A EurasiaNet Book Review
Slavs and Tatars Presents Molla Nasreddin: the magazine that would’ve, could’ve, should’ve
Modern Azerbaijan may not be known for its social liberalism or political progressiveness, but turning the clock back a century reveals a country that was enjoying a creative ferment that promised to bring “modernity” to the Caucasus.
After all, Azerbaijan, from 1918-20, became the first democratic republic in the Muslim world, even boasting universal suffrage.
The satirical periodical Molla Nasreddin, edited by Jalil Mammadguluzadeh, one of Azerbaijan’s first men of letters, was a publication that reflected the zeitgeist of that time, provoking discussion in Azerbaijan and beyond. Rich with two-color cartoons, anecdotes and commentary, it was first published in 1906 in Tbilisi, before moving to Iran, and, finally, in 1922, to Baku, where it existed until 1931.
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William Gourlay was formerly Lonely Planet’s commissioning editor for Turkey and the Caucasus. He is a doctoral candidate at the Centre for Islam and the Modern World, at Monash University, Australia.