For decades, there has been a controversy about the identity of Kurban Said, the pseudonym used to hide the identity of the author of this novel. Recent extensive research about the authorship issue points to the following conclusions and identifies the creative activity of several people involved with the final version of the novel:
(1) The core author of the novel "Ali and Nino" is Azerbaijani writer and statesman Yusif Vazir Chamanzaminli (1887–1943). Evidence comes from both his life experiences and his works including his diaries, articles, short stories and novels, which are archived in the Manuscript Institute, Baku, Azerbaijan.
(2) The fingerprints of Lev Nussimbaum (1905–1942), who wrote as Essad Bey, are evident in the novel and can clearly be identified in folkloric and legendary material some of which he copied from his earlier books. It should be noted that much of this material is neither culturally or ethnically reliable. Lev Nussimbaum had fled the Bolsheviks takeover in Azerbaijan in 1920 when he was only 14 years old and he admits himself that he had lived a very sheltered life.
(3) Essad Bey took passages related to the travels of Ali and Nino, specifically about Tiflis (Tbilisi) and Persia directly from The Snake's Skin (Das Schlangenhemd, 1928) by "Ali and Nino" – Literary Robbery! Georgian writer Grigol Robakidze (1882–1962). Whether Robakidze knew about these "borrowings" is not known. However, Essad Bey went to considerable length to disguise the material which would make one suspect that, indeed, it is plagiarized. Research shows that Essad Bey personally knew Robakidze.
(4) Austrian Baroness Elfriede Ehrenfels (1894–1982) registered the novel Ali and Nino with German authorities, claiming that the pseudonym Kurban Said belonged to her. However, evidence of her involvement in the actual writing of the novel has yet to be proven.
An Italian edition, Ali Khan, appeared in 1944] under the name M Essad Bey, Nussimbaum's pen name. Strangely, in this edition, Nino Kipiani is called "Erika Kipiani" (obviously not a true Georgian name). The name of Nussimbaum's wife was "Erika" but she had run off with his colleague, René Fülöp-Miller, in a scandalous divorce (1935). Other changes were made in this edition as well.
This Italian edition was published posthumously under suspicious conditions by Essad Bey's drug dealer Vacca Bello who called himself "Ahmed Giamil Vacca-Mazzara." He tried to show that he was related to Essad Bey four generations back and, thus, Essad Bey's only living descendent, and therefore, in line to inherit Essad Bey's royalties from his various books. Such an edition as the Italian Ali Khan has never again been re-issued.
Read more about this topic: Ali And Nino: A Love Story
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