A Brief Note
on the Life of Sotim Ulughzoda

Iraj Bashiri
Copyright, Bashiri, 2000

[For a complete account of Sotim Ulughzoda's life, see Iraj Bashiri's article in "Encyclopedia of World Literature in the 20th Century." or in
Prominent Tajik Figures of the 20th Century.]

Tajik novelist, playwright, and literature historian Sotim Ulughzoda was born on September 11, 1911, in Namangan, Uzbekistan. He died in Moscow in 1997.

Ulughzoda was born into a poor family; his rural background afforded him a traditional education. In 1929, he graduated from the Tashkent Teacher Training Institute and taught there for a year. Thereafter, he moved to Dushanbe and supervised the publication of "Tajikistan Komsomol", "Red Tajikistan", and "On Behalf of Socialist Literature." Between 1941 and 1944, he served as a war correspondent and from 1944 to 1946 served as the head of the Writers Union of Tajikistan. Below, we shall discuss Ulughzoda's career as a correspondent and literary critic, a playwright, and a novelist and literary historian.

Beginning in 1930, Ulughzoda wrote brief pieces for "Red Tajikistan" and "On Behalf of Socialist Literature." In these articles he examined the lives of Rudaki (d. 940), Firdowsi (935-1020 or 26), Ibn-i Sina (980-1037), Donish (1827-1897), Aini (1878-1954), and Dihoti (1911-1962). Then, by the end of the decade, he became increasingly involved in the theater and preparation of pieces for the stage. His "Rejoicing" (1939), which depicts the conflict between the new order and the old, and "Red Club Wielders" (1940), about the Red Army and the Basmachis, were enthusiastically received. His third play, "In the Fire," (1944) inaugurated a new phase in Tajik dramatic presentation. His career as a playwright, however, loke his career as a correspondent, came to an end with "The Searchers" (1951). The play dealt with the activities of a group of geologists commissioned to look for precious stones. The play was not received well due to Ulughzoda's depiction of Soviet girls in the media.

Life on the Kolkhoz, described in "The New Settlement" (1948-53) and "The Prime of Our Youth" (1954), reminiscent of Sadriddin Aini's (1878-1954) "Reminiscences," established Ulughzoda in his third career, that of a novelist. Here he contributed immensely to an understanding of the growth of communism in Tajikistan, including an analytical view of the workings of the kolkhozsystem.

In a way, Ulughzoda's novels, concentrating on Tashkent and the Ferghana valley, complement the contributions of Aini who dwells on Bukhara, Samarqand, and the Hissar region. Examining the old and new method schools, Ulughzoda illustrates how the Muslim child, fleeing the stark and difficult surroundings dictated by his exploitative family and the dogmatic ishans, is attracted and, gradually absorbed, into the Soviet system.

Although Ulughzoda was praised for his earlier portrayal of Rudaki, Ibn-i Sina, and Donish, his later contributions, like Vosse, were not published until the 1980s. In fact, during the latter part of his life, he was blacklisted for having sent his son to England to be educated.

Completed in 1967, Vosse portrays the life of a revolutionary peasant who is forced by circumstances to rise against Amir Abdul Ahad (ruled, 1885-1910). To gather materials for the novel, Ulughzoda visited Khavaling, studied Vosse's family relations, and interviewed some of the older people who still remembered the event. The novel makes its nonconformist author the third most prominent writer of twentieth century Tajikistan, the other two being Sadriddin Aini and Jalol Ikromi.

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