Historians views on memoirs | Статья в журнале «Молодой ученый»

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Рубрика: История

Опубликовано в Молодой учёный №15 (357) апрель 2021 г.

Дата публикации: 11.04.2021

Статья просмотрена: 1 раз

Библиографическое описание:

Пирниязова, Т. О. Historians views on memoirs / Т. О. Пирниязова. — Текст : непосредственный // Молодой ученый. — 2021. — № 15 (357). — С. 133-135. — URL: https://moluch.ru/archive/357/79772/ (дата обращения: 19.04.2021).

The article analyzes the views, concepts of historians about memoirs. Since the appearance of the memoirs, historians' opinions have been divided into opposing concepts about the use of memoirs as a historical source. The author comes to the conclusion that now in the new and recent history of Karakalpakstan it is advisable to use the memoirs of statesmen and representatives of science and culture.

Keywords : memoirs, history, concepts, events, interpretation, historical sources, modern history, recent history, Karakalpakstan.

In the mosaic of historians' opinions, two dominants, directly opposite approaches can be distinguished: hierarchical (postulating the «auxiliaryness», «complementarity» of memories in relation to archival and other types of sources) and parity (the memoirs are recognized as equal with other sources the right to a «presumption of credibility»).

Some historians consider the memoirs «a very solid material of paramount importance», because «often a small feature sheds a lot of light on the goals and motives of the main engines of great events». However, “the contemporary is addicted to this or that person, belongs to this or that party; he can be a deceitful person, sometimes even without a clear and understandable purpose. Therefore, we must always know who the author was and to what extent we can trust him». [1, 51]

Representatives of the cultural-historical approach believe that memoirs provide us with interesting material for observing the mental makeup and development of the modern author's society. [2, 8]

Historians of the factual school believe that not everyone knows how to tell without adding, and no one can abandon their personal point of view on events, for each of them he is always the center. Hence, every recollection is a binding of «poetry and truth»... gives only one corner of the historical picture. To give a complete picture and to highlight the inevitable — in all memoirs inevitable — «poetry», it is necessary to collect memories on a massive scale... Only then will we get the resultant, close to historical truth. [3, 109]

But there are also historians who believe that memories are not historical documents; they are a cross between history and fiction. [4, 8]

Main part

From the rostrum of the All-Union Conference of Historians in December 1962, Academician I. M. Mayskiy directly stated that «the period of the personality cult simply killed this genre of literature». [5.8]. The sad fate of memoirs in the period of the 1930s — mid-1950s was explained in literature only as a consequence of the personality cult.

From the mid-1950s to the mid-1980s, attitudes toward the memoir were controversial. It reflected the political situation in the country, the state of culture, historical science. A certain ratio of professionalism, ideology and politics made itself felt in these years. Professional assessments of recollections were still dominated by the factual approach, which made a number of exaggerated scientific and moral demands (reliability, sincerity, modesty) on memoirists, which determined the degree of documentation they needed.

Proceeding from the completeness and accuracy of reflection of specific historical facts, which is mandatory with such an approach, memoirs were more often referred to as additional historical sources.

In a factual approach to memoirs, researchers usually paid special attention to the subjectivity of the memoirist, which was expressed in fragmentation and one-sidedness, in likes and dislikes, silences and «reminiscences», in selecting facts, modernizing their assessments, and using other sources.

It should be noted that in a number of works, with a factual approach to memoirs, subjectivity is viewed as a completely surmountable drawback that does not diminish the importance of memories. Comparison of different sources is a universal recipe for the historian to identify subjectivity in certain memoirs and to draw from them data that have objective value.

They also treated differently the role of the author's “I”. Typical is the reminder that the memoirist «must give a truthful story, not exaggerate his role, show not only his achievements, but also mistakes, and also not forget about the role of neighbors». [6, 10]

Speaking about the moral requirements for memoirists — to be sincere, to strive to preserve their own vision of the facts of the past, many authors believe: “It is tempting and pleasant to write your memoirs. You do not love anyone so much; you do not know anyone as much as yourself. The subject is inexhaustible. But it's difficult. You cannot lie; to be sincere is a physical impossibility. The pen will sometimes stop, as if running before an abyss — on something that an outsider would read indifferently». [7, 60]

With a factual approach to memoirs, along with moral and ethical wishes for the author (sincerity, modesty), there is also a professional requirement — the reliability of what is described. However, in none of the works on memories the concept of «reliability» is explained. It includes dissimilar elements, and therefore it must be considered from at least two sides:

1) Reliability in a simple statement of specific, «dead» facts (events, incidents, phenomena), in the fixation of their time, place, characters. In this case, we have the right to demand from the memoirist, if not absolute accuracy, then at least good faith.

Connecting additional sources is not contraindicated in this case: it does not reduce the «purity» of memories. If there are no such sources, then it is not a sin to play it safe, that is, following the advice of the leader of the Youngerkhivans P. Yusupov, make a reservation: «If my memory serves me right». [8, 16]

2) Reliability in the description and assessment of «living» facts:

a) feelings, thoughts, views of the memoirist (requirement of autohistoricism);

b) the appearance and behavior of other people;

c) events as processes consisting of a set of actions of different persons.

The main advantage of memory is the preservation of the unrepeatable, unique, and therefore the task of a memoirist is to be able to express his direct impression, the brighter the better. The task of the memoirist is to select the most typical from among the people whom he personally saw, from the circumstances well known to him, to correctly conjecture, to recreate in them that which reveals the meaning of events, human characters.

Results and discussions

The question of the genre of the memories has been raised more than once. Memoirs were seen by some as a kind of historical research, while others — as a kind of fiction.

In a number of works that appeared in the second half of the 20th century, the tendency to view memories from a cultural and historical point of view is becoming more noticeable. As a phenomenon of culture, social consciousness, national memory and, of course, — full-fledged historical sources — they appear before the readers in these studies.

Probably not a single type of literature strengthens people's memory to such an extent as memoirs. And if eyewitnesses are silent, time becomes tongue less. When they try to weaken the people's memory, they lay a heavy hand on memoirs. The principle is especially close to memoirs: the reflection of history in a person.

Memoirs, conveying the author's impressions or eyewitness accounts of certain persons or events, enliven and concretize these events, help to create the image of the author and his contemporaries, the mood and character of the era.

A memoirist, anxious to inform his descendants about the past with the desired degree of reliability, often forgets that first of all he leaves them in this way his own, and, moreover, an unadorned portrait. But it is precisely this portrait that is the most reliable that is contained in the memoirs and makes them the most valuable source, a human document.


Memoirs are important not only for filling gaps in other sources; much more important is the specificity of their content, which can be defined by the formula: «Personality in history, history in personality», and as a result — «Historical self-knowledge by a person of himself».

In this regard, memoirs cannot be replaced by documents of official records management, nor by historical works proper, nor by works of fiction.

The peculiarity of the memoirs is "... as if a meeting of the times of the past and the present», when «a dialogue between the memoirist and himself is taking place, but years and decades younger».

Memoir literature is a phenomenon from the point of view of cultural and historical life, it is quite new in the historiography of Karakalpakstan. It is known that it has become a tradition to write memoirs of the country's leaders, writers, military commanders about their life path, about participation in historical events.

The appearance of the memoirs of the «statesmen» of Karakalpakstan, scientists and cultural figures can be explained by the following motive: they understood history as the continuous life of people in time, in which the past and the present are separated by a conventional, indefinable boundary, mutually penetrate each other; the past is embodied in the present, the present becomes the past every second. What was happening to them at the moment — it also became a story, which is such not only for their descendants, but also for themselves.

The later appearance of memoir literature can also be explained by the fact that in a short time to get a lot of memoirs written spontaneously, i.e. under the influence of an inner need to share my impressions and thoughts about the experience, it was unrealistic. For the realization of such a need, a certain level of culture was necessary, first of all. Therefore, probably, the authors of the memoir literature were: famous political figures — P. Seitov, N. Japakov, K. Kamalov, E. Aitmuratov, K. Rzayev, A. Kunnazarov, S. Kaniyazov; participants in military operations: N. Shcherbakov, G. Kapustin, A. Piskunov, J. Atashev, U. Arzimbetov, T. Abdimuratov; workers of the national economy, science and culture: K. Ayimbetov, I. Sagitov, S. Kamalov, H. Seitov, M. Kinbaev, Sh. Usnaddinov, K. Uteniyazov, A. Shamuratova, O. Khalmuratov, B. Kurbanov, A. Kamalova, A. Utaliev, A. Tleubergenov, Sh. Karimkhodjaev, M. Orjanova, A. Khudaybergenov and others.

Memoirs influence not only the content of historical science, but also, to a certain extent, the form and style of research work. This influence can explain, for example, the raising of the question of the historian's right, on the basis of indisputable documentary evidence, to reconstruct the dialogue.


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  2. Chechulin N. Memoirs, their meaning and place in a number of historical sources. M., 1920.
  3. Professionalism of the historian and ideological environment. M., 1994.
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  8. Yusupov Polvonniyoz walk. Yosh hivaliklar tarikhi. Hotiralar. -Urganch: Khorazm, 2001.

Ключевые слова

history, interpretation, memoirs, concepts, events, historical sources, modern history, recent history, Karakalpakstan
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