Dictionary of the Khazars  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Dictionary of the Khazars: A Lexicon Novel is the first novel by Serbian writer Milorad Pavić, published in 1984. Originally written in Serbian, the novel has been translated into many languages. It was first published in English by Knopf, 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 of the Khazar people) is based on an 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, 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 evidence.

The novel takes the form of three cross-referenced mini-encyclopedias, sometimes contradicting each other, each compiled from the sources of one of the major Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism). In his introduction to the work, Pavic wrote:

"No chronology will be observed here, nor is one necessary. Hence each reader will put together the book for himself, as in a game of dominoes or cards, and, as with a mirror, he will get out of this dictionary as much as he puts into it, for you [...] cannot get more out of the truth than what you put into it."

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 in his novel Khazars symbolically represent Serbs.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Dictionary of the Khazars" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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