Udmurt - Language and Literature

Udmurt is written in the Cyrillic alphabet. From the fifteenth century on, Udmurt words appeared sporadically in Russian texts, especially in annuals. The first text written in the Udmurt language, a poem praising the czarina, appeared in 1767, and in 1775 a carefully printed Udmurt grammar was published in Russian in Kazan. From then until 1917 the Udmurt language grew and the number of printed Udmurt texts (religious publications, course books, etc.) reached over 200. After 1917, especially in the 1920s, this endeavor gained strength and provided the basis for establishing Udmurt literacy.

The father of Udmurt literature was the ethnologist, folklorist, and linguist Grigorij Verevsvcagin (1851-1930), who published his lullaby poem "Blue, Blue Little Dove" as a piece of folk poetry in 1889. Kedra Mitrej (1892-1949) founded Udmurt drama, with his Evs Terek in 1915; he was also the first to write Udmurt prose. After the Revolution he published a great number of significant writings in his native language. Well-known Udmurt poets include Gerd Kuzebaj (1898-1937) and Asvalcvi Oki (1898-1973). From the exciting and flourishing period of Udmurt literature that ended in 1938 two of the more talented prose writers were Mihail Konovalov (1905-1938) and Grigorij Medvedev (1904-1938). Between 1938 and 1956 artistic values could be expressed only at great personal risk. Despite these circumstances, Filipp Kedrov (1909-1944) and Pjotr Blinov (1913-1942) wrote significant and popular works that remain in print. Mihail Petrov (1905-1955) was the father of the classic Udmurt novel. At the same time, an outstanding man of letters, Ignatij Gavrilov (1912-1973), appeared on the literary scene, excelling in all genres but especially in drama. Two notable lyrical poets were Stepan Svirobokov (1912-1983) and Nikolai Baiterjakov (b. 1923); Their verse has its roots in Udmurt folklore. After the twentieth congress of the Russian Communist party (1956), Udmurt literature flourished again. Two representative figures from this era are Gennadij Krasilnikov (1928-1975), the pioneer of modern Udmurt prose, and Flor Vasil'ev (1934-1978), who removed the pathetic overtones of lyric poetry and brought it closer to everyday life.

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