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Year XV (2021), issue 26

Literary History Today. Part II

Issue in pdf


Marko Juvan. National and Comparative Literary Histories in Slovenia: Their Histories, Current Status and Prospects (Transl. from English by Andriana Hamas) / 11

Gun‑Britt Kohler, Pavel I. Navumenka. Literary History, Field-Formation and Transnational Spaces of Possibles. Literature in the Space of Belarus in the 1920s (Transl. from English by Andriana Hamas) / 33

Laurent Mignon. Notes on the History of Turkish Literature from the Tanzimat (1839) to the “revolution of the letters” (1928) (Transl. from French by Galabina Zaharieva) / 82

Tamara Svanidzé. Rethinking the Georgian Literary Field in the Second Half of the 19th Century: The Role of European Cultural Transfers (Transl. from French by Galabina Zaharieva) / 107

Mary Vrinat-Nikolov. Re-Thinking the Literary Clocks of the World, Giving Space to Time (The Case of Bulgaria) (Transl. from French by Albena Milanova) / 134

David Damrosch. Conclusion: Rebirth of a Discipline (Transl. from English by Ruzha Muskurova) / 156

Ivan Ivanov. Globalization and the Literary Debate in the Perspective of the Third Millennium / 176

Milena Kirova. How Long do the 90-ies Last? Historical Reflection on the Literature of Nowadays / 187

Mihail Nedelchev. Bulgarian Literary History Concepts / 224 Kalina Lukova. Teodor Trayanov’s “Regina Mortua” in Bulgarian Literary Criticism from the First Three Decades of the 20th Century – Paradigms of the Myth / 242

Maria Ruseva. In the Capital of European Modernity / 260

Martina Nedialkova. Poetic Debuts – Ways and Explorations of Contemporary Bulgarian Poetry / 306

Assen Avramov. Words in Action (An Effort to Integrate Bulgarian Rap Music with Contemporary Bulgarian Literature – Texts, Artists, Messages) / 343



Borislav Petrov. Models of Historical Fiction as Seen in “Visions from Ancient Bulgaria” by Nikolay Raynov and “The final day, the Lord’s day” by Stoyan Zagortchinov / 363



Noemi Stoichkova. The Contemporary Literary History. Between Conceptual Construction and Methodological Heterogeneity, between Rich Erudition and Linguistic Spontaneity, between Traditions and Innovations / 378

Bilyana Borisova. An Exciting Collection of Sharedness / 393

Margarita Staneva. Reflected Identities / 400

Polina Penkova. The Autonomous Author / 405


For the Authors / 409
Journal “The Literature” / 420
Requirements for Publications in the Journal “The Literature” / 424
Ethics of Publication / 427



National and Comparative Literary Histories in Slovenia: Their Histories, Current Status and Prospects


Marko Juvan

Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy

of Sciences and Arts, Ljubljana


The article interprets literary history as a discourse involved in the identity policies of nations. From this point of view, the author presents the relations between national and comparative literary history in Slovenia. The paper outlines the origin and development of both disciplines, especially with regard to their implicit or explicit ideological underpinnings–cultural nationalism and cosmopolitanism. Until the end of the 20th century, national literary history as a “great genre” has interiorized the 19th century thrust of cultural nationalism, which also marked the institutionalization of literary historiography as a university discipline after 1919. Even though comparative literature has countered the apparently autarkic national conceptions of literary and cultural development, it produced another kind of “master narratives” through which it affirmed national identity–by providing records on the participation of Slovene literature in the “general European” currents and developmental stages. In this context, the article draws attention to the problem of belatedness of so‐called small literatures, especially in relation to the world literary system. In conclusion, the article addresses current dilemmas of literary historiography in Slovenia, which are partly specific (reticence to attempts to “reform” the discipline) and partly connected with the changes of literature and literary studies in the era of postmodern and globalization.

Keywords: national literary history, comparative literature, great genre, cultural nationalism, cosmopolitanism, world literary system.


Literary History, Field‐Formation and Transnational Spaces of Possibles. Literature in the Space of Belarus in the 1920s


Gun‑Britt Kohler

Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg

Pavel I. Navumenka

Belarusian State University in Minsk


As a literature that develops in the historically multi-ethnic and multi-confessional transitional space between Slavia latina and Slavia orthodoxa, the literature of Belarus challenges the validity of the “grand narrative” in a special way. At the same time, as a “small” literature, the development of which has taken place over the centuries and until recent times in the spheres of dominance of neighboring “bigger” literatures (Russian and Polish), Belarusian literature seems to reveal some problems of a transnational approach, which perpetuates mechanisms of exclusion and absorption. Based on these considerations, the article first outlines an alternative approach for a “grand narrative” based on the parameters of cultural space, open chronology, and institutional development. Within the framework of this model is then systematically examined the transnational potential of Belarusian literature from an institutional perspective, using literary development in the 1920s as an example. This shows that the transnational potential resulting especially from multilingualism is superimposed institutionally and ideologically by the concept of the “multi-nationality” of proletarian literature, with different languages pre- structuring different “Spaces of possibles.” The realization of transnational spaces of possibles seems to be open above all to Jewish authors, as the case study on Samuil Plaŭnik (Zmitrok Bjadulja) shows.

Keywords: Literary Historiography, Belarusian Literature, Twentieth Century, transnational, field borders, literary institutions, literary groups, Space of possibles, Zmitrok Bjadulja


Notes on the History of Turkish Literature from the Tanzimat (1839) to the „revolution of the letters“ (1928)


Laurent Mignon

Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford


Turkish literary historiography seems to have espoused the definition of “Turkishness”, established at the time of independence in 1923, which regarded as Turkish any person of Muslim faith residing within the borders of the country, regardless of their ethnic origin and mother tongue, and has imposed it retrospectively on the multicultural world of Ottoman Turkish literature. Indeed, non‑Muslim authors writing in Turkish have been excluded from the history of literature. However, as is highlighted in the first part of this article, many exchanges took place between the Turkish Muslim intelligentsia and non‑Muslim Turkish‑speaking intellectuals. Addressing the issue of minor literature in the Ottoman context, the second part presents Armeno‑Turkish, Karamanli Turkish, Judeo‑Turkish and Syro‑Ottoman literatures in dialogue with Ottoman Turkish literary culture. Noting that non‑Muslim writers writing with the Perso‑Arabic alphabet are also largely absent from literary histories, the article addresses in the third part the impact of the “revolution of the letters”, the adoption of the Latin alphabet in 1928. This contributed not only to the occultation of the minor literatures of Ottoman Turkey, but also to that of women’s and popular literatures as well as of the Turkish Ottoman progressive tradition.

Keywords: literary historiography, Ottoman Turkish literature, Armeno‑Turkish literature, Karamanli literature, minor literature, Turkish alphabet reform



Rethinking the Georgian Literary Field in the Second Half of the 19th Century: The Role of European Cultural Transfers


Tamara Svanidzé



The present work questions the logic and the functioning of the flows of importation in the field of literature in the second half of the 19th century, using the concept of cultural transfers, as developed by Michel Espagne and Michael Werner, along with Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of the literary field. These methodological perspectives allow us to relativize the canonical vision of Georgian literature and to illuminate the role played by the importation of European works in the organization and evolution of the internal literary field. My analysis of critical discourse and of paratexts reveals how much literary transfers enabled Georgian literature to renew itself and actively participated in the configuration of the host system, while at the same time contributing to the reinforcement of the positions that structure the Georgian intellectual field of the time. This field has witnessed the arrival of a new conception of literature conveyed by the reformist intelligentsia that relegates traditional practices to the periphery of the system, and and has become divided between literature in conformity with aesthetic norms and current ideologies and the “sub-field.” By clarifying the motivations that have led to the selection and interpretation of European texts and authors, I hope to offer a better comprehensive perspective on the different facets of this field and on the power relations that constitute it.

Keywords: Georgia, civilization, european influences, intellectual life, Georgian translations


Re-Thinking the Literary Clocks of the World, Giving Space to Time (The Case of Bulgaria)


Marie Vrinat-Nikolov



Since postcolonial studies and the renewal of questions about World literature, literary history can no longer be confined to a national perspective. Addressing the literary fact in a transnational and transdisciplinary

approach opens up fertile perspectives. In my research on the history of the Bulgarian literary space, one of the points that seems crucial to me because it has not been sufficiently studied is the question of literary temporality. How can we escape from “Western European centrism” without neglecting the fact that Paris, London, Berlin, New York are the “Literary Greenwich” (Casanova)? How can we put into perspective without compaing them in terms of “advance” or “backwardness” the temporalities of each literary space within the global space? This is what I am trying to sketch by injecting geography (or even geology) into literary history.

Keywords: literary space, literary temporality, literary history, backwardness, accelerated development, Gatchev, Tanzimat, Bulgarian national awakening, Koselleck, time strata


Conclusion: Rebirth of a Discipline


David Damrosch

Ernest Bernbaum Professor and Chair, Department of Comparative Literature

Director, Institute for World Literature

Harvard University


Damrosch underlines that in the beginning of 21st century there was a feeling that comparative literature had lost the sense of definition and mission that it had enjoyed during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. It is described as already “defensive and beleaguered” by the mid-1970s, caught between its Eurocentric aestheticism and the very diferent approaches being developed outside the precincts of comparative literature. This attenuated institutional picture finally began to change in 1997, for an interlocking set of intellectual, institutional, and political reasons. According to the author, opening out the field, new formats of ACLA meetings and the acceleration of globalization has certainly had a major impact on this process. He emphasizes that comparatists face two nearly unsurmountable limits: the paucity of extant early literatures, and the overwhelming abundance of modern writing. Damrosch adds that they need to continue to scrutinize their practices, to reach out more effectively to colleagues beyond their programs and beyond their campuses, and to work together in ways that create synergies among disparate perspectives. The diferent strands of comparison today have long been intertwined, including philologically based close reading, literary theory, colonial/postcolonial studies, and the study of world literature. The author says that they can and should become better integrated than they have yet been, even while their practitioners maintain significant differences in archives, approaches, and perspectives.

Keywords: comparative literature, comparison, globalization, world literature, integrate, disparate perspectives


Globalization and the Literary Debate in the Perspective of the Third Millennium


Ivan Ivanov

Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”


In the dynamics and complexity of the modern world, literature and literary criticism cannot be unambiguously and monolithically positioned in the humanitarian debate. They are directly dependent on the variety of globalization processes that open up prospects for different social and professional groups. This strengthens the dialogical relations between the leading conceptual paradigms such as world and comparative literature, which are situated in very close, synergistic relations and interdisciplinary boundaries, in the paradigm of dynamic transformations and dialogic convergences in the hybrid cultural environment in the new millennium.

Keywords: literature, literary criticism, positioned, humanitarian debate, variety, globalization, the dialogical relations, world literature, comparative literature, boundaries, dynamic, dialogic, convergences, hybrid cultural environment



How Long do the 90-ies Last? 
Historical Reflection on the Literature of Nowadays


Milena Kirova 

Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”


During the last decade of the 20th century Bulgarian literature underwent radical changes, and, moreover, at a fast speed. Literary criticism has already defined it as fin de ciѐcle literature, that way granting it the status of a separate period. Yet, when critics’ point of view is being replaced with the retrospective prism of literary history, things change. This article problematizes the already accepted definition fin de ciѐcle literature. It is its aim to prove that those radical changes which began after 1989, were not ultimate for the end of the 20th century. They continued to bloom on a full scale during the next decade, i.e. the first decade of the 21st century. This requires another, and stricter definition to be accepted: the long 90’s of the 20th century. 

Keywords: Bulgarian literature, the 90’s of the 20th century, postmodernism, écriture feminine


Bulgarian Literary History Concepts


Mihail Nedelchev

New Bulgarian University


Professor Mihail Nedelchev’s study represents a detailed analysis of the Bulgarian literary-historical concepts during the last 150 years. It covers the extended period from the first attempts, when a clear understanding of the literary-historical developments was still nonexistent, through the times of bourgeois positivism and the introduction of communist ideology into literary studies, up to the second decade of the 21st century, when pluralism of approaches, of styles, of the views on the very nature of the literary processes becomes a characteristic feature of Bulgarian literary history. The literary-historical concepts under review are examined in their relation to the underlying characteristics of the appropriate periods in Bulgarian fiction.

This study questions very forcefully the validity of the so-called “great literary-historical narrative”, as established by the canon. Instead, it expresses a belief in the significance and the autonomy of each individual literary-historical story, as well as the understanding that the various stories are superimposed on each other. The study also presents in detail the author’s views on literary history.

Keywords: literary field; literary history; national literature’s history; national saga; “sudden jumps”; teleological concepts; positivist histories; Missal literary magazine; Zlatorog literary magazine; communist ideology; “great” social novel; discourse; school; disruption; parody; reconstructive vision; personalism; literature of events



Teodor Trayanov’s “Regina Mortua” in Bulgarian Literary Criticism from the First Three Decades of the 20th Century – Paradigms of the Myth


Kalina Lukova

Burgas Free University


The chosen researcher’s optics is seeking varying critical attitudes in the construction of the metanarrative “Regina Mortua”. The reception is associated with the canon creating strategies of the various publications and with the significancy of the literary years.

Keywords: literary criticism, metanarrative, paradigm, myth, reception



In the Capital of European Modernity


Maria Ruseva

Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”


The paper focuses on the literary and historical image of Paris, which has a significant role in the context of the modern man’s mentality during the interwar period with its cultural status, technological advances and diverse society. The city is projected through the perspective of the traveller, as it is outlined in the Bulgarian literature from 1920s and 1930s. Paris is established as a metropolis that has no equivalent, with unprecedented urban infrastructure, elegant panoramic image and secular lifestyle.

Keywords: travel, Paris, culture, modernity, Bulgarian interwar literature



Poetic Debuts – Ways and Explorations of Contemporary Bulgarian Poetry


Martina Nedialkova

Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”


This paper presents an attempt at analyzing some of the tendencies in recent examples of Bulgarian poetry, as well as at establishing the existence or lack of continuity between said examples and Bulgarian poetic tradition. One significant aspect of the article is its use of the analytical term “poetic generation”, which has served throughout our literary history to help classify the works of budding poets having a similar way of writing – in both thematic and stylistic terms. Through the comparison of the poetic debuts of fourteen authors published in the period 2018–2019, this paper delineates some of the latest thematic explorations, stylistic and linguistic specificities in Bulgarian poetry, while also asking: Do we see signs of a new poetic generation in recent years or not?

Keywords: poetic generation, poetic tradition, free verse, thematic heterogeneity, introspectiveness, poetic abstractionism, conceptual poetry



Words in Action (An Effort to Integrate Bulgarian Rap Music with Contemporary Bulgarian Literature – Texts, Artists, Messages)


Assen Avramov
National Academy of Theatrical and Film Art “Kr. Sarafov”, Sofia

Where does Bulgarian rap stand in relationship to Bulgarian literature? Where can we look for the roots of this artistic presence? What are the heroes, themes, and messages that Bulgarian rap-artists recreate in their work? The author seeks to answer these questions, through purposeful and accidental juxtapositions between the cultured and the “non”-cultured in Bulgarian poetry in the last thirty years.

Keywords: poetry, music, rap, slam poetry, performative art and artists



Models of Historical Fiction as Seen in “Visions from Ancient Bulgaria” by Nikolay Raynov and “The final day, the Lord’s day” by Stoyan Zagortchinov


Borislav Petrov

Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”


The writer of this paper aims to show the different forms of application of historical fiction through significant literary works, written in the Interwar period. The publication sets its focus on the literary context, the characteristics and structure of “Visions from Ancient Bulgaria” and “The final day, the Lord’s day”. The characters, time, space and language are the units, which model these works of fiction.

Keywords: Interwar period, structure, “Visions from Ancient Bulgaria”, “The final day, the Lord’s day”