Jafar Jabbarly and Azerbaijan’s Translation School

Jafar Jabbarly and Azerbaijan’s Translation School

In 2019 we solemnly mark the 120th anniversary of great Azerbaijani writer and dramatist Jafar Jabbarly's birth following President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev’s Decree on December 17, 2018.

On that occasion, the Azerbaijan State Translation Center (AzSTC) has hosted a round table titled 'Jafar Jabbarly and Azerbaijan’s Translation School' attended by scholars, writers and translators. The roundtable discussions focused on the history of Azerbaijani translation art, its boom period, and Jabbarly’s outstanding contribution at that stage.

Moderating the event, Etimad Başkeçid, a writer and translator, said: “Jafar Jabbarly was not only a great writer and playwright, but also a notable translator. He was one of the pioneers of early Azerbaijani translation art. His work coincided with a period when the principles and methods of fiction translation in Azerbaijan had not been shaped and stabilized. Even nowadays, his contributions to the translation industry, including samples of his translated writings differ from others by their artistic and professional excellence. Jabbarly did translations for various newspapers and magazines; he worked as a chief translator for the newspaper “Communist”.

In his article 'The issue of translation must be given importance' published in 1926, Jabbarly wrote about the indifference displayed to the translation, professional translators’ business-like  tendencies, unsatisfactory situation in translation in various fields, lack of lucid expression of ideas and purity of the language. And today, these issues are identified as pressing issues, as well. Unfortunately, nearly a century have passed since then, and the translation sphere still faces similar problems.”

Addressing the event, Professor Rustam Kamal said Jabbarly is a symbol of Azerbaijan's national culture: “His unusual talent was acknowledged both during his lifetime and after his death. He wrote 20 plays in his 20-year literary activity. The film scenarios, poems, novels and pieces in translation created within his 35-year of life are good indicators of his genius.  He was the text designer of the 20th century Azerbaijani literature. He was a dramatic playwright, who knew the stage technician, who could feel and see the scene. His plays can be staged all times. '

Later, Professor Badirhkhan Ahmadli took the floor and spoke about the reasons that brought Jafar Jabbarly to the translation field: “Jabbarly was a good at writing plays and short stories. So, why was he involved in translation? After the establishment of the Soviet power in Azerbaijan in 1920, literary magazines and newspapers worked under the slogan 'Proletarians of all countries, unite!' J. Jabbarly was a Musavatist and one of the Republic's stenographers. In this sense, Jabbarly's involvement in translation was inevitable. Because in the 1920s, he could only support his family with the money he earned from translations. He perfectly knew Russian, and his appearance in Azerbaijan drama was due to his deep knowledge of world dramaturgy. The monologues and dialogues in his playwrights rose to the level of Shakespeare's. During the translation, he used Arabic-Persian words as little as possible; he used Turkish words.”

Vilayat Hajiyev’s speech followed discussing the subject. He outlined Jabbarly's thoughts about translation: 'For him, translation was not just a matter of expressing ideas, but also a challenge for building words. In this sense, he always used the translation as a tool.

In my opinion, it was Jabbarly who dug lyric-psychological aspects into Azerbaijani prose. And they [these aspects] had influenced on his translations. In his translations, he took into account the genre's demands, and he chose a word in such a way that it didn’t lose its dynamics. In shorts, Jabbarly was a more creative translator.'

Other speakers were Yashar Aliyev, Mahir N. Garayev, Zahid Saritorpak, Alisamid Kur and Imir Mammadli.

In the end, Jabbarly’s grandson Bahlul Seyfaddinoglu of the Translation Center, spoke about his grandfather, and thanked the organizers of the event.