My greatest debt is to the singers from Central Asia whom I was able to record in the course of many research trips to the Turkic-speaking areas of the former Soviet Union and of China. I would like to thank in particular Žumabay Bazarov, who has performed for me on many occasions, from my first visit to Karakalpakistan in 1981 to his stay in Germany in the autumn of 1997. These research trips were made possible by invitations from the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan, the Academy of Social Sciences of China, in particular its Xinjiang branch, and the University of Nukus, as well as by generous grants from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst. I have received much help from native scholars, with the recording, transcription and translation of Turkic epic and heroic poems; without their cooperation and advice much of my research would have been difficult if not impossible to carry out.
I would also like to record my gratitude to Gregory Nagy for his suggestion that I should write this book for his series, and for his encouragement and help over the years. I am most grateful to Joseph Harris and to an anonymous reader for Cornell University Press for making a number of valuable suggestions for improvement. I have also profited by the many helpful comments and corrections made by Gavin Lewis in the process of preparing the manuscript for publication. Although I have followed the advice I was given, there are doubtless many shortcomings left, for which I alone must bear responsibility.