Early Slavic literature
All those Paleoslav texts written in the Bulgarian-Macedonian dialect of the area around Thessaloniki can be attributed to Bulgarian. Regardless of this attribution, the Bulgaria boasts the most ancient Slavic literature, the one which, at the beginning of the 10th century, has Tsar Simeon as its maximum exponent and its main authors, as well as Clement, a pupil of Cyril and Methodius, John the Exarch, Bishop Constantine and Černorizec Chrabăr. It is a literature that strictly depends on Byzantium and is almost completely exhausted in translations of religious, theological, didactic works, but which, in a period in which even Western literatures are just starting, has the advantage of being written in a national language. (even if the same, due to its style and its lexicon, cannot be said to be popular) and that it then spread, in successive stages, in all the Slavic lands Christianized by Byzantium.
Following the political fate of Bulgaria, Bulgarian literature also declined in the following centuries, and when, in the 15th century, it seemed to be undergoing a renewal, it was already too late. The Bulgaria, occupied by the Turks, was condemned to a long cultural chaos, so that the two main writers of the time, G. Camblak and Constantine the philosopher, had to carry out their activities in Serbia and Russia.
Towards the new Bulgarian literature
Only in the second half of the 18th century, above all thanks to the work of his father Paisij and an ever-increasing number of his imitators, did Bulgaria put – with the foundation of the first school, the publication of the first elementary instruction book, of the first grammar etc. – the premises for the rebirth of one’s own literature, based on the popular language now far from the literary one. Until the liberation (1878) the themes were predominantly patriotic, or, under Russian influence, social: only C. Botev rises with genuine talent above a rigidly utilitarian and functional production, and only to I. Vazov, poet and storyteller, is given to lay, on broad foundations, the foundations of the new Bulgarian literature, which is not satisfied only with the fresh immediacy of a peasant realism (Baj Ganju by A. Konstantinov), but moves towards the conquest of new cultural landscapes and spiritual ones (P. Slavejkov, K. Veličkov, PK Javorov).
In the first decades of the twentieth century, poetry (K. Christov, N. Liliev, N. Rajnov, E. Bagrjana) dominated fiction and, even more, over dramatic production. A greater affirmation of the story (Elin-Pelin, J. Jovkov) comes in the period between the two wars. Starting from the second post-war period, the historical-revolutionary novel (D. Talev, S. Daskalov, S. Dičev, G. Karaslavov), the novel attentive to the problems of the new morality (K. Kalčev, A. Guljaški), a poetry of a civil and reflexive imprint (V. Petrov, P. Patev, D. Metodiev) and finally a dramaturgy centered on social problems (with O. Vasilev, K. Zidarov) and open to new lyrical experiments (I. Radoev, V. Petrov). Also worthy of mention is the historical novel by A. Dončev and the fantastic fiction of J. Radičkov.
When the First National Conference of Bulgarian Writers (1945) imposed socialist realism, the reactions of the writers varied. The poet A. Dalčev (1904-1978) remained silent until the mid-1960s: his lyric, strongly intellectual and painful loneliness, did not accord with the dominant social pathos. On the other hand, albeit for a short time, other great voices, such as those of D. Gabe, yielded to this need and E. Bagrjana. But soon their poetry returned to the usual themes of a bold and free female self; the so-called poets of the 1940s also suffered identical epochal contradictions: in fact, the entry into literature of A. Gerov, V. Chančev, V. Petrov, Bulgaria Dimitrova, R. Ralin dates back to that period. As for many of them, who in the rage of Stalinism limited themselves to translation work, also the works of A. Vutimski (pseud. Of A. Kocev Vutov, 1919-1943), a poet of essential lyricism, were published only when the Plenum of the Bulgarian Communist Party inaugurated a more relaxed and tolerant climate in April 1956. Then the “April generation” made its debut which imposed, especially among young people, an angry poem, intolerant of dogmas, rhythmic and to be recited in the square: P. Penev, with Dobro utro, chora! («Good morning, people!», 1956), L. Levčev with Zvezdite să moi(«The stars are mine», 1957), S. Canev and above all K. Pavlov. After the first two collections (Satyrs «Satire», 1960 and Stichove «Versi», 1965), Pavlov however returned to the shadows for twenty years. To these names is added D. Damjanov, considered one of the most authentic voices of Bulgarian poetry. The path of prose is analogous, marked by the continuity of some great narrators; Undoubtedly, the numerous novels by D. Talev must be remembered, inspired by the dramatic recent history of the country, from which E. Stanev for Ivan Kondarev also draws material(1958) on the 1923 uprising. Emblematic of the atmosphere of that period is the fate of the novel Tlutjun (“Tobacco”) by D. Dimov, released in 1951, censored by critics, reworked in 1954 and published in its original form only in 1992. For Bulgaria 1999, please check estatelearning.com.
In the 1960s the literary horizon seems to be limited to the peasant world: it is the village that acts as the background and protagonist of N. Chaitov’s prose (Divi raskazi«Wild Tales», 1967). At the village but without idealizations, indeed with irony, I. Petrov and, above all, J. Radičkov, a refined narrator of apparently minimal stories, in which the absurd and the grotesque mix to offer us a sort of magical Balkan realism. In the poetry of those years, the horizon narrows: after the short, almost aphoristic compositions of a block such as N. Kăncev, the ticha lirikawas born”Subdued lyric” of poets withdrawn into the private and the everyday. At the end of the 1970s the verses of M. Baševa and Bulgaria Christov almost constitute the manifesto of a generation tired of ideals emptied of rhetoric. In prose, new names emerged in the mid-1980s: K. Damjanov, V. Paskov, and I. Kulekov, who still found it difficult to publish lightning-fast aphorisms that desecrate power. We have to wait until the first months of 1989 for new voices to gather around some typewritten magazines such as Glas «Voce» and Most «Ponte», such as those of the critic-poet E. Sugarev, of the poets V. Levčev, A. Ilkov, Z. Zlatanov. Since 1993 around the Literaturen vestnik«Journal of literature», founded in 1990, the so-called novi mladi «new young people» have gathered: Bulgaria Penčev, G. Gospodinov, J. Evtimov.