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Bulgarian Literature
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Bulgarian literature does not have a smooth and uninterrupted development. The most significant period in its history lasted four centuries. On the other hand, however, the most prminent representatives of the Bulgarian literature were often preachers, spiritual and revolutionary leaders, advocates of the National Liberation, freedom and democracy. Bulgarian literature is felt to be an integrative part of the building the national consciousness, confidence and dignity.

In the Middle Ages Bulgarian literature had already had a history of over a thousand years. The eleventh-century jubilee was recently celebrated of the special alphabet, called Glagolisa, which was used for the translation of the Gospel into Slavic. In 863 the clergyman Constantine the Philosopher, whose secular name was Cyril, was assigned by the Byzantine authorities to spread the sacred Byzantine books to Moravia in the language of its native population. In 869 after Cyril's death, his brother Methodius continued his noble task. The alphabet named after Cyril was a later revision of Glagolitsa. The Cyrilic alphabet is still used by all Bulgarians, Russians, Ukrainians and Serbians.

Being a cradle of the Slavic culture, Bulgarian literature flourished with religious work at first. Their authors fulfilled two tasks at a time: they preached and advocated independence from Byzantine. The most outstanding representatives of that period in Bulgarian literature were Kliment of Ohrid, Constantine of Preslav, Chernorozets Hrabar, whose literary works in its essence was anti-Byzantine. Later their beliefs were over by Tsar Simeon who was himself aa remarkable politician and a man of letters. He encouraged Bulgarian culture t break away with the Greek canons. The icons in Ohrid and Preslav give evidence of a new treatment of the official literature production. At the same time the body of literature about saints and apocrypha, legends with ambiguous interpretation was increasing and was suggestive of the emerging heretic Bogomil movement. The latter seemed to have supporters even in the remotest corners of the kingdom and was directed against the privileged feudal lords and the clergy.

In the period of Byzantine domination (1018 - 1186) the development of Bulgarian literature was retarded and hindered. During the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (1186 - 1396), however, it started prospering again. The 14th century was a landmark in its development when such eminent writers worked as Theodosii of Turnovo and his disciples, Evtimii of Turnovo who wrote the biography of Ivan Rilski and St. Petka as well as his follower Grigorii Tsamblak who wrote the eulogy of his teacher Evtimii.

Noteworthy, the body of oral literary works played an important role in the history of the Bulgarian literature, especially during the period of Ottoman domination. It included folk songs, legends, stories and tales which gave vent to the Bulgarian people's cravings for love, freedom and liberation.

The Revival period in Bulgaria started as late as the 18th century with the "History of Slavs and Bulgarians", written by the monk Paisii of Hilendar in 1762. With it a new leaf was turned in Bulgarian history and the movement for national self-consciousness and independence. The book was published in 1844 but many copies had bees written in hand and spread all over the country advocating the struggle against both Ottoman oppressors and the Greek clergy. Thus, Paisii of Hilendar started a school of his own, whose most outstnding representative was Sofronii Vrachanski, the author of the first published literary work "Nedelnik" (1806). In it Paisii's ideals were continued along with the idea for the independence of the Bulgarian literature from the imposed Greek dogmas and canons.
The first printed book in Bulgaria was the so called "ABAGAR" from which you can see an image here. Inspired by the Ukranian writer Yurii Venelin's book as well as the ideas of the great Bulgarian teacher Petar Beron, in 1835 Vassil Aprilov founded the first secular school - the high school in Gabrovo, in which the teaching was conducted in Bulgarian language. The author of the first Bulgarian Grammar Book Neophit Rilski taugh at the Gabrovo High School and trained many remarkable teachers there.
The struggle for independent Bulgarian church culminated in the middle of the nineteenth century. The first Bulgarian periodicals also date from that time. Newspapers and magazines were published by Hristo Danov, who sponsored many bright young students and opened a bookshop in Thessaloniki and Plovdiv. The time had come for a powerful historical figure to epitomise the cravings and ideals of a whole people. This was done by Georgi Rakovski (1824-1867) who in 1858 wrote "Traveller in Woods". This work of art was the first one to bear hints of the people's discontent and protest. The harbinger and the singer of the revolutionary movement was Dobri Chintulov (1.) (1822 - 1886) whose songs accompanied the rebels. The first patriotic plays were written by Dobri Voynikov (1833-1878) and some of them were later revised by Vassil Drumev (1841-1904). The first original talent in Bulgarian literature Petko Slaveykov (2.) (1827-1895) was both a publicist and a pedagogue. He was an extremely productive writer in almost all literary genres.
 

1. Dobri Chintulov

2. Petko Slaveikov

3. Liuben Karavelov

4. Hristo Botev

Lyuben Karavelov (3.) (1835-1879) and Hristo Botev (4.) (1848-1876) were both fervent revolutionaries and colossi of Bulgarian poetry and prose. Hristo Botev who glorifies the craving to sacrifice one's life for one's people anticipated his own heroic death in a battle for his mother country. Here you can find some good examples of Hristo Botev's poetry. "The hanging of Vasil Levski" , "Hadji Dimitar" , "To My Mother" .

The indisputable father of Bulgarian literature is Ivan Vazov (5.) (1850-1921). His masterpiece "Under the Yoke" narrates about the life and struggle of the Bulgarian people against the Turkish oppressors. In his later works he described the continuing struggle for independence and freedom as in the collection of epic poems "Epopee of the Forgotten" (1881) which commemorates the heroes who died in the National Liberation movement. Here are some of the poems: "Kocho" , "The Volunteers at Shipka" . The classic of Bulgarian literature tried his hand in all literary genres from historical drama to poetry, prose and journalistic style.
 

5. Ivan Vazov

6. Aleko Konstantinov

7. Elin Pelin

8. Pencho Slaveikov

Aleko Konstantinov (6.) (1863-1897) is one of the favourite Bulgarian writers famous for his travel notes (“To Chicago and back”) and above all for his well-known novel "Bay Ganyo".

Other authors like Stoyan Mihailovski, Todor Vlaykov, Anton Strashimirov and Elin Pelin (7.) wrote about the Bulgarian rural culture and lifestyle in a realistic way.

The Poetry of that period was represented by talented writers as Pencho Slaveykov (8.) (1866-1912) who concerned himself with the struggle for National Liberation, Peyo Yavorov (8.) (1877-1914) whose poetry and drama pictured the oppressed Bulgarian villagers and Dimcho Debelyanov (10.) (1887-1916) who stands out with his sensitivity and lyricism. The new trends in Bulgarian literature were later formed under the influence of Symbolism and west European literature. Geo Milev (11.) was a most brilliant poet and translator of lyric poetry executed in the events in 1925.

9. Peyo Yavorov

10. Dimcho Debelianov

11. Geo Milev

12. Yordan Yovkov

 
The neoromantic Yordan Yovkov (12.) devoted his literary work to the Bulgarian village – he wrote some of the best descriptions, draw the most vivid pictures of Bulgarian nature and province.
Angel Karaliychev's stories dealt with the social problems castigated the vices ot their times and the bourgeoisie.
 

13. Hristo Smirnenski

14. Nikola Vaptsarov

15. Dimitar Dimov

16. Dimitar Talev

The most prominent writers between the two World Wars were the so-called "revolutionary poets". Hristo Smirnenski (13.) (1898-1923) is one of the most outsdtanding representatives of socialist realism. Nikola Y. Vaptsarov (14.) (1909-1942) was a proletarian poet, shot in 1942 for his progressive beliefs and ideals. His "Motor Songs" are a brilliant collection of poems written with talent and sincerity. In 1952 he was posthumously awarded the International Prize for Literature by the International Peace Union.

Dimitar Dimov (15.) who wrote the novel "Tabacco", Dimitar Talev (16.) are only a few of the post-World Wars II generation of writers.
 

17. Elisaveta Bagriana

18. Dora Gabe

19. Yordan Radichkov

20. Nikolai Haitov

Very popular Bulgarian women-authors are Elisaveta Bagriana (17.) (1893 - 1991) and Dora Gabe (18.) (1886 - 1983). Modern authors include Yordan Radichkov (19.) (1929 - 2004), Nikolai Haitov (20.) (1919 - 2002), etc.

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