The Central Asian Uprising of 1916

Author: David Seed (Liverpool University)

  • The Central Asian Uprising of 1916


    The Central Asian Uprising of 1916



In the Central Asian section of Gravity's Rainbow Pynchon introduces the Kirghiz character Dzaqyp Qulan through his memory of his father's death. Dzaqyp Qulan will become Tchitcherine's sidekick, and therefore it is strategic to introduce historical information which will explain a tension in their relationship. After all the whole section deals with the attempts of a strong central government to enforce conformity to certain standards of literacy. The issue of alphabetization is only one specific example of cultural colonialization; it links Central Asia analogically to the settlement of the pampas and disappearance of the gauchos, and to the treatment of the Hereros at the hands of the Germans. By setting up these analogies, Pynchon invites the reader to make comparisons and draw a pattern in colonialistic activity. Javaid Qazi has shown in considerable detail what source materials were used for the Central Asian section, but has said nothing about the 1916 uprising which preceded the compulsory introduction of literacy by some ten years. Pynchon's source for details of this uprising is a monograph by Edward Dennis Sokol entitled The Revolt of 1916 in Russian Central Asia. Thomas Winner refers to this Work in a footnote in his study The Oral Art and Literature of the Kazakhs of Russian Central Asia, which Qazi demonstrates was used by Pynchon for describing the ajtys or singing duel later in this section.

How to Cite:

Seed, D., (1983) “The Central Asian Uprising of 1916”, Pynchon Notes 11, 49-53. doi:

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Published on
01 Feb 1983