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Reflections on Contemporary Literature in Afghanistan

Latif Nazemi

Three external sources have informed the Contemporary literature of Afghanistan. The first has been the Russian and later Soviet literature and cultural, particularly 19th century literature represented by the likes of Tolstoy, Pushkin, Gorky, and Chekov. Next to French literary figures, the classic Russian writers had the deepest have had the deepest influence on Afghanistan's novelists. Furthermore, the post-revolutionary Russian writers also have had considerable impact on the style of the left leaning and Marxist Afghan literary figures. The influence of Iranian literature on Afghan poets and storywriters can not be underestimated. In particular, the Iranian writers and novelists with leftist tendencies or who were sympathetic to the Tudeh party, such as Abolqasem Lahouti, Ahmad Shamlu, Farokhi Yazdi, had considerable influence on Afghanistan's leftist literary figures. Finally, the impact of European literature, specially French and German writers, on contemporary Afghan literary figures began from the second decade of the twentieth century. The American literary influence, however, is of recent origin.

Short stories, novels, plays and prose poetry were all western literary genres adopted by Afghan writers and poems. With the spread of European literature in Afghanistan, either directly from Europe or through translated works from Iran, traditional Afghan literature, particularly poetry, gradually gave way to modern versions. A new wave of modern Afghan writers and poets blazed, at times fearlessly, new literary trails. The gate to modernity was further widened with the increase in the number of Afghan students in both western and communist countries. A gradual rush to translate modern literary works also contributed to the growing familiarity of Afghan writers and poets with various components of modernity in western literature.