The land of Nakhchivan has rich literary traditions. Nakhchivan motives occupy a significant place in the people’s literature of Azerbaijan. In the chapters of the epos “Kitabi Dada Gorgud” plots having common subjects with Nakhchivan area and the names of the places and hearths are met. Experts on Gorgud showed that the events going on in the chapters “Bassat’s Killing of Tapagoz” and “Bakil’s Son Imran” are mainly connected with Nakhchivan. The plots, geographical names and heroes of Nakhchivan are met in the eposes “Koroglu”, “Asli and Karam”, and “Gachag Nabi”. All genres of the Azerbaijan people’s oral literature were represented in the folklore of Nakhchivan. There are mainly genres and samples being specific for this area (hakhishta, gulumey, yallibashi songs). The art of ashug – one of the important branches of the people’s literature (mainly in Sharur and Shahbuz districts) was also developed.
Even in ancient times a lot of notable poets and writers, including Gatran Tabrizi, lived and created in Nakhchivan for a while. Being close to the palace of Atabey Mahammad Jahan Pahlavan, gaining of an honor as “the sultan of doctors” Kamaladdin Nakhchivani was popular as a poet, too. During his service in the palace of the Atabeys, Abubakr ibn Khosrov wrote his famous work “Munisnama”, which is valuable for its important social-moral motives and for its humanism. In the Middle Ages, Ahmad an-Nashavi, Najmaddin Nakhchivani, Nassiraddin Tussi, Hindushah Nakhchivani, Mahammad Nakhchivani, Fazlullah Naimi and other scientists and thinkers enriched the Azerbaijan literature with their works of art.
Widely spreading of the movement of enlightenment in the XIX century gave a push to the speedy development of literature and culture in this area. In the literary sphere of Nakhchivan a serious reviving arrests our attention. Literary assembly “Anjumani-shuara”, created in Ordubad (1838) together with classical literary traditions, made a definite influence to the development of new enlightenment-realist literature. In the creative activities of the active members of the assembly as Gudsi Vanandi, Fagir Ordubadi, Ahmadaga Shami, Usta Zeynal Naggash, Molla Huseyn Bikas, Abbas Dahrir, Mashadi Hassan Dabbag and others, the motives of enlightenment ideas, critical-realistic-satirical inclinations, a complaint of the time and protest to injustice, along with the traditions of classical love lyrics, occupy special place. M.T.Sidgi’s (1854-1903) literary-pedagogical heritage has a particular place in the enlightenment-realistic literature of Azerbaijan. His poetical and prose samples, being published in “Numuneyi-akhlag” and “Tohfeyi-banat, or Present to Girls” text books, “Kabla Nassir”, “A Glance to a Statue of Man” works, “School Stories” are complete examples of the Azerbaijan enlightening literature.
Since the 80’s of the XIX century, the well-known writer-publicist and theatre man E.Sultanov (1866-1935) headed the literary-cultural sphere of Nakhchivan. “Intellectuals’ assembly” and “Muslim Shiite Dramatic Art Society”, being established by initiative and leadership of Sultanov, played an important role in organizing of advanced literary-cultured forces in the development of education, culture, press, especially in the establishing and developing of Nakhchivan theatre. J.Mammadguluzada, A.Khalilov, M.A.Suleymanov, S.Khalilov, M.Sheykhov, A.Sultanov, M.J.Shurbi and others, being the members of that society, carried out important services in this field.
In the XX century the land of Nakhchivan presented a lot of great personalities to social, literary-art thoughts and culture of Azerbaijan. Jalil Mammadguluzada (1869-1932), a genius writer, a playwright and publicist, the founder of “Molla Nasraddin” magazine, occupies an exceptional place in the history of the realist-democratic Azerbaijan literature for his stories, topical satire as “Incidents of Danabash Village”, his immortal comedy “The Dead Ones”, “The Book of My Mother”, “Meeting of Crazy Men” and other plays. The writer created his works as “Tea Ceremony”, “Currents’ Play”, “Incidents of Danabash Village” and “Post Box” while he was living in Nakhchivan.
M.S.Ordubadi, great master of novels, was the founder of historical novel genre in Azerbaijan literature and created its perfect examples (four-volumed epic “Misty Tabriz”, “Sword and Pen” and others). The majority of plots of “Misty Tabriz” are the fruit of his observations during the Nakhchivan period of his life. There are motives connected with Nakhchivan in “Sword and Pen”, too. Literary heritage of the poet and journalist A.Gamkussar occupies worthy place in the history of our literature. The coryphaeus of our national romantic poetry and playwright Husseyn Javid’s humanist lyrics, “Sheykh Sanan”, “Devil”, “Prophet”, “Lame Teymour”, “Sayavush”, “Khayyam” and other poetical and prosaic dramas, “Azar” poetical saga became the great works of Azerbaijan literature. In the 20’s of the XX century new young forces emerged into the literature. Young writers joining together in Nakhchivan department of “Golden Pens” society regularly published their first pen experiments in the newspaper “Sharg Gapissi”. Living and creating in Nakhchivan during different periods people’s writers M.Ibrahimov and A. Valiyev also influenced to the development of literary-cultural process and theatre positively. At the same time, events being connected with Nakhchivan gave rich creative materials to both writers. M.Ibrahimov took the plot of his play “Hayat” from the Nakhchivan mode of life and A.Valiyev used his Nakhchivan impressions in his novel “Budag’s Memoirs”.
The eminent representatives of modern Azerbaijan literature – a poet and playwright I.Safarli, people’s poet Mammad Araz, and a poet Rustam Behrudi were also brought up in the land of Nakhchivan.
A big group of Azerbaijan writers live and create in Nakhchivan. Establishing of Nakhchivan department of the Azerbaijan Writers’ Unity (now Unity of Nakhchivan Writers), publishing of the province newspaper “Sharg Gapissi”, and local radio broadcasting gave a serious push to literary sphere of Nakhchivan.
In Nakhchivan, alongside the poetry, remarkable successes were gained in the field of prose as well. People’s writer H.Ibrahimov’s novels, “One Tenth of the Century”, “Slander”, “In the Tidings of Tomorrow”, “Spring Rain”, and different stories are among the achievements of modem Azerbaijan literature.
Traditions of drama are being continued successfully. Successful steps are being made in the field of journalism, too. The works of local dramaturges and journalists of Nakhchivan deserves a unique place.
The land of Nakhchivan presented to the literary criticism of Azerbaijan notable scientists as M.Shahtakhtli, M.Jafar, A.Sharif, A.Sultanli, M.H.Tahmassib and A.Zamanov. The well-known literary critics Y.Seyidov, M.Sadigli, F.Husseynov, A.Safarli and others were brought up in this land. Venerable enlightenment figure and literary critic L.Husseynzadah defended a thesis about A.Gamkussar (1950) for the first time in Nakhchivan, found out and published the divan (collection) of Jahanshah Hagigi, the ruler and poet of the Garagoyunlu state, and investigated the works of classics of our literature.
During last 30 years here was brought up the whole generation of critics and literary critics. Monographic research works of I.Habibbeyli, the Associate Member of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences, Y.Akhundlu and A.Ismayilov, doctors of philology, about the great classics of Azerbaijan literature J.Mammadguluzadah, M.S.Ordubadi, H.Javid are valuable presents to our literary criticism. Late literary critic I.Magsudov investigated the life and creative activity of E.Sultanov. At present, H.Hashimli, M.Jafarov, A.Azimli, A.Gadimov, F.Kazimova, M.Muradov, I.Jafarli, H.Mehdi and others carry on successful research works about the history of Nakhchivan literary sphere and modern literary process.