expedition. R. Otarbayev wants to show the consequences of being a victim of colonialism, and not to fight against mankurt and indifference, showing the history of the Indians who disappeared from the face of the earth. There is a dialogue in the novel:

“- A whole world knows the famous Apache!

- We saw in the movies!

- We read it in the book!” [2.91]. Indeed, Kazakh audience and reader are familiar with the image of Apache, who rides a horse and jumps with five types of weapons.

“We read his book,” he said, probably referring to “The Aztecs” by Gary Jennigo, “The Headless Horseman”, “Osceola The Seminole: The Red Fawn of the Flower Land” by Mayne Reid, “The Pathfinder” and “The Last of the Mohicans” by James Cooper, Indian people who fought for their independence until their last breath. You can learn about the history, life and spiritual world of the Indian people from these works. A novel "Bass" talks about books and films depicting the current leader of the Apache tribe: "This all is an invention of the white man" - he says hostilely, and he takes Harlin Geronimo, who has fought for the independence and against whites for 30 years, as a symbolic figure of Indian people [2, 91]. We see the pride and ambition of Makhambet in the actions of Geronimo, who cut off her husband's head so that he would not be insulted. R. Otarbayev wants to show that a tragic destiny of Kazakh and Indian peoples is similar. A similar destiny of Kazakh-Indians in the novel "Bas" is well described by the literary critic Professor Serik Yelikbay in the article "Arda is the white side of the word": A writer deliberately draws attention to the terrible situation. A destiny of Apache, who cut off her husband's head so that he would not be insulted, is simultaneously touching and understandable for Kazakhs. The history of Kazakhstan and Indians is common. You can obviously destroy an owner and get the land. The son of his nation, Noel, thinks about it and he is tormented” [8].

“... To conquer the Indians, we divided the Inca, Maya and Apache tribes. We gave them weapons. They were addicted to alcohol. We've heated up competition. They made me fight for power. In the end, they slaughtered each other like cattle. A national honor has been lost ... They were easily caught. I believe that this experience will bring excellent results in the future, if it is applied to other countries. Your task has been accomplished ...”, the novel says [2,113]. An author secretly explains that Russian colonialists used these methods for Kazakhs precisely. It was written on the vessel found during excavations in Kazakhstan: “I was the same as you”, and Noel reads: “You will become the same as me” from the other half of the same jug found in America. An author wants to say two things by this: first of all, there is a relationship between Kazakhs and Indians; secondly: "If you do not wake up now, then it will be too late: the same fate awaits you as the Indians who have lost their land forever". In the same way, an author intrigues the reader until the second half of the pitcher is found, and then when the full meaning of the word is discovered and when the other half of the pitcher is found, the author propagates a general idea of the novel. It is recalled how Gabriel García Marquez intrigued the reader the same way in the work “One Hundred Years of Solitude”. After all, a hero of Marquez, a genius Melquiades, could not reveal the secret of writing on parchment and spent his whole life on it. After the death of Melquiades, the secret of the letter was revealed at the end of the novel, in which it was written: “The first member in the family will be tied to a tree, the last one in the family will be eaten by ants” [9]. Hence, we see the similarity of the methods of concealing intellectual mysteries in the works of R. Otarbayev and G. Marquez. Like the kind-hearted Kazakhs in the novel who are looking for the missing head of Makhambet, the rest of the descendants of the Indians will tell their sorrows to Noel:

Ten years later, Prescott Bush dug up the dried Apache skull.

- For what?

- Every recruit in the United States swears by kissing my grandfather's skull.

- Swears?

- Yes. They want to become cruel and ruthless to their enemy, even an extreme killer! Therefore, they do not return him” [2, 111].

A dream of the leader of the Indian tribe is to return the head of the hero's grandfather and bury him again. And Noel has a dream, let the head of Makhambet be found, and the head of our ancestor Kenesary, who stands in the Hermitage, be returned. This is the dream of two sad people of the Kazakh nation and an Indian tribe who lived on both sides of the world.

An author reveals the role of money in the era of immorality. When one million dollars is offered on Makhambet's head as a prize, a real struggle of money-loving geeks begins, and they try to do some tricks. It shows how not only Kazakhstanis, but also foreigners interested in significant rewards, began to fuss. Even some immoral people have drawn up a strategic plan: "We need to cut off the head of Saddam Hussein, M. Gaddafi in the grave, it looks like the heads of Muslims eventually become very valuable."

In the novel, the author shows a prototype of Imangali Tasmagambetov - Imash, who thought about the future and the integrity of the country:

“This is the situation, guys,” said the chairman, getting up and going to the window. - We still call him a protector, a phenomenon. All we do is that we publish books. Hundreds and thousands of valuable documents are stored in foreign archives. Who will return them to our country and put them into spiritual circulation? How much can you worry about this? Our Al-Farabi remained in the desert. Beibarys remained in Damascus. We have lost the hero Zhalantos. Sixty years later, Shakarim's bones were collected piece by piece from the pit. Mustafa Shokay is in a foreign country. We forgot about Syrym and Karatau. Now we are losing the head of Makhambet, which is in our hands now. I have never heard such horror ... ”[2, 96].

In the novel "Bass", the author is looking for the lost head of Makhambet, including the lost ambitious spirit, character, values, language and mentality of Kazakhs. A society without a head is a corrupt society, the end of which is the loss of land forever, and the fate of the Indian people will await us.

If you analyze the theme of the novel "Bass", you will notice that the author hides a very deep meaning: the lost head of Makhambet; Kazakhstani society without a leader (head) is engulfed in globalization; A beginning of the era of Independent Kazakhstan in the civilization of globalization (finally, the head of Makhambet was found and buried); A beginning of the awakening of Kazakh society (as evidenced by the actions of the characters who caused the discovery of the head). The author does not lose hope for the future.

Rakhymzhan Otarbayev is a leading writer of independent literature. His works will rise to the level of world classics - it's just a matter of time. I can say with confidence that his novel "Bass", a short novel "Tears of Genghis Khan" and innovative stories deserve to be on the shelves next to the priceless masterpieces of world literature.


  1. Otarbayev R. Shyngys khannyn koz zhasy / R. Otarbayev // Tan Sholpan, 2014. - No. 1.-P.9-58.
  2. Otarbayev, R. Bas: novel / R. Otarbayev // Ult bolmysy. - 2019. - No. 3. Nauryz.
  3. Murdoch A. The severed head: novel / A. Murdock // Moscow: AST, 2009.
  4. Masirepov G. Belderde: stories and short stories / Ғ. Masirepov / - Almaty: Writer, 1965. - 326 p.
  6. Ryunosuke A. Story about how the head fell off / translation from Japanese by Feldman N. - OCR & spellcheck by HarryFan, October 1, 2000
  9. Garcia Márquez G. One hundred years of loneliness: a novel / G. Garcia Márquez // - Almaty: Zhalyn, 1985. – 424 p.

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