National originality of I. Esenberlin's artistic style (based on the trilogy «The nomads»)

The article discussesthe issues of national originality of the artistic style of the Kazakh writerI. Esenberlin. The object of the research is the epic trilogy «The Nomads» (1978) by I. Esenberlin, whichdescribes the centuries-old struggle of the Kazakh nation for an independent state, and most fully displays the uniquenessof the writer's style. The urgency of the problem stems from the lack of a comprehensive analysis of expressive means of the language used by the author to disclose original national thinking of nomadic people. The authors analyze such visual and expressive means of the Kazakh language as comparison, metaphor, metonymy, epithet, phraseological units that reflect the originality of the national culture in the trilogy. The national coloring of poetic images is determined mainly by the comparison of phenomena and objects characteristic of nomadic life, which are quite a lot in the work, since the aesthetic experience of the people has been accumulated for many centuries.


An artistic style of a writer, according to the dictionary of literary terms, is «an aesthetic property of a work of art, or commonality of all parties and elements of a work, which gives it its uniqueness and orig- inality» [1; 201]. Moreover, it is a method of artistic expressionand is characterized by high level of emotionality and picturesque imagery of speech. A writer uses possibilities of various styles, expressive vocabulary, various literary devices in order to produce an aesthetic impact on the reader. The works of famous Russian and Kazakh scientists, such as A.M. Peshkovsky, L.V. Scherba, V.V. Vinogradov, G.O. Vinokur, R. Syzdyk, Z. Bisengali, K.M. Jukusheva, M.B. Balakayev, R. G.Syzdykova, E.N. Zhanpeisov, S.M. Isayev, are devoted to issues of an artistic style of a writer. The academician R. Syzdykargues that «themes, a composition, a style and descriptions of historical novels show the pinnacle of Kazakh artistic word» [2; 19]. The Kazakh literary theorist Z.K. Bisengali believes that «among all other literary genres, opportunities of the genre of historical novel are especially great, since human and social, events and problems might be displayedon a large scale, clearly in time and space, in artistic language, and with the use of a variety of tools» [3; 34].

National character, spiritual culture, worldview, mentality — all are embodied in the national language, which forms and preserves an ethnic group. The Russian linguist S.G. Ter-Minasovaclaims that «the language is a treasury, a storeroom, and a piggy bank of culture. It stores cultural values of a nation in vocabulary, grammar, idioms, proverbs, sayings, folklore, art, and literature in the forms of written and oral speech» [4; 5].


I. Esenberlin discloses original national culture with the help of such literary devices as comparison, metaphor, metonymy, epithet, and phraseological units. National coloring of poetic images is determined by comparing phenomena and objects which are specific to nomadic way of life. The novel is rich in such artistic images because the aesthetic experience of the nation has been built up over many centuries. However, national features of artistic thinking are defined not by the breadth of the use of figurative expressions, as Z.A. Akhmetova points out, but by originality of artistic and aesthetic evaluation of phenomena and objects [5; 88].

The use of comparison, or the stylistic device based on comparing objects and states with one another, contributes to the birth of vivid figurative associations, which allowed the writer to reveal national imaginative thinking fully and vividly. The choice of objects and phenomena for comparison says much about the lifestyle of nomadic people and their system of values. Since life of nomads was closely connected with nature, then comparisons are based on analogies with surrounding nature, life of domestic and wild animals, as well as ancient mythology and weaponry. Comparison has introduced a special poetry of live folk language to the narrative.

Poetic comparisons associated with the steppe landscape and natural forces are inherent in Kazakh poetry and prose:

«My soul, broad as the steppe, is placed in your little palm».

«The Khan's policy is similar to the changeable spring wind and variesaccording to the circumstances».

«The multy-thousand detachment of tulengutsstormed overlike an avalanche in the mountains».

«Rageis like a frenetic river washing everything away in its path. The more it rages, the shallowerit flows then».

«Human blood has become similar toregular water in the river for the Khan».

The analogy with running water conveys movement and rhythm in the following example: «The Kazakh troops rushed over to the valleys like a spring brook flooding the desert».

Kazakhs use comparisons with animals and birds more often than any other nation because such expressions convey a special attitude of nomadic people toward animals, which is possible only in a pastoral society. In Z.A. Akhmetov's view, poetic images of animals and birds have national-specific features for two reasons: first, they are characteristic only for steppe and desert areas, and, secondly, such word combinations have become fixed in Kazakh literature [5; 45]:

«The old man came to an end of his story like a racing horse».

«Kuralai rushed to the falling young man with the cry of a mortally wounded bird».

Interestingly, Kazakh batyrs (heroes, warriors) are compared with animals and birds, which are sacred for Kazakhs, such as a horse, a camel, a golden eagle, and a lark. Such comparisons bear a definite positive connotation in the text:

«Syzdyk rushed over to the village like a colt released from the leash».

«Suddenly, ZholamanBatyr leaned forward like a steppe eagle noticed by a fox».

«Allthough our people are small like larks, they could rise higher than now».

Jungars and Chinese, the enemies of nomads, are frequently compared with predators and reptiles. Analogies with jackals, vultures, and cobras have always been associated with negative characteristics, such as cunning, malice, meanness, cowardice in the minds of Kazakhs. Such figures of speech have a pronounced negative estimation in the novel:

«The Chinese rulers, like predatory vultures, watched closely everything that was done in Mogolistan».

«People were slaughtering one another like wolves, and flowers have sprouted in Mizhhiria».

«Khans, emirs, hakims like wolves from different packsbroke into one herd, growling, looking around, watching one another».

«Wise Bukhar-Zhyrau knew the Chinese emperors' nature of the beast. He said that they are greedier than starving jackals, and urged the Kazakhs to sharpen their pikes».

«The rulers of Sozak and Sygnak like cobra embarked on their tails hissed at the approaching Kazakh army».

Sometimes comparisons are based on body parts of animals:

«Our steppe Desht and Kipchakareare as spacious as a camel's skin».

«The steppe looked like a raccoon coat pulled out of a stuffy chest».

Extended comparisons amaze the reader with their depth and originality of poetic language. Such comparisons clearly manifest the author's point of view, who does not provide a positive or negative assessment of the characters directly, but through an accurate choice of analogies: «After the death of Shah Haydar the companions of Abulkhayr began to break away from the Horde. They were like mutts which bark only from their master's doorsteps. And when it was necessary to act independently, like greyhounds chasing a wolf, they tucked their tails quickly» [6; 40]. The colloquial expression «mutt», «tuck tails» convey the author's ironic attitude toward the renegade khans.

The juxta position of «wolf» and the «wolf-dog» illustrates a deep irreconcilable antagonism of the parties»: They hovered near each other like a mother wolf and ferocious wolfhounds and waited for the moment when they could grab each other's throat, and then roll on the ground in a mortal combat» [6; 58].

The analogy between the Dzungarian army and a bulldog in the following example indicates the extreme degree of danger bearing down on the Kazakh steppe: «Junggars were like a bulldog which clings to the throat and does not let go of its prey. And this bulldog slowly, persistently, every summer ever closer was reaching for the main vein of the Kazakh country's neck» [6; 201]. As it is known, the bulldog is one of the most dangerous fighting species of dogs and is not orious for its aggressiveness and resistance to training.

In another example, the first comparison of the enemy army with a bull also indicates a threat to the Kazakh army, while the next analogy between the Kazakh militia and a swarm of gadflies hints at the possibility of victory over the enemy due to numerous lightning attacks: «The army of Shah Haidar looks like a powerful bull. And one big bull is the easiest to be overpowered by gadflies attacking from different sides. They swoop and sting it until it is unable to bear the torture, and the bull raises its tail and runs away without even giving it a second thought» [6; 98].

The history of nomads is a history of recurrent wars against foreign invaders and internal feuds. That is why carrying of weapons was the duty of each member of nomadic society. The weapon as one of the main components of material culture of Kazakh people is displayed in the following figurative comparisons:

«All ten of your sons and my brothers look like damask daggers».

«The heart of Sultan Kasim's heart was pierced by these words like by a sharp dagger».

The Kazakh nation has rich folklore traditions which have been passed from generation to generation by word of mouth since ancient times. That is why many comparisons are based on mythological images:

«Man on the Khan's throne feels like riding a fire-breathing hydra. To avoid being swallowed by it, he must feed it with his father's or his son's flesh. That has always been the only price to pay for the power over other people» [6; 87].

«Human grief is like Iskander's horns… If it is not shared with anyone, it grows with its tips inside the man, wounding his soul deeper and deeper [7].

At the household level, simple and clear analogies with human body parts were often drawn:

«Since we are the torso, then you are the head. How long will the head live without the body? If you think about it, the snow will catch the fire [7].

«Like tuberculosis erodes a patient's chest, so does Genghis' passion for conquest» [6; 92].

«The accords became muffled as if the dombra were soaked with blood» [7].

The author of the novel also uses another kind of comparison, the metaphor, which stems from an a analogy between objects and pinpoints their general features. In the trilogy, the metaphor is one of the most common artistic tropes which is used for creation of vivid and memorable images. Metaphors, as well as comparisons, are usually based on an analogy between animals and humans. This trend is quite natural for people who leaded a nomadic lifestyle: «I think you should speak to the wolf (Abulkhair) like a wolf. I don't think he understands any other language. And we are not wretched saigas» [6; 54]. Comparison of the wolf with the saiga on the ground of force is characteristic only for the Kazakh language, since the habitat of saigasis Asian steppes and semi-deserts.

The next trope, based on the analogy with ants, emphasizes a huge quantity of enemy troops: «That year the bogdykhans were creeping and creeping to the Dzhungarian gate with ants' persistence» [6; 111].

The fixed expression «black snake» in another metaphor is used to create an image of a man who is hatching evil plans: «A black snake settled in Konur Kuldzha's chest and gave him no rest until he had a chance to revenge» [6; 226].

There are many metaphors in the novel which are based on comparing negative traits of a hero with distinctive characteristics of a snake. Thus, the following extended metaphor illustrates evil intentions of the khan: «The snake curled up in a ball in Khan's chest and did not unfold. At the last moment, the image of a man stepping on the tail of a sleeping snake flashed through Khan's mind. The snake wakes up all at once and bites to death, because it has accumulated poison during hibernation. Who know show much poison has been accumulated in this Akzhol-biy, and whether he is going toun leash it all at a time when biting an unprotected place» [6; 211].

In another fragment, a country is compared to a river on the basis of magnitude: «Russia is a great river, and we are only a small brook. And I am struggling to let it flow like it used to do from century to century» [6; 502]. Thus, it is possible to conclude from this metaphor that the Kazakh Khanate was inferior to Russia in size.

The analogy between enemies of the nomads with wolves and jackals has a derogatory connotative meaning in the following metaphor: «Who might count on all these wolves and jackals, who, chasing one deer, bite one another? Even wolves don't do that. We can subdue all of them only with sharp fangs» [6; 21].

Another extended metaphor has specific national colouring: «Khan Ablay managed to serve as a cushion between the White King and Chinese Emperor for a long time, and when they tried to lean against it on one side, prickly feathers were crawling out of the cushion. Now the cushion has long been without a pillowcase, and feathers are flying out of it in the wind. Russian troops are pushing from one side, fierce Khiva has grabbed almost a third of the Kazakh lands from the second side, cunning and treacherous Kokand is crawling from the third side» [6; 256]. Here the lexeme «cushion» means a tool for reducing the force of impact in a collision, which is defined by the term «buffer» in the modern language. In the Kazakh language, this metaphor is based on a household object used by nomads in their everyday life. This example is also notable for the use of metonymy with the names of the cities of Khiva and Kokandfor Uzbek conquerors.

Metonymy, or a literary device in which the name of one concept is used for another with which it is closely associated, is broadly used in the trilogy. In contrast with metaphor, which is based on similarity, metonymy works by contiguity between things. Metonymy gives special expressiveness and national originality to the narrative: «And just as now, an insatiable thousand-headed Shurshut dragon has crawled here from distant valleys, wishing to absorb them, to suck their blood and to spit out their bones, so that no memory about the ancient nation was left. But each time, having broken off its teeth, the dragon crept away across the stone desert» [6; 352]. As it is known, the image of a dragon occupies a dominant place in Chinese culture. The Chinese call themselves «descendants of a dragon», «children of a dragon», and believe the mythical creatureto bring them wealth, fortune and prosperity. For many centuries, the dragon was the symbol of the Chinese Emperor. The word «dragon» stands for the Chinese country and army in the trilogy.

The national characteristic of I. Esenberlin'sartistic style is the proximity to Kazakh oral culture largely due to epithets, or descriptive poetic terms. The author uses attributes from an unexpected side and creates vivid images. Epithets in the trilogy help to reveal the author's attitude toward characters and events, and allow to convey feelings and experiences of characters in a deeper way.

Emotional figurative epithets illustrate close links between nomadic people and nature in the following examples: «mirror lake», «silver fish», «giant thousand-horseshoe», «icy hurricane», «fat pastures», «fierce blizzard», «mighty forest», «ferocious storm», «fiery frost», «vital rivers», «free steppe», «merciless heat», «emerald green cane», «tangible, endless silence», «bloody lunar disk».

The writer strives to embody his ideal of female beauty using lyrical epithets and comparisons drawn from admiration for the beauty of native nature: «eyes like a bottomless lake in calm weather», «beautiful face whiter than snow», «eyes like water in a mountainous lake».

The Kazakhs always respected their elders. The author shows this ancient tradition end owing wise old men with such poetic epithets as «unsurpassed master of the word», «nightingale trills of sages».

The author admires courage and strength of Kazakh batyrs and uses such folk expressions as «living invincible memory», «fiery batyr», «uncrackable horsemen», «impregnable riders», «stately horseman», «vio- lent temper».

Emotional evaluative epithets reveal people's suffering and pain for their homeland: «sharp shards of unreliable countries», «soul burned with hot iron», «crippled warriors», «bloody game», «cosmic disaster», «monstrous murder», «daunting battle», «wild cries», «broody frown old men», «grieving people», «a thousand-year grudge», «unquenchable mourning», «out of measure sad», «red-eyed tragedy», «scariest slaugh- ter», «inhumane conditions», «unheard ills», «guerrilla raids».

Folklore epithets, orfixed epithets related to oral literature, pass condemnation ofunfair policy of Kazakh khans: «inherent hardness of heart», «terrible Sultan», «gnawing eyes», «sheepish eyes», «fiery eyes», «ruthless severity», «severe laws», «unjustified anger».

Metaphorical epithets, which combinecharacteristics of a metaphor and an epithet, are used in the trilogy to describe enemies of the Kazakh Khanate and to increase the feelings of hostility and indignation at them: «all-ruining bloody invasion», «the faceless Chinese regiments», «blue faceless mass», «poisonous thorn», «cruel-hearted snake», «insatiable thousand-headed dragon», «insidious enemy».

Wide use of phraseology is another factor which contributes to national uniqueness of the language of the trilogy. By definition of the Russian linguist N.M. Shansky, an idiomatic expression is «a unit of the language which consists of two or more stressed components of word character and is fixed on its composition, structure and meaning» [8; 8]. The basis of phraseological units of the Kazakh language is mythological concepts, which stem from the depths of centuries, and are associated with cultural and historical traditions and practical experience of the nation. By using them, people demonstrated their comprehension and their attitude toward the surrounding world, as well as characterized themselves and their activities.

The Russian scientist V.N. Telia suggests that the phraseological composition of the language is «the mirror in which the language-related cultural community identifies its national identity», because it contains information about history, culture, life, customs and traditions of the nation [7; 13]. With the help of idiomatic expressions people passed down, according to the Russian linguist I.F. Buslaeva, «moral laws and common sense, which are the legacy from ancestors to be used as a guidance by their descendants» [9; 388].

I. Esenberlin displays originality of Kazakh national thinking and shows richness and uniqueness of oral language by incorporating words of edification and quotes by famous storytellers, parables, fables, proverbs, sayings, riddles into narrative. Such didactic expressions of Kazakh folklore are notable for instructiveness,insightful thoughts, a subtle subtext, an expressive rhyme, and rhythm. Like other figures of speech, they arise from the nomads'mode of life.

Since Khan was the head of the Kazakh state, many proverbs show the attitude of common people toward their ruler:

«A hasty decision, and under the influence of anger, is the first master's enemy».

«Before you rule the khanate, learn to rule your own yurt».

«Mamai is dead, and so is your former greatness».

The nomadic way of living required that man should be a warrior, a defender of the tribe, anda breadwinner for his family:

«Wherever you can, do without any bloodshed».

«If you want to overpower a new enemy, then be a friend to an old one».

«Poor peace is better than a good argument».

«Lest the eyes should peck each other, Allah placed a nose between them».

Cattle have always been the main value of Kazakhs, that is why many folk sayings are based on similarities with domestic animals:

«Rather than being a goose among geese, be a goose among crows».

«When two camels rub against each other, a fly dies between them».

«He who betrays his native land is like a horse sick with COAG».

«When the enemy grabs a collar, the dog grabs coattails».

«Every master values his baby goat more than another's goat».

«He who is inattentive will not notice a camel in front of him».

«Better to have your own calf than a common bull».

«The food that the dog has lapped becomes inedible».

One of the main activities of nomads was hunting. Naturally, many proverbs are based on analogieswith wild animals and birds:

«A maiden's love is like a fox that has flashed ahead. If you haven't managed to grab hold of her fluffy tail, you should blame yourself».

«If time is cunning like a fox, then turn into a hound to catch up with it».

«A clever wolf will always run in front of ten dogs. And it will turn to them with its fangs as soon asthe dogs stretch out in line».

«When you want to measure your strength with a lion's, you should protect your ribs in advance».

«The chick in its first flight will take that which it's seen in its nest».

«Happiness is like a little bird, it always sits next to the feeder».

«Kazakhs have scattered across the steppe like kulans, and their leaders are jealous of each other».

«A crow won't peck a crow's eye».

Kazakh people have always paid great attention to education.They taught patience, hard work, endurance, kindness for youngsters:

«Rejoice at thy neighbour».

«Forty men can't out-argue a stubborn man».

«What could be more dangerous than a fire in your own home?»

«When people get fat, you can't raise them with a whip».

«Even fingers of man's hand are not the same».

«Do not throw your fur coat into the fire if you got angry with lice».

«You'd better be a head of someone's body, rather than a sole of your own».

When speaking about fixed word combinations, attention must be drawn to color symbolism in the novel. White is sacred for Kazakhs and symbolizes purity, righteousness, justice, and also high social status of a person. For instance, aksakal, namely, «white beard», means the tribal elder, honorable old man; «white bone» refers to the reigning families of Genghis Khan; each newly elected Khan was washed in the milk of a white mare and raised on a white felt mat. Milk and dairy products has a symbolic meaning for Kazakhs, and they have always treated their guests with koumiss to welcome to their home.

Unlike the Russian language, in which black is a symbol of misfortune, in the Kazakh language this color, in addition to a negative connotation, such as «black thoughts», «black snake», «black intentions», black has a positive meaning, for instance, «kara-bukhara» denotes a strong and numerous nation, «karashanyrak» refers to a sacred hearth.

Yellow symbolizes sadness for Kazakhs in such word combinations used in the novel as «yellow sor- row» for painful sadness, «sarytosek» for illness. Besides, yellow («sary» in Kazakh) is used in geographical names: Saryarka, Sarysu, Saryagash.

Red, which was initially associated with the color of the sun and fire, is associated with bloodshed, cruelty, and war in the trilogy, for instance, «a bloody game», «red-eyed tragedy», «bloody invasion».

Blue, the color of the sky and grass for Kazakhs, is used in such terms as «KokOrda» forThe Blue Horde, «kokzhailau» for a summer pasture.


Thus, the national distinctiveness of I. Esenberlin's writing style stems from the use of immensely powerful expressive means of rich folk language. They have allowed the author to fully disclose the mode of life, national worldview, and spiritual values of the nomadic nation. It is difficult to disagree with Z. Bisengali that «the use of the art system of national prose is so strong in the novel that it produces an impression of a tale converted to a special style of narrative» [3; 8].



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Year: 2019
City: Karaganda
Category: Philology