Skip to Main Content

University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Kazakh Language: Popular Literature & Newspapers

Kazakhstan Newspapers

Other Useful Links

Kazakhstan Literature Resources

UIUC's Slavic Reference Service through the International Area Studies Library offers a research guide for navigating the National Kazakhstan Bibliography which holds bibliographies of all Kazakhstan literature. 

The National Library of Kazakhstan provides electronic collections of rare books, manuscripts, contemporary literature, and an information center for Kazakhstan researchers.

The National Academic Library of the Republic of Kazakhstan boasts a digital library through which you can access all sorts of Kazakh literature. 

Ukazatel’ knig, zhurnal’nykh i gazetnykh statei i zamietok o kirgizakh is a bibliography of Kazakh literature prior to 1900, consisting of 969 pages of lavishly annotated entries of monographs and other major publications. Full text is available through HathiTrust.

Abay Kunanbayev

Abay Ibrahim Qunanbayuli (Kazakh: Абай Ибраһим Құнанбайұлы; Russian: Абай Ибрагим Кунанбаев) (August 10, 1845 - July 6, 1904) was a great Kazakh poet, composer and philosopher. He was also a cultural reformer toward European and Russian cultures on the basis of enlightened Islam.

Was born in Chingizsky mountains of Semipalatinsk area in a family of large feudal lord Kunanbaja Uskenbaeva. The family of Abaja was hereditary aristocratic, both the grandfather (Оскенбай) and the great-grandfather (Иргизбай) predominated in the sort as governors and биев.

Ahmet-cope in Semipalatinsk studied in медресе mullahs and simultaneously attended Russian school.

Formation of outlook of Abaja was influenced by poets and the scientists of the East adhering to humanistic ideas (Firdousi, Alisher Navoi, Bottoms, Fizuli, Ibn Sina and others), and also products of Russian classics, and through them and the European literature in general. It translated I.A.Krylov's fables, A.S.Pushkin's M.Ju.Lermontov, "Evgenie Onegina's" verses, Goethe and Byron's verses.

The poem history Қараңғы түнде тау қалғып is rather interesting. Johann Wolfgang Goethe has written Wanderers Nachtlied, Michael Jurevich Lermontov has gracefully shifted it on Russian, and after even half a century the son of the Kazakh steppes Abaj Kunanbaev will recreate it not less gracefully in the Kazakh language.

Abaj Kunanbaev promoted distribution of Russian culture among Kazakhs. Subsequently to its example Turar Ryskulov has followed. He called: "to Know Russian — means to open eyes on the world", "Russian science and culture — a key to judgement of the world and, having got it, it is possible to facilitate life of our people much more. For example, we would learn different, but at the same time fair ways of getting of means of living and would edify on this way of children, struggled for position of our people equal in rights among other people of the Earth" more successfully.

Abay's main contribution to Kazakh culture and folklore lies in his poetry, which expresses great nationalism and grew out of Kazakh folk culture. Before him, most Kazakh poetry was oral, echoing the nomadic habits of the people of the Kazakh steppes. During Abay's lifetime, however, a number of important socio-political and socio-economic changes occurred. Russian influence continued to grow in Kazakhstan, resulting in greater educational possibilities as well as exposure to a number of different philosophies, whether Russian, Western or Asian. Abay Qunanbayuli steeped himself in the cultural and philosophical history of these newly-opened geographies. In this sense, Abay's creative poetry affected the philosophical thinking of educated Kazakhs.

In the history of the Kazakh literature Abai occupies a place of honor, having enriched Kazakh poetry in the new sizes and rhymes.

Abai created about 170 poems and 56 translations, songs, and "edification Words" ("Қара сөздер")

Аbai was also the talented and original composer. He created about twenty melodies which are popular today. The song based on  his verses «Көзімнің қарасы» ("You a pupil of my eyes", M.Petrovyh's translation) became ethnic.


Credit: Wikipedia, Abai Kunanbayev Web-site,, and our own knowledge