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Idril
10-05-2006, 10:58 PM
I haven't read this short story...yet...so this is perhaps not the place for this question but I wasn't sure where else to put it so we'll see if it gets moved....

I am having some difficulty getting a clear idea in my head what the word "cossack" means. At some point, it seems to become more of a military term, relating to a regiment on horses with no connection to ethnicity but I also get the impression that at one time, Cossacks were most definitely an ethnic group...but then there were distinct groups of Cossacks, Ukrainian and Don are the ones that I'm most familar with so if it was an ethnic thing, are they all related somehow? Did they all originate from a certain place? I know in And Quiet Flows the Don it talks about people being Cossacks by blood but am I supposed to take that literally or figuratively? Or is it just more of a lifestyle thing? See how confused I am? :brickwall Can anyone explain this to me or am I just on my own. ;)

Charles Darnay
10-05-2006, 11:35 PM
As far as I know, though I will not claim to be the best when it comes to Russian history, Cossacks are just a term for a specific military group (mounted units as you mentioned). Like the Gestapo, or Bulsheviks... I don't know if extends past that.......sorry if I'm wrong

Thorwench
10-06-2006, 04:10 AM
That's not quite right I'm afraid. The Cossacks were tatar (first) and slavic(later) communities of free (having abandoned or avoided serfdom) riding divisions/hords whose members mainly originated from impoverished or desperate peasants. The existence of such communities can be proved for the 15th century (I believe at the earliest). They then apparently settled (with families and all) in the 16th century mainly in the territory now known as Ukraine and lived as warrier-farmers. In the 17th century, their founded their warrior league called the Saporogi Sitsh and a free municipalities which I think are called Stanitsa and which were lead by overlords called atamans. In 1654 they were subjected to Moscow overlordship and Catherine the Great forbade their free self-rule. Later on, areas with special privileges were established all over the endangered Russian borders (Don, Kuban, Terek, Astrachan, Orenburg, Siberia). These areas or districts then provided the best rider-warriors, i.e. cavallery, for the Russian light brigades. They opposed the Bolshewiks after 1917 because they always dreamed of a free Cossackian state, one of their historic heroes is Stepan Rasin and I think, Pugatshov. They were traditionally quite religious and saw themselves as a nation of warriors not farmers, although, of course, they were indeed both.
By the way, how do you like the book? It is one of my all time favourites but I never could find anyone who thought so too.

Thorwench
10-06-2006, 04:12 AM
I forgot: because they were both tatar and slavic in origin you can find different genotypes in Cossackian communities. Blond and blue eyed just as dark ones with asian bone structures.

Turk
10-06-2006, 09:49 AM
Cossacks are originally Mongoloid and Tataric. Their language is a part of Turkish. Cossacks comes from Turkish roots. Like Hungarians. They are also remainders of old Hun Turks. But within time some of them culturally changed and became Christian and they assimilated by Russians. Their life style, racial specialities, names, traditions etc. proves they are not Slav originally. Also originally in Turkish it's called Kazak.

They also served Russian Empire. Cossacks were a special unit in Russian Empire army. Just like like old Strelitztis.

Note: Bolshevik was a politic fraction of Russian Communists. Controlled by Lenin. In civil war, Lenin's army called Bolshevik Army. It wasn't a special army unit but the name of army of Bolshevik fraction. Originally it's a politic term, not military.

Turk
10-06-2006, 09:52 AM
I forgot: because they were both tatar and slavic in origin you can find different genotypes in Cossackian communities. Blond and blue eyed just as dark ones with asian bone structures.

Kuman and Kipchak tribes of Turks are also known with their tall and strong body, blue eyes, blonde hair. Having blue eyes and blonde hair doesn't mean being Slav.

Thorwench
10-06-2006, 03:10 PM
I have the information of the later Slavic influx from the Brockhaus which has the same standing in German speaking countries as the Oxford Dictionary has in the English speaking ones. It would also makes sense that there was a Slavic influx anyway since those were territories were the Slavs settled and roamed just like the Huns or the Vikings or even the Turks. It is also the case that the Cossacks had their own language which is, indeed, related to Great Russian as it is called. (again from the Brockhaus and from science paper on Ukrainian languages I once translated).

Idril
10-06-2006, 04:57 PM
Thank you, Thorwench, that was exactly the description I was looking for. :thumbs_up I have googled Cossacks a few times but it just gives me one group or another, never a comprehensive history so this was incredibly helpful. Were the various tribes of Cossacks friendly or was their relationship more rivalrous?



By the way, how do you like the book? It is one of my all time favourites but I never could find anyone who thought so too.

I assume you're talking about And Quiet Flows the Don? I love it! In fact I'm now reading the sequel, The Don Flows Home To The Sea. I really don't know that much about that time in Russia's history, just bits and pieces really. I've read a lot about the time leading up to the Revolution, you can see the seeds in Tolstoy's and Dostoevsky's writings so I feel like I can understand the political and social attitudes of the time and how and why the Revolution took place and I've read a fair amount of Soviet literature so I have at least a rudimentary understanding how that society worked so it's been fascinating to read how the two parts fit together and how the one became the other. And I just love the Cossacks, it's a love that started with Gogol's Taras Bulba, although that was about the Ukrainian Cossacks but now that love has been cemented through Sholokhov and Gregor Melekhov. ;)

Turk
10-07-2006, 11:37 AM
I have the information of the later Slavic influx from the Brockhaus which has the same standing in German speaking countries as the Oxford Dictionary has in the English speaking ones. It would also makes sense that there was a Slavic influx anyway since those were territories were the Slavs settled and roamed just like the Huns or the Vikings or even the Turks. It is also the case that the Cossacks had their own language which is, indeed, related to Great Russian as it is called. (again from the Brockhaus and from science paper on Ukrainian languages I once translated).

Science of genetics says Cossacks are closer to Tatars and Turks.

Turk
10-07-2006, 11:48 AM
And even the word COSSACK is Turkish. Also the lands where Cossacks settled are same places with where some Turkish kingdoms and Empires established. Just as Altınorda Empire, Avar Empire, Hazar Empire or Hun empire etc. And btw; Huns are not different than Turks. First known Turkish state is named Great Hun Empire (original the word is "KUN" ("KOYUN" in modern Turkish) which means sheep-ram, they choosed this name as their state name because sheep (KUN) was their totem). So not just genetics but also history proves Cossacks are originally Turkish-Tatar.

Thorwench
10-08-2006, 09:18 AM
First Turk: It's just because you want it to be so. Of course the root of the word "cossack" is turk but it doesn't mean that all the people were, they actually spend a hell of a lot of time fighting the Turks. There are even disagreeing sources on what "Cossack" means. Some say it means homeless, nomad, some say it means free man. Take your pick. The Huns by the way probably are more Asian major than you think, they may have had slit eyes (like the mongols or many of those small ethnic groups in Siberia and northern Russia). They even traced alleged Amazon genes (apparently blue-eyed) back to a little girl in Mongolia who has not only blue eyes but the same gene markers found in a hill grave in Russia which apparently contains one of the Amazon queens thus supporting the view that the remainder of the Amazons after the Trojan fled to Eastern Russia assimilating with the Huns. What's Turkey herself? Asia Minor! A melting pot for absolutely everyone of every creed of every genotype you can imagine. The only ones you can safely count out are the Aborigines. You have to accept the fact that people and communities mixed and there were not even nation states in those times we are talking about. If you have any doubts, travel and go to the Kuban, the Terek and the Don and talk to the Cossacks who still live there, look at them and then talk of what they are and what they were and please, don't bend science according to your needs.

Now Idril:
What's the sequel? I have never heard of one but would be interested to know. As far as I know, the book has 4 parts and ends with Grigory returning from the woods and only finding his little son.
This book touched me deeply because it is the only book I know which addresses the cruelty and confusion of the revolution and tries to understand the Whites or Menshewiks and the uprisings against Soviet rule. Doctor Shivago does the former but from an intellectual's view point. Many critics think that Grigory, in the end, is destroyed. I never thought this, his love for the steppe and his home will prevail within his son who is a Cossack too. Although his son is first afraid and scared of his father being one of the green rebels, he then recognises his dad and sits on his arm and accept that he has returned to be with him, the last bond between Grigory and life.
I find it very difficult to express what this book means to me. Being from behind the iron curtain I couldn't believe that they allowed the book to be published. I have only read it this year so I can't say what I would have thought if would have read it before the wall came down. But it brought the revolution and what it meant much closer to me than anything else and I, like you, have read a hell of a lot about the Russian Revolution and the civil war. I have never very much liked Tolstoy or Dostoyevski or Tshekov, their characters are somehow set and mind bogglingly inactive or absorbed in their inner obsessions, Grigory to me is true, an acting and erring human being someone really really close to my heart, not to talk of the horses...

Idril
10-08-2006, 01:14 PM
Now Idril:
What's the sequel? I have never heard of one but would be interested to know.

Well, it may be that you read a version that had both books in one volume, I think I did read that it was published as one book in Europe but split up in other editions. And Quiet Flows the Don was the first one and the second one is The Don Flows Home To The Sea, which I'm reading right now. The Cossacks are rising against the Bolsheviks at the moment and Piotra has just been killed.


I find it very difficult to express what this book means to me. Being from behind the iron curtain I couldn't believe that they allowed the book to be published.

I was wondering that myself because it's certainly not particularly supportive of the Bolsheviks but then again, it's doesn't always show the Cossacks in the best light either and I think that's one of the reasons why I like it so much, it's so honest, the good, the bad the ugly and it shows just what impossible decisions they had to make and just how off guard the Revolution took them. And how it devastated everything in sight. I didn't notice the publication date, was it published during or after Stalin?


I have never very much liked Tolstoy or Dostoyevski or Tshekov, their characters are somehow set and mind bogglingly inactive or absorbed in their inner obsessions...

I think the seeds were being sown at that time, they had these feelings of unrest, they were outraged at the inequality of the current system but I don't think it really occured to them at that point that a change would really come. I think they wanted to raise consciousness of the problems, point out how alienated people were becoming but they certainly weren't advocating any action. I like reading those authors because it's fascinating to see the build up of emotion and dissatisfaction and alienation that led to revolution and then to read the later books and see just how perverted some of those ideals became when the real Revolution came. It's just heartbreaking to read some of those passages in Sholokhov where the Red soldiers are trying to tell the Cossacks how much better off they'll be under the Bolsheviks and it's heartbreaking for a couple reasons, one because I think the Red soldiers really did believe they would be better off, I think they really did have ideas of this utopian society and two because whether the Cossacks agreed or not, you know there's nothing they can do about it, their lands will be taken away and they will become subjects of a very oppresive regime. It's just an amazing book, it takes such a personal snap shot of that time in history and gives it tremendous weight.

Turk
10-08-2006, 01:22 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huns

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khazar

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Horde

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khanate_of_Kazan

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khanate_of_Astrakhan

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qasim_Khanate

Read all articles, the history clearly says Cossacks are originally Turkish-Tataric, while Slavs were living near dirty swamps around Moscow Turks were establishing empires and kingdoms in the lands of modern Russia. And i didn't say Russian Cossacks are Turkish today. Cuz as i said, they are culturally changed and assimilated.

Cossacks are originally Mongoloid and Tataric. Their language is a part of Turkish. Cossacks comes from Turkish roots. Like Hungarians. They are also remainders of old Hun Turks.

Keyword is "originaly" up there. Otherwise i don't think any "Ivan" can be Turkish.

Thorwench
10-09-2006, 01:58 AM
I think the first part of the book was published in 1928 or somewhere in the 1920ies in a journal called "Octyabr" (I hope I didn't mix up the journals here). It was published in series and was a great success. Then the journal apparently stopped publishing it because they may have thought it too explosive or anyway not in accordance to Soviet ideology. Stalin then personally intervened and ordered the publishing to continue (no one really knows why or at least I didn't find any explanation, but Stalin was a strange man with many inexplicable whims and, being a Georgian, used to be responsible for ethnic groups under Lenin, perhaps he liked that sort of ethnic thing). The remaining parts were then published in another journal and people cued up mightily to get an issue. They even wrote letters to Sholokov to let the lovers come together. I think the last bit was published in the 1940ies.
There is still a dispute if Sholokov really wrote this book but newest research believes he did. I personally find this odd, knowing Sholokov's "New Land under the Plough" and "Destiny" (rough translation of the German titles). Destiny is great and always makes me cry, but they are really different in their ideological habitus. Sholokov also became a big shot in the Communist party and in the literature scene and once said, when faced with literary dissidents, the Gulag would be too good and too merciful for them. I find such a view difficult to reconcile with the Don-book where he takes a very measured and truly realistic stand. But then, I think no one so far has really looked in the double-mindedness, the scissor in our heads we all experienced. It may well be that this a phenomenon which had an impact on how incoherent political viewpoints and commitments were. Perhaps we all have been a bit incoherent.
The Fedin books of the trilogy I mentioned are called (again translations from German): Early Pleasures (plays before the revolution, lots of small middle class, merchants, proletarian trash and artists), An Unusual Summer (revolution and civil war) and The Flame (1941, attack against the Soviet Union). The characters are the same, is like a saga. if you are interested in that sort of thing I have a CD with original recordings of the Russian Army Choir from the 1940ies. Some of the stuff makes your hair on the neck stand up. It also has some revolution-time songs. I can find out if it is possible to send some of the songs via the internet. I am so glad to have found someone who is interested in Russian or Soviet literature of that era, here I am the only one who reads that sort of thing. So if you would like to continue, perhaps in another thread, I would be very delighted. The private messages allow only 2000 signs, alas. Have you ever heard of Tshingis Aitmatov or Daniil Granin (wrote after the WWII)? There is some really good stuff out there. There is also a book called "The Good Stalin" by someone called Jerofeyev (but I check this up). He is the son of Stalin's interpreter for French and writes about his experiences has a child and young man. Its not only about how the Intellegenzija lived in Peredelkino but also about the difficulties they had to face, again "reconciling" their existence as artists (one of their neighbours was the Pasternak family) with their own political opinions and the behaviour they had to display in order to survive.

Idril
10-09-2006, 09:42 PM
So if you would like to continue, perhaps in another thread, I would be very delighted.

Done! click (http://www.online-literature.com/forums/showthread.php?p=266302&posted=1#post266302)

quasimodo1
03-26-2007, 08:19 PM
The Cossacks are a somewhat military group, something of a throwback to Czarist days. Apparently they are notoriously independent and difficult to get on board regarding overall state security. When involved, though, they can really make a difference. PBS has a special on them...check their archives. Quite illuminating. RJs

Anatoliy
06-05-2008, 02:22 PM
what you all are talking about?..... cossacks were real ukrainians, but the word is of turkish origin. they were people, who defended the borders of the great country, which later has become ukraine, russia and byelorus. even now some ukrainians, who are patriots, call themselves cossacks. and during the last census a few thousands of them called themselves not ukrainians, but cossacks (in this way they showed their respect to those, who secured long time ago the borders of their native country).