The topic of the history/story-based novel gives us the freedom to look at the concept from two perspectives: one being epistemological and the other artistic. The actual term istoriya (translated as ‘history’ and ‘story’) belongs both to science and to literature and in one case it can mean actual events, while in another it can be merely a narrative. Therefore, it would be intriguing to see not only whether a novel can serve as a ‘source’ and bring knowledge of the past (potential that has always attracted writers), but also if history can be read as a novel (a hazard that has usually repelled historians). Does erudition stay away from a fascinating story and what else can a novel teach a historian? These questions serve as a starting point in this article.
The study, in the first place, summarizes some of the main features of the historical novel genre, with a special emphasis on its connection with the national epic novel. But this is not an ultimate goal, is made in view of the discussion of Under the Yoke (1889/1894), the Bulgarian national epic novel – whether and to what extent it is a historical novel? – In the second, more important part, the research focuses on the synchronous reception of the novel through аn analysis of two detailed critical studies, appeared simultaneously in 1896, presenting the eyes of the “young” around the “Misal/Thought” magazine. The problem of whether the essence of the “nationality per se”, the “spirit” of national history and “destiny” can be understood “from outside”, by the foreign reader, the European man, is at the center of the discussion. The structural reflections of the opposition between Literature and History in the form of the antithesis Work–Author are also studied. Namely, how in the spirit of neo-Kantian aesthetics the figure of the author Vazov is divided into an artist who difuses in the Work (in the role of a “naïve” everyday life descriptor of the era) and a poet, bearer of its philosophical-historical meta-consciousness. It is the second of them that is to blame for the failure of Under the Yoke as a historical novel (of national-epic type): the author-Vazov did not understand the broad “spirit” of the Age and History: he has humiliated, parodied History by “translating” it into the language of literary fiction/lie: Literature seen as an involuntary (and therefore “serious”) parody of historical truth. On this basis, the study formulates a genre aporia (double bind), referring to another great work from/for the same era – “Notes on the Bulgarian Uprisings”: historicity in the historical novel is possible only as an “object of desire”.
The article clarifies the concept of a story, narrator, memoirs, an eyewitness account and a major event in Bulgarian history according to the book Notes on the Bulgarian Uprisings by Zaharij Stoyanov.
The text is based on Georgi Tsanev’s big study On Historical Novel issued in three consecutive books of his “Art and Critics” Magazine in 1942 and explores the technic of historical novel composition in Bulgarian, Russian and West European works, as also the challenges of recovery in the game of realities, the different types of historical narrative and last but not least – the dynamics of writers’, critics’ and readers’ reception.
In the national story of Turkish slavery, the words “janissary” and “pomak” are code. They are charged with the absolute meaning of evil. Became the object of artistic fiction, their reception is almost always subject to prevailing conjunctures, not to historical justice. “Janissary” and “Pomak” are some of the most helpful labels aimed at keeping alive the myth of slavery, on which there are parasitizing ideological discourses. The latter include the ethnic dimension as the basis of the meanings sought. In the face of several novels, Bulgarian fiction presents different meanings of these historical figures, weaving their authenticity into certain cultural models.
The text examines the “open” readings of Anton Donchev’s novel Time of Parting of the last decades through the attitudes towards the history of its creation, the film of the same name and especially through the prism of two opposing ideological doctrines, to highlight the legitimacy of the boundaries of this type of interpretation. The main thesis is that in this way both opposing interpretations with their arguments are made meaningless in their interaction within the field of the novel as a piece of art, as they both neglect the main message of the novel and the actualization of this message in the first decades of the 21st century.
The “postmodern conceptual project” in contemporary Bulgarian literature chalked up an undisputed paragon of the genre with the publication of Iana Boukova’s novel Traveling in the Direction of the Shadow in 2009. But it was in 2014 with its reception and readerly success following the second edition of the novel that its literary critical value became apparent. The fiction dismantles ideological constructs of the historical metanarrative and rebuilds the authenticity of the pre-Revival by restoring its micro-narratives. By making use of postmodern compositional techniques and intertextuality, it offers a reinterpretation of the historical realia and the figure of the narrator.
The novel Photo Stoyanovich is an attempt not just to create another historical narrative, which will repeat painfully familiar scenes from the Bulgarian Revival, but rather to allow for dialogue with the history. The claim that recently was attributed to history to “speak” the truth is at the heart of this dialogue. The author takes advantage of some techniques typical of postmodern writing – the game, the hoax, the collage. The subtitle “novel-collage” draws attention to the specifics of the book, in which literature meets non-literature, and the novel itself is built on a collage principle, sketching – in the form of various fragments – photos, letters, articles (or individual passages) from newspapers, notes, diaries.
The text presents the absorption of historical plots in the epic novel narrative of the writer Konstantin Petkanov about Ravna Gora. In this unified novel corpus of Bulgarian fiction from the first half of the 20th century are resurrected not only legendary historical figures, but we are also presented, seen in an autobiographical light, the author’s countryman from the prehistories of his childhood. The text explores immersion itself of the writer K. Petkanov in the cozyness of Thracian patriarchal living and in the destinies of his idealized characters.
The matter of Power is one of the main topics in the Vladimir Zarev’s novels. This article analyses it through the universal prism of language. In reference to the question of the historical existence of the human the role of the Word is interpreted from a few points of view – the Word as memory, the Word as game, the Word as self-knowledge. In all three cases the Word acquires power over the time and individuality and the historical narrative grows into an existential and ontological one.
The most predictable analysis of Blood (1933) by Konstantin Konstantinov is the novel to be presented in terms of its social, historical, political characteristics, to look for reflections on the Bulgarian twentieth century or projections of real people. The present analysis offers a different view – the text to be considered as a work in which artistic aspects of literary utopia can be found. Such an interpretation allows a more complete presentation of the utopian world described in Konstantinov’s novel.
Thе aim of this article is to suggest a comparative analysis of the historical facts appearing to be the common focus in both Dimitar Dimov’s Tobacco and Yana Yazova’s The Salty Bay. Given the limited volume, it dares not claim to be exhaustive, but rather highlights the general story landmarks. From the position of a professional historian, Irina Yakimova reflects on the degree of event authenticity in each of the two novels, with either author actually proposing two alternative but mutually complementary views on the consequences of the Second World War, Bulgaria’s role in it and the notorious date 9 September 1944, as a major turning point in Bulgarian history.
The article addresses the period from the end of 1944 and the beginning of 1945 and focuses on the historical events impact on the fate of people from different social layers, as this reflection is recreated in the novels War by Yana Yazova and The Meek by Angel Igov. The central characters’ story in the two novels, who stand on both sides of the line that radically divided Bulgarian society after the Communists took power back on September 9, 1944, is traced. The psycho-emotional profiles of the characters and the narrative strategies, that are used to motivate their personal behavior, are analyzed. The characters’ fate is the basis on which readers are left to value the historical events. The article also emphasizes the narrative techniques, which consider the time distance of the writing in relation to the depicted events, so that the historical narrative is as close as possible to the truth.
The long-story Rally by Stefan Dichev (1960), one of the favorite youth-adventure works in Bulgarian literature, is a direct subject of the article. First of all, attention is focused on the restoration of the different, diverse contexts of its creation, not as a one-time act, but as a process lasting over time: the genre fluctuations and the changes in the various editions, the illustrations and the artistic design as a book, the extremely mysterious relations with another, simultaneously created work – Diyarbakir Exiles by M. Marchevski. The unusual creation of the “Rally” is an occasion to touch in a broader context on the relationship of literature with other, neighboring discursive territories, the “translation” of the literary text into other discursive languages: illustration and art design, film adaptation, but above all comics, as far as Rally was born just as the first successful experience in this intermediate genre.
The article examines three scenarios of the relationship between literature, history and parahistory through the prism of three novels: one was written before the collapse of socialism; the other two – in post-socialist culture. All three turn to the same historical epoch – the Bulgarian Middle Ages and focus on the same literary and mythical hero – Boyan the Magician. The first is an example of upgrading history through the author’s parahistorical penetrations, developed, thanks to the autonomous novel form, and moreover, the reversal of points of view and the placement of the parahistorical through parapsychology in an effort to rewrite the history. The second is an example of the use of the sensational historical for a sensational plot. The third is about the use of literature as a camouflage of parahistory and the risk of misleading the reader who wants to accept the historical novel as the absolute truth. The text notes the increased convergence of history, parahistory and literature in recent decades and connects it with the eternal shortage of history in the rise of any nationalism, backed by many historical and quasi-historical facts. The modern view of the Bulgarian Middle Ages is characterized by the attempt to radically correct the national memory. The whole offensive for a new “testing” of historical facts, the attempt to literally “reverse” historical conventions, speaks of permanent national dissatisfaction – a topic to be addressed later.
The article focuses on the functioning of concepts such as historical prototype, archetype and mysticism in the dramaturgical texts by Anton Strashimirov (“St. Ivan Rilski”, 1911), Konstantin Mutafov (“Omurtag Khan”, 1924), Lyudmil Stoyanov (“Tomiris”, 1921), Nikolay Raynov (“Once upon a Time…”, 1923) and Boyan Danovski (“Yoan Vladimir”, 1924). These plays interpret in an arbitrary way historical figures, facts and events from the Early Middle Ages in Bulgaria. The new type of protagonist in them is intricately modeled between the historically inherited as memory and facts, as a cultural archetype and as a self-defining modern character. The article seeks to answer several basic questions: how the Bulgarian playwright handles historical facts, why he replaces the documented and the real-historical with the mystical-legendary, the fairy-tale, the fantasy and even the surreal. What drives artistic reflection and provokes the mystification of historical narrative, the creation of a wide network of cultural associations, and the unlocking of archetypal mythological models? The answer to these questions shows that the historical theme is a necessary impetus for the modernization of the Bulgarian drama through the use of the principle of aesthetic syncretism in the tens and the twenties of the twentieth century.
The text reveals the reckless human attempt to skip the a posteriori – a priori gate and on the side of the finiteness and immediacy of the occasional existence, to deny the infinity of the divine being. Two remarkable authors ‒ Friedrich Nietzsche and Emiliyan Stanev ‒ take this road and frustrate in their efforts to establish the moral rightfulness of the antichrist, including via loading themselves with this ungrateful existential role.
The radicalisation of Kant’s critical philosophy by the Jena Romanticism and, above all, by Novalis, is decisive for the understanding of the modern relationship between philosophy and poetry (i.e. literature or, more generally, art), which is both a relationship of continuity and rupture: such is the starting hypothesis of the study. The shared horizon, but also a matrix of the ambiguous relationship of philosophy and poetry, is the turn I venture to describe as a transition from ontology to ontogony. After Kant, ontology became a field of modal orientation: the world is a necessary world. The world is becoming a task. The study delves into the conceptual depth of this turn, respectively of the relation between philosophy and poetry, based on the reading of Kant’s critical philosophy proposed by Gilles Deleuze. The analysis sets itself the task of highlighting unexpected yet crucial dimensions of the complex relationship between philosophy and literature, established in modern terms only in the second half of the 18th century. The figures of “Reason” and “Madness”, expressing the immanent tension of Kant’s productive power for imagination, will occupy a central place among them.
In his study “Metaphor and Myth: Percy, Ricoeur, and Frye”, Hugh White aims to question the traditional dichotomy between the cognitive and affective dimensions of metaphor by proposing a theory of metaphor that brings these two dimensions together on an intersubjective level. Criticizing Paul Ricoeur’s theory, White draws on Walker Percy's definition of “catachrestic metaphor” in order to clarify Northrop Frye’s understanding of the ecstatic metaphor and its role in religious myth. Here is the place in advance to ask the question to what extent it is appropriate to equate the metaphor with an error (in the case of the catachrestic metaphor) and to what extent the believed absurdity in the myth can be defined as a metaphor. I propose an alternative to White's vision of metaphor, referring to Douglas Bergren's study “The Use and Abuse of Metaphor”. I will also refer critically to individual passages by Frye to show the steps taken to bring the affective and cognitive aspects of metaphor closer together in the perspective of “metaphorical construing”.
The article focuses on the battle against modernism by the Marxist theory of reflection in Eastern Europe. The term reflection was in circulation as one of the key concepts of the dogmatic Marxist-Leninist aesthetics and especially of Todor Pavlov’s theory of reflection, in which literature is seen as an authentic reflection of reality, it requires the correct mirror of sober realism. The confrontation between Isaac Passy and Todor Pavlov in the early 1960s demonstrates the mechanisms of subverting the ideological state.
In the context of western utopian philosophical and literary tradition from Plato to Dostoevsky, Mikhail Gorbachev’s book Perestroika: New Thinking for Our Country and the World (1987 and 1988) demonstrates not only its utopian character, but simultaneously tempts one to come with theoretical and practical dystopian objections. This essay analyzes six key utopian features of the book and their dystopian metamorphoses. First, the utopian postulate assuming all people are philosophers and, therefore, embrace perestroika’s only possible truth is an abstract philosophical concept, but not a practical possibility. Second, glasnost is the new garb of the old utopian requirement for a cataphatic language fully expressing the truth; language, however, can lie, too. Third, utopian self-criticism of Soviet dignitaries fosters incredulity and hatred in their subjects, who detest them as either weak leaders or self-serving hypocrites. Fourth, utopian belief in a future true and flourishing socialism is undermined by the paucity of real socialism. Fifth, perestroika as a utopia presupposes an idealistic temporality, which, however, contradicts perestroika’s claims to historical materialism and dialectics. Finally, following in the footsteps of utopia, which is an oxymoronic closed-open world not allowing imports of imperfection but exporting perfection, perestroika proclaims its self-sufficiency, but also lays bare its latent imperialism and militarism. Perestroika’s contradictory utopian-dystopian essence results to a great extent from the naïve quasi Marxism enjoying an unchallenged status in the USSR. Paradoxically, but also inevitably, pseudo Marxism smothers all other philosophical alternatives and thus leads not to strengthening, but collapsing of the USSR and its own philosophical and practical suicide. Keywords: perestroika, utopia, dystopia, philosophy, literature
This article deals with the genealogy of the Radical Left and the Conservative Revolution ideas in Dostoevsky’s work focusing on his novel “The Demons” (1872). It shows the genesis of the radical left-wing position of the young Dostoevsky and his mature and late conversion to Conservative Revolution as a model for understanding what happens with neoliberalism in the post-Trump era.