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Year. XIV (2020), issue 25

Literary History Today. Part I


Current issue in pdf



Marie Vrinat-Nikolov. Introduction (Originally published in “Slovo” No. 50, “How to Think About Literary History in the Eurasian Space in the 21st Century?”) (Transl. from French by Galabina Zaharieva) / 11

Wali Ahmadi. “The Cradle of Dari“: The Question of “Origins“ in Modern Literary Historiography in Afghanistan (Transl. from English by Andriana Hamas) / 53

Ioana Bot. What’s the Use of a National Poet in the Times of Worldliterature? (Transl. from French by Galabina Zaharieva) / 73

Catherine Gery. The Overlooked of Russian Literary Historiography: for a Female 19th Century (Transl. from French by Galabina Zaharieva) / 95

Elena Georgieva. Postmodernism and Literary Canon: a Fortunate Encounter (Transl. from French by Galabina Zaharieva) / 111

Blagovest Zlatanov. Born/Abroad Contested at Home (Schemes and Transpositions of Bulgarian Literary History in Its Inception Phase) / 129

Nikolay Aretov. Oppressed Voices in Bulgarian Literature / 143

Svetla Cherpokova. The Colours of the Danube – Along the Thalweg of a Literary Theme (Comparative Observations and Imagological Digressions) / 171

Noemi Stoichkova. The Zov Newspaper – the Call to Contemporary Literary History / 196



Preslava Georgieva. “Alas, I am no person but a lunatic...“. Specificities of Problematic Existence in the Poem “Lunatichka“ (“Lunatic“) by Dora Gabe / 242

Kaloyan Hristov. Geometry of Spaces in the Decorative Novel “Dilettante“ by Chavdar Mutafov / 256



Nadezhda Stoyanova. A Rosary. In the Folds of Memory, or on the Happy Existence of Bulgarian Literature / 274

Svetlana Stoicheva. To the Semantics of Iconic Images, or Dealing with the Semiotic Labyrinth (About the Book “The Holy Apostles Peter and Paul“ from the Atoniada Library of the Center for Semiotic and Cultural Studies, by Miroslav Dachev) / 282


For the Authors / 289


Requirements for Publications / 300





(Originally published in “Slovo” No. 50, “How to Think About Literary History in the Eurasian Space in the 21st Century”?)

Marie Vrinat-Nikolov



The text has two main priorities. On the one hand, it analyzes French re­search on literary history in the new millennium and contextualizes it in the world discourse on the subject. On the other hand, it situates the specific texts included in this collection within the broader scientific field already mentioned. Moreover, it shows the way some of the theoretical fundamen­

tals and aporia have proved to be functional in both the former “imperial” literatures and the “minor” ones, and outlines the relations between literary history, global history, and world literature.

Keywords: literary history, contemporary French research, global history, world literature



“The Cradle of Dari”: The Question of “Origins” in Modern Literary Historiography in Afghanistan

Wali Ahmadi

University of California, Berkeley


Persian literatury has historically remained borderless, transcending any single polity or nationstate. In the modern period, however, nationalist re­configurations of this literary tradition tend to ascribe to it a territorially bounded definition. Concurrent with the emergence of Persian as a schol­arly discipline and a national institution in Iran and Afghanistan, Persian literary historiography has become a significant ground for contention and contestation. While Iranian scholars consider Persian literary history to epitomize the splendor of Iranian cultural heritage, Afghan scholars, in contrast, are keen to point out that the territory that constitutes Afghanistan can best claim to represent the “original“ home of Persian literary efflores­cence, the ground where Persian literary production emerged, developed, and came to full fruition. This paper offers a critical perspective on M. H. Zhubal’s Tarikh-i Adabiyat-i Afghanistan, a seminal and influential text of literary historical inquiry and philological investigation.

Keywords: Zhubal, literary history, philology, Dari/Farsi, Afghanistan


The Overlooked of Russian Literary Historiography: for a Female 19th Century

Catherine Gery



The literary histories of the Russian “great century,” the nineteenth century, have a museographic and patrimonial character, which gives full meaning to Roland Barthes’s reflection on literary historiography as a “succession of single men.” However, the exclusion of women from the “ national nar­rative” that is Russian literary historiography is a real anomaly, because it corresponds neither to the reality of writing and publishing practices, nor to that of reading practices. Conceived at the crossroads of historiography (how it develops), literature (the manufacture of classics) and gender stud­ies or women’s studies, this article attempts to understand the mechanisms of “invisibilisation“ (or the “Matilda effect”) whose female writers of “the great Russian century” were victims. We will also look at two “case stud­ies:” that of Anna Bunina, who was the first author to exist professionally in the Russian public literary space in the early nineteenth century, and that of Ekaterina Kniazhnina, the first woman to whom were opened the ways of publishing in Russia in 1759.

Keywords: Russian Literature, Women’s Writing, Nineteenth Century, Matilda Effect, Women’s Literary Heritage, Literary Historiography, Wom­en Studies, Subaltern Studies



Postmodernism and Literary Canon: a Fortunate Encounter

Elena Georgieva

Doctoral student at Inalco/CREE


By addressing the question of literary canon trough its dual constitutive and representative function with regard to national identity, the author ques­tions the conceptual opposition on which the relations between postmod­ernism and canon are founded in Serbian and Bulgarian literatures. In both those cultures postmodern thought and poetics contribute to challenge the traditional understanding of canon and history of literature. Serbian authors are criticised for being more interested in dialogue with foreign literatures and thus turning away from the national specificities which were, till then, usually put forward by literary criticism. The Bulgarian writers, on the con­trary, gladly look back at the texts of the first Bulgarian classics but they do so by rewriting them in a parodic way in order to reveal the literary struc­ture of the national myths. However, despite the apparent incompatibility between postmodernism and literary canon, their encounter during the last decades of the twentieth century played a key role in moving towards a new concept of history of literature which relies more than ever on the princi­ples of polyphony and dialogism.

Keywords: literary canon, history of literature, postmodernism, polyphony, dialogism, Serbian and Bulgarian literature



Born Abroad/Contested at Home (Schemes and Transpositions of Bulgarian Literary History in Its Inception Phase)

Blagovest Zlatanov

Institute of Slavic Studies, Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg, Germany                                          


Bulgarian Literary History as a conceptual framework as well as a disciplinary discourse is – not only in its previous formations but also in its present form – a product of very long and turbulent dis­cussions in Slavic Studies conducted in the first three quarters of the 19th c. outside the ethnic and language borders of the subdued Bul­garia. Bulgarian intellectuals imported this extraneous conceptual model of Bulgarian literary history in Bulgaria soon after its libera­tion from Turkish rule in 1878. After a period of heated objections to the model the Bulgarian academic and public institutions adopted it as the only relevant prism for considering the Bulgarian literary past. Ключови думи: Bulgarian literary history, models for literary history, international Slavic studies, conceptual import


Oppressed Voices in Bulgarian Literature

Nikolay Aretov

Institute for Literature, BAS


The paper is focused on some non-institutionalized restrictions on the free­dom of speech. Some authors often restrain to articulate their opinion be­cause they know that the public will not welcome it. In other cases, the media reject such texts, or after publishing it, the reaction is harsh. One possible approach towards this topic can start from the question posed by Gayatri Spivak and widely commented in the field of post-colonial crit­icism: “Can the subaltern speak?” We could also ask ourselves who are the subalterns in Bulgarian culture. This paper argues that paradoxically there were unrepresented and oppressed voices among the groups within the high levels of social hierarchy.

Keywords: oppressed voices; censorship; rejected texts; social and cultural hierarchy



The Colours of the Danube – Along the Thalweg of a Literary Theme

(Comparative Observations and Imagological Digressions)

Svetla Cherpokova

Plovdiv University “Paisii Hilendsrski”


This text analyses two variations on the Danube theme, associated with the colouring of the river: the calm, white Danube and the murky/ black Danube. The focus is on their folk-literary expressions at the time of the Bulgarian Revival period, including the couple of decades that followed it. I test the hypothesis that at different junctures of our culture usage becomes a tool to balance the sheet, to signal crises, or to remind of indigenous val­ues. The function of colour is reminiscent of the river thalweg, it defines borders and connects the lowest points of the stream.

Keywords: Comparative literature, Thematology, Danube, Thalweg, Bul­garian Revival



The Zov Newspaper – the Call to Contemporary Literary History

Noemi Stoichkova

Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”


The contemporary fundamental positions on literary history are a prism towards the reading of a completely forgotten newspaper – Zov („Зов“), a weekly for art, which was published for less than a month in 1921. How­ever, the short-lived periodical was a platform for some of the most sig­nificant authors of the 1920s and 1930s in Bulgaria – these are critics and poets who belonged mainly to the group around the literary journal Vezni („Везни“) but also to communities that debated with it. Immediately af­ter the First World War, the contributors of Zov took an active part in the intensive and controversial critical dialogues about the state and the paths of contemporary Bulgarian literature, they worked to create a model of a literary newspaper in Bulgaria and demonstrated how marginality worked for a vigorous cultural process. In this study unknown to the contempo­rary philological public works are analysed and a few unknown articles by Nikolay Raynov, Vasil Pundev, Konstantin Konstantinov and Geo Milev are republished for the first time

Keywords: The Zov newspaper, periodical for art, unknown, representative figures, literary-critical debates, a vigorous cultural process





“Alas, I am no person but a lunatic...”. Specificities of Problematic Existence in the Poem “Lunatichka” (“Lunatic”) by Dora Gabe

Preslava Georgieva

St. Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia


This text explores the psychological and physical specificities that, when put together, make up the main character of the poem “Lunatichka” (“Lu­natic”) by Dora Gabe. It also attempts to place Gabe’s work in Bulgari­an interwar literature. The poem itself paints a clear picture of a crisis in human existence and social marginalisation, which allows it to be placed within the framework of one of the strands in the development of Bulgarian literature in the 1930s. The main emphasis in this text, however, is laid on an attempt to disentangle the unique melding of mind, soul and body that the author calls “lunatichka“. This last argument suggests that, with her poem, Gabe opens a new avenue for the development of Bulgarian interwar literature. A key facet of this avenue is the mystical experience endowing the soul with greater sensitivity to human suffering and reflecting the ex­istential crisis typical of the period in both its individual and its collective dimension.

Keywords: lunatic, Dora Gabe, Bulgarian women’s literature of the Inter­war Period, social preoccupation, existential crisis



Geometry of Spaces in the Decorative Novel “Dilettante“ by Chavdar Mutafov

Калоян Христов

СУ „Св. Климент Охридски“

Kaloyan Hristov

Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”


The decorative novel transports into the art time and space through styli­zation and the painting one – through liberty. Beyond all questions, in the decorative novel there’s something much more extraordinary in the style and the way the art picture is built. “Dilettante“ presents two planes – one on which the objects surrounding the Dilettante and his world lie, and one which is a projection of his own expectations, his inner world, formation of senses and concepts of the surrounding reality. Geometry of cone is an interesting element for Mutafov’s prose, burdened with multiple mean­ings. Maybe if he didn’t keep to decorativeness and stylization, Mutafov would add a mountain peak. But instead of this, he turned the liberty of a mountain into bipolar stylized cone – wide above and tight below. Spaces in “Dilettante“ cross in different points, but the most distinct and private space described is the room of the Dilettante. He lives with cubes, pyra­mids, prisms, which presence is motionless. But Mutafov expresses their mobility through the feeling they provoke in the Dilettante. The Dilettante, as the centre he seeks, turns into imaginary and absent beings. Would the world and the Dilettante fit the formula of plane ax+by+cz+d=0 or the world’s nature is different?

Keywords: geometry, space, chavdar, mutafov, literature, Bulgarian, novel