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Azerbaijan: Early 20th Century Satirical Magazine Offers Edgy Exploration of Eurasia

Rich with two-color cartoons, anecdotes and commentary, “Molla Nasreddin” was first published in 1906 in Tbilisi, before moving to Iran, and, finally, in 1922, to Baku, where it existed until 1931. (Courtesy of Slavs and Tatars)

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.

Azerbaijan: Early 20th Century Satirical Magazine Offers Edgy Exploration of Eurasia

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