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Mirza Fatali Akhundov

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Title: Mirza Fatali Akhundov  
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Subject: Theatre in Azerbaijan, Suleyman Sani Akhundov, Abdurrahim bey Hagverdiyev, Ali Nazem, Fuzûlî
Collection: 1812 Births, 1878 Deaths, Atheism Activists, Azerbaijani Atheists, Azerbaijani Former Shia Muslims, Azerbaijani Literary Critics, Azerbaijani Philosophers, Azerbaijani Writers, Azerbaijani-Language Writers, Ethnic Azerbaijani Philosophers, Imperial Russian Philosophers, Imperial Russian Writers, Iranian Azerbaijani Philosophers, Iranian Azerbaijani Revolutionaries, Iranian Azerbaijani Writers, Iranian Literary Critics, People from Shaki, People of the Persian Constitutional Revolution, Persian Language in Caucasus, Persian-Language Writers
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Mirza Fatali Akhundov

Mirza Fatali Akhundzade
Born (1812-07-12)12 July 1812
Nukha, Shaki Khanate
Died 9 March 1878(1878-03-09) (aged 65)
Tiflis, Tiflis Governorate
Occupation Playwright, philosopher

Mirza Fatali Akhundzade (Azerbaijani: Mirzə Fətəli Axundov) or Mirza Fath-Ali Akhundzade (Persian: میرزا فتحعلی آخوندزاده‎‎), also known as Akhundov (12 July 1812 in Nukha – 9 March 1878 in Tiflis), was a celebrated ethnic Azerbaijani author, playwright, philosopher, and founder of modern literary criticism,[1] "who acquired fame primarily as the writer of European-inspired plays in the Azeri Turkic language".[2] Akhundzade singlehandedly opened a new stage of development of Azerbaijani literature and is also considered one of the founders of modern Iranian literature. He was also the founder of materialism and atheism movement in Azerbaijan[3] and one of forerunners of modern Iranian nationalism.[4]


  • Life 1
  • Iranian nationalism 2
  • Alphabet Reform 3
  • Legacy 4
  • Bibliography 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Akhundzade was born in 1812 in uezd Armenian school, then in Nersisyan school. In Tiflis his acquaintance and friendship with the exiled Russian Decembrists Alexander Bestuzhev-Marlinsky, Vladimir Odoevsky, poet Yakov Polonsky, Armenian writers Khachatur Abovian, Gabriel Sundukyan and others played some part in formation of Akhundzade's Europeanized outlook.

Grave monument of Akhundzade in Tbilisi

Akhundzade's first published work was The Oriental Poem (1837) written to lament the death of the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. But the rise of Akhundzade's literary activity comes in the 1850s. In the first half of the 1850s, Akhundzade wrote six comedies – the first comedies in Azerbaijani literature as well as the first samples of the national dramaturgy. The comedies by Akhundzade are unique in their critical pathos, analysis of the realities in Azerbaijan of the first half of the 19th century. These comedies found numerous responses in the Russian other foreign periodical press. The German Magazine of Foreign Literature called Akhundzade "dramatic genius", "the Azerbaijani Molière" 1. Akhundzade's sharp pen was directed against everything that hindered the way of progress, freedom and enlightenment, and at the same time his comedies were imbued with the feeling of faith in the bright future of the Azerbaijani people.

In 1859 Akhundzade published his short but famous novel The Deceived Stars. In this novel he laid the foundation of Azerbaijani realistic historical prose, giving the models of a new genre in Azerbaijani literature. By his comedies and dramas Akhundzade established realism as the leading trend in Azerbaijani literature.

In the 1920s, the Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre was named after Akhundzade.

According to Professor Ronald Grigor Suny:

Turkish nationalism, which developed in part as a reaction to the nationalism of the Christian minorities [of the Ottoman Empire], was, like Armenian nationalism, heavily influenced by thinkers who lived and were educated in the Russian Empire. The Crimean Tatar Ismail Bey Gasprinski and the Azerbaijani writer Mirza Fath Ali Akhundzade inspired Turkish intellectuals in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.[6]

According to Professor Tadeusz Swietochowski:

In his glorification of the pre-Islamic greatness of Iran, before it was destroyed at the hands of the "hungry, naked and savage Arabs, "Akhundzada was one of the forerunners of modern Iranian nationalism, and of its militant manifestations at that. Nor was he devoid of anti-Ottoman sentiments, and in his spirit of the age-long Iranian Ottoman confrontation he ventured into his writing on the victory of Shah Abbas I over the Turks at Baghdad. Akhundzade is counted as one of the founders of modern Iranian literature, and his formative influence is visible in such major Persian-language writers as Malkum Khan, Mirza Agha Khan and Mirza Abd ul-Rahim Talibi. All of them were advocates of reforms in Iran. If Akhundzade had no doubt that his spiritual homeland was Iran, Azerbaijan was the land he grew up and whose language was his native tongue. His lyrical poetry was written in Persian, but his work that carry messages of social importance as written in the language of the people of his native land, azari. With no indication of split-personality, he combined larger Iranian identity with Azerbaijani - he used the term vatan (fatherland) in reference to both.[4]

Akhundzade also supported the Russian empire. According to Walter Kolarz:

The greatest Azerbaidzhani poet of the nineteenth century, Mirza Fathali Akhundov (1812-78), who is called the "Molière of the Orient", was so completely devoted to the Russian cause that he urged his compatriots to fight Turkey during the Crimean War.[7]

Iranian nationalism

Akhundzadeh, Mirza Aqa Khan Kermani and Jalal al Din Mirza Qajar are the forerunners of intellectual romantic Iranian nationalism.[8] Akhundzadeh proudly identified himself as belonging to the nation of Iran (mellat-e Irān) and to the Iranian homeland ( waṭan ). He influenced Jālāl-al-Din Mirzā (a son of Bahman Mirza Qajar) through friendship and correspondence as well as Mirza Aqa Khan Kermani. Jalāl al-Dīn Mirza (1826–70), a Qajar prince, initiated the reconstruction of Iranian national history in his Nāme-ye Khosravan (Book of the Monarchs), the first history textbook for Dar ul-Funun in simple Persian, purified of Arabic words.Mirza Aqa Khan Kermani (1854–96) followed Jalāl-al-Din Mirzā in producing a national history of Iran, Āʾina-ye sekandari, extending from the mythological past to the Qajar era, to compare and contrast Iran’s glorious past with its present plight.[8]

Alphabet Reform

Well ahead of his time, Akhundzade was a keen advocate for alphabet reform, recognizing deficiencies of Perso-Arabic script with regards to Turkic sounds. He began his work regarding alphabet reform in 1850. His first efforts focused on modifying the Perso-Arabic script so that it would more adequately satisfy the phonetic requirements of the Azerbaijani language. First, he insisted that each sound be represented by a separate symbol - no duplications or omissions. The Perso-Arabic script expresses only three vowel sounds, whereas Azeri needs to identify nine vowels. Later, he openly advocated the change from Perso-Arabic to a modified Latin alphabet. The Latin script which was used in Azerbaijan between 1922 and 1939, and the Latin script which is used now, were based on Akhundzade's third version.


Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater named after Akhundov

Beside of his role in Georgia that focuses on Georgian-Azerbaijani cultural relations is also named after him.

Punik, town in Armenia was also named in the honour of Akhundzade until very recently. TURKSOY hosted a groundbreaking ceremony to declare 2012 as year of Mirza Fatali Akhundzade.


He published many works on literary criticism:

  • Qirītīkah ("Criticism")
  • Risālah-i īrād ("Fault-finding treatise")
  • Fann-i kirītīkah ("Art of criticism")
  • Darbārah-i Mullā-yi Rūmī va tasnīf-i ū ("On Rumi and his work")
  • Darbārah-i nazm va nasr ("On verse and prose")
  • Fihrist-i kitāb ("Preface to the book")
  • Maktūb bih Mīrzā Āqā Tabrīzī ("Letter to Mīrzā Āqā Tabrīzī")
  • Uṣūl-i nigārish ("Principles of writing")


  1. ^ Parsinejad, Iraj. A History of Literary Criticism in Iran (1866-1951). He lived in the Russian Empire. Bethesda, MD: Ibex, 2003. p. 44.
  2. ^ Millar, James R. Encyclopedia of Russian History. MacMillan Reference USA. p. 23.  
  3. ^ M. Iovchuk (ed.) et el. [The Philosophical and Sociological Thought of the Peoples of the USSR in the 19th Century]. Moscow: Mysl, 1971.
  4. ^ a b Tadeusz Swietochowski, Russia and Azerbaijan: A Borderland in Transition (New York: Columbia University Press), 1995, page 27-28:
  5. ^ Shissler, A. Holly (2003). Between Two Empires: Ahmet Agaoglu and the New Turkey. I.B. Tauris. p. 104.  
  6. ^ Ronald Grigor Suny Looking Toward Ararat: Armenia in Modern History. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana State University, 1993. page 25
  7. ^ Kolarz W. Russian and Her Colonies. London . 1953. pp 244-245
  8. ^ a b Ashraf, AHMAD. "IRANIAN IDENTITY iv. 19TH-20TH CENTURIES". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 18 September 2011. 
  9. ^ Ахундов М. Ф. - Великие люди - Атеисты

External links

  • Biography.
  • Akhundov: Alphabet Reformer Before His Time, Azerbaijan International, Vol 8:1 (Spring 2000).
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