Birthday: February 22, 1866
Short Story Writers
Died At Age: 66
Sun Sign: Pisces
Also Known As: Jalil Huseyngulu oglu Mammadguluzadeh
Born in: Nakhchivan City
Famous as: Satirist
Spouse/Ex-: Nazli Kangarli ( died in 1903), Hamida Javanshir (1907–1932)
Died on: April 1, 1932
place of death: Baku
education: Transcaucasian Teachers Seminary, Gori
Jalil Mammadguluzadeh was a famous Azerbaijani writer and satirist. He was born to Iranian parents in what is now Azerbaijan, and he lived and worked in Georgia for part of his career. Before becoming a writer, he was also a teacher for many years in rural schools. At one point in time, he even studied law. With his colleagues, he purchased a publishing house and became editor of the satire magazine ‘Molla Nasraddin.’ In addition, he was the author of numerous short stories, essays, novels, and dramas. Through this work, he has greatly influenced the style of satire in Azerbaijani and Iranian writing. In addition to his work as a writer, he was an activist in his home country, fighting for the purification of the Azeri language. Partly due to his efforts, Azeri still exists as a literary language. He was also somewhat of a controversial figure. The political themes in ‘Molla Nasraddin’ got the magazine banned in several regions and eventually shut down entirely. Though he is not well-known in Western countries, he has had a heavy influence in Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran, Russia, and throughout the Caucasus region. He wrote primarily in Azeri, but also spoke Russian and Persian.
Childhood & Early Life
Jalil Mammadguluzadeh was born in Nakchivan, in present-day Azerbaijan, on February 22, 1866. He is of Azeri ethnicity though his parents were from Iran.
Mammadguluzadeh was educated in religious schools through his childhood. At the age of 13, he entered a city school in Nakchivan. It was here he learned Russian.
In 1886, he moved to the Georgian city Gori to enroll in the Transcaucasia Teachers’ Seminary. This gave him his background as a teacher and allowed him to meet other intellectually-minded people.
After his graduation from Transcaucasia Seminary in 1887, he began teaching in Erivan province. There, he taught in different rural schools throughout the region.
In 1901, he moved to the capital of Erivan Province. He wanted to become a lawyer and stayed here to study law for two years.
In 1903, he left law school and moved to Tbilisi to provide medical care for his dying wife. Though he had written a few short stories previously in life, it was in Tibilisi that he truly began his career as a writer.
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In 1903, he wrote the short story ‘The Postbox.' Writer Muhammad agha Shakhtakhtinski read this story and encouraged Mammadguluzadeh to publish it in the Azeri publication ‘Sharqi-Rus’.
The ‘Postbox’ was published in 1904 in ‘Sharqi-Rus.’ He then became a columnist for ‘Sharqi-Rus’, which provided a place for him to publish fiction and gave him a background in publishing and journalism.
During his time at 'Sharqi-Rus’, Mammadguluzadeh met many other literati. With some friends and colleagues, he helped purchase the Geyrat Publishing House in 1905.
One year later, in 1906, he founded the literary and satire magazine ‘Molla Nasraddin’. The magazine compiled prose, poetry, and cartoons to comment on the issues of the time.
’Molla Nasraddin’ was highly controversial in the Tsarist government of the time and had to change office location several times. The magazine’s final home was in Baku, which is now the capital of Azerbaijan.
He was editor of this magazine until 1931, when the magazine eventually stopped printing. He published many more short stories, essays, and dramas during this time
He was the editor of the magazine ’Molla Nasraddin’, from 1906 to 1931. The magazine circulated around 2,500 copies for each weekly print run.
Personal Life & Legacy
Jalil Mammadguluzadeh was married three times. His first two wives predeceased him. His first wife, Nazli Kangarli, died in 1903, soon after he took her to Tbilisi for her treatment.
His final marriage was to the feminist civil rights activist and philanthropist Hamida Javanshir, in 1907. He had two children with Javanshir: Midhat and Anvar.
He died of natural causes on January 4th, 1932, in Baku. He was survived by his wife and two children.
Through his work in ‘Molla Nasraddin,’ he is known for his lasting influence on the satire style. He also fought for women's rights and education.
The Azeri language was strengthened because of his fight against foreign vocabulary in the language.
Some people dispute his religion, claiming that he was an atheist rather than a Muslim. These claims have not been proven, though he was often a critic of religion and had been threatened by extremists.
’Molla Nasraddin’ was named after a 13th century scholar who wrote satirical and humorous stories. The name is apt because of the satirical nature of the magazine.
An Azeri word named after his magazine, roughly translated to Nasraddism, meaning “to tell it like it is.” The word comes from the magazine's ability to show political realities.