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''Dictionary of the Khazars: A Lexicon Novel'' ( sr-cyrl, Хазарски речник, rtl=yes, ) is the first novel by
Serbian Serbian may refer to: * someone or something related to Serbia, a country in Southeastern Europe * someone or something related to the Serbs, a South Slavic people * in both meanings, depending on the context, it may refer to: ** Serbian language ...
writer Milorad Pavić, published in 1984. Originally written in
Serbian Serbian may refer to: * someone or something related to Serbia, a country in Southeastern Europe * someone or something related to the Serbs, a South Slavic people * in both meanings, depending on the context, it may refer to: ** Serbian language ...
, the novel has been translated into many languages. It was first published in English by
Knopf Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. () is an American publishing house that was founded by Alfred A. Knopf Sr. and Blanche Knopf in 1915. Blanche and Alfred traveled abroad regularly and were known for publishing European, Asian, and Latin American writers in ...
,
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New York
in 1988. There is no easily discerned plot in the conventional sense, but the central question of the book (the mass
religious conversion Religious conversion is the adoption of a set of beliefs identified with one particular religious denomination to the exclusion of others. Thus "religious conversion" would describe the abandoning of adherence to one denomination and affiliating ...
of the
Khazar The Khazars (, ; he, כוזרים, ''Kuzarim''; tr, Hazarlar; az, Xəzərlər; ba, Хазарҙар; tt, Хәзәрләр, ''Xäzärlär''; ''Xazar''; fa, خزر; uk, Хоза́ри, ''Khozáry''; rus, Хаза́ры, ''Khazáry''; hu, Kazá ...
people) is based on a historical event generally dated to the last decades of the 8th century or the early 9th century when the Khazar royalty and nobility converted to
Judaism Judaism ( he, יהדות, ''Yahadut''; originally from Hebrew , ''Yehudah'', "Judah", via Greek ''Ioudaismos''; the term itself is of Anglo-Latin origin c. 1400) is an Abrahamic primarily ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, ...
, and part of the general population followed. However, most of the characters and events described in the novel are entirely fictional, as is the culture ascribed to the Khazars in the book, which bears little resemblance to any literary or
archeological Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeology is often considered a branch of socio-cultural anthropology, but archaeologists also draw from biological, geological, ...
evidence. The novel takes the form of three cross-referenced mini-
encyclopedia An encyclopedia or encyclopaedia (British English) is a reference work or compendium providing summaries of knowledge either from all branches or from a particular field or discipline. Encyclopedias are divided into articles or entries that ...
s, sometimes contradicting each other, each compiled from the sources of one of the major
Abrahamic religions The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religions that claim descent from the Judaism of the ancient Israelites and the worship of the God of Abra ...
(
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. It is the world's largest religion, with about 2.4 billion followers. Its adherents, known as Christians, make up a majority of the populati ...
,
Islam Islam (;There are ten pronunciations of ''Islam'' in English, differing in whether the first or second syllable has the stress, whether the ''s'' is or , and whether the ''a'' is pronounced , or (when the stress is on the first syllable) ( ...
, and
Judaism Judaism ( he, יהדות, ''Yahadut''; originally from Hebrew , ''Yehudah'', "Judah", via Greek ''Ioudaismos''; the term itself is of Anglo-Latin origin c. 1400) is an Abrahamic primarily ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, ...
). In his introduction to the work, Pavić wrote: The book comes in two different editions, one "male" and one "female", which differ in only a critical passage in a single paragraph. Pavić stated that the Khazars were a metaphor for a small people surviving in between great powers and great religions. In Yugoslavia, Serbs recognized their own fate; it was the same in Slovenia and elsewhere, a schoolbook on survival. The same in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, and on and on. A French critic said, 'We are all Khazars in the age of nuclear threat and poisoned environment.' A
ballet Ballet () is a type of performance dance that originated during the Italian Renaissance in the fifteenth century and later developed into a concert dance form in France and Russia. It has since become a widespread and highly technical form of d ...
adaption of the ''Dictionary of the Khazars'' is staged in Madlenianum Opera and Theatre.


See also

*Khazars#In_literature, Khazars in fiction *''Kuzari'' * Han Shaogong's ''A Dictionary of Maqiao''


References


External links


Dictionary of the Khazars: a novel by Milorad Pavic
excerpts from "Postmodernism as Nightmare: Milorad Pavic's Literary Demolition of Yugoslavia" by Andrew Wachtel {{Khazaria 1984 novels False documents Metafictional novels Postmodern novels Secret histories Serbian novels Khazars Nonlinear narrative novels