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Albena Bakratcheva


In the process of spiritual emancipation which called forth the political change of 1989, the writings of the American transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau acquired a peculiar, hardly ever expected significance in Bulgaria. His social ideas and the spiritual horizons of his philosophy of life closely corresponded to the painful need of the individual in a so-called "socialist country" for outward and inward emancipation: a need most torturous for the intellectuals. So, if "there is hardly an ism of our times that has not attempted to adopt Thoreau,"1 then it was the "anti-ism" to Bulgarian totalitarianism that provided most of the preconditions for Thoreau's reception in Bulgaria in the last communist decades and especially during our "velvet revolution" and immediately afterwards.

The long lasting compulsory spiritual fasting during the years of communism needed a counterbalance mainly in terms of stressing the role and capabilities of the individual. In his inability to face and cope with the intolerable reality every spiritually elevated person found the only way to salvation to be the rediscovery of inward, spiritual spaces; Travelling Towards Oneself2, the title of an outstanding Bulgarian novel of the sixties, acquired a symbolic significance for the decades to come. With circumstances like these Thoreau could duly satisfy the urge for spiritual survival. Things being much more complicated, indeed, the fact remains that Civil Disobedience did slip into the publication flow of 1981 and appeared to be one of the first public announcements of the approaching change. Walden, however, never got among these translations until after the political change; with no Bulgarian translation available under totalitarianism, Thoreau's masterpiece acquired even the additional charm of a self-discovered book about self emancipation. Post-totalitarianism was to reveal later on the depths of this uniquely bred Thoreauvian renaissance. No one at the time was aware, however, that there were earlier responses in our culture to Thoreau's spirituality and stylistic mastery.

1. Walden and Bulgaria in the Twenties

Henry David Thoreau's name appeared for the first time in Bulgaria in the early twenties, when the first translation of Walden was published. Since there is no information whatsoever about either the critical or the literary reception of the book, this first Bulgarian issue of Walden needs to be seen in the context of the cultural and literary background that possibly evoked it.

The early twenties were still the time when Bulgarian literature was solving problems such as overcoming the already outworn objective (descriptive) realism and was mostly preoccupied with European literary modernism. The realistic trend having always been strongest in Bulgarian literature, the line of attempts in the first decades of the century to overcome it and keep pace with the ongoing processes in other European literatures, saw successive periods of aestheticism, symbolism, and expressionism. The literary change was considered primarily as a constant awareness on behalf of both writer and reader of the "literariness" of the work of literature, of its nature as a "thing made." Predominant at the time of Bulgaria's national liberation (1878), the notion of the writer as primarily a patriot and of literature as hardly more than avocation gradually developed and by the turn of the century was already changed into "the notion of the writer-patriot instead of that of the patriot-writer."3 The status of authorship was changed; writing became a professional occupation. Together with the different perspective towards artifacts went a newly acquired self-consciousness on the part of the intellectual and of the literary endowed individual in particular. This transformation, of course, did not generally affect cultural life in Bulgaria around the turn of the century, but it was characteristic of the ways the Bulgarian intelligentsia was formed and how its attitude of "estrangement" on the basis of personal abilities was established.

The most important event in this respect was the foundation in 1898 of Misal [Thought] ы a magazine for literature and philosophy, which existed for almost fifteen years and "intellectualized" the whole cultural life in Bulgaria during this period. Its founder, Dr. Krustyu Krustev, had studied philosophy, aesthetics and literature in Germany and was an inveterate Kantian; its leading figure, the poet Pencho Slaveykov, had received the same education in Germany and was not alien to Nietzsche's theory of the individual superpowers, popular then in Western Europe. As a Kantian, Dr. Krustev assumed that what is called nature is the perceptible unification of essence and appearance, and hence art for him was a "contemplative delight driven out of symbols."4 For Pencho Slaveykov the antinomy "man and superman," well discussed then among many of his West European contemporaries, took on the form of an opposition between "poet and crowd,"5 thus leading him to - and introducing to the Bulgarian literati - an elitist concept of the creative personality. Although they had their readers, both men believed their reading audience was yet to come and never failed to point out that their writings were aimed at the future. Pencho Slaveykov made the first Bulgarian translation of Nietzsche's Also sprach Zarathustra, which was published only a little earlier than Thoreau's Walden.

This purely intellectual trend, known as Bulgarian aestheticism, considerably influenced Bulgarian literature during the first fifteen years of the century. This is particularly true of changes in attitude towards literary phenomena and towards personal capacities, the last perceived mainly as creative or poetic ones. Having a lot to do with the German philosophic and aesthetic tradition, this transformation might be thought of as a possibly helpful precondition for an aspect of Thoreau's reception in Bulgaria at the time, as suggested by the available evidence of Walden's reception in Germany during the same period. Thoreau was then considered in Germany Kantian, "whose subjective impressions were translated into natural contexts;"6 his stylistic ability was praised as highly as the French one and his capacity to discern the essence of nature was labeled "German."7 It is not necessary for the Bulgarian literati from Misal to have known anything about either the interpretations of Thoreau in Germany at that time, or even about the 1897 German translation of Walden; they simply shared the background for similar interpretations. And moreover, they prepared a possible reception of Thoreau in Bulgaria that would have praised the poetic vision as a main characteristic of the creative personality in contrast to the materialistic aims of "the crowd."

Although considerable, the German intellectual impact in Bulgaria at the end of the nineteenth and during the first two decades of the twentieth century was much more partial than was the Russian one. Plenty of historical reasons, including the very fact of Bulgaria's national liberation, made the Russian influence in Bulgaria at that time powerful and many-sided.

Following an early nineteenth-century tradition, many Bulgarians received their high school and university education in Moscow, St. Petersburg or Odessa and directly brought into the country strong Russian cultural and ideological influences. The closeness of the two languages, Bulgarian and Russian, was another decisive factor for the intensity of the versatile Russian significance to Bulgaria. For a long time, Russian literature became the most influential one in Bulgaria not only culturally, but also in terms of ideology and even politics. It was through the Russian language that a considerable part of Western European literature did actually come to Bulgaria, this process beginning in the years of the so-called Bulgarian Renaissance (the end of the eighteenth century - 1878) and continuing sporadically until as late as the 1930s. More than welcome in the very beginning, however, this practice of translating Russian translations into Bulgarian, naturally leading to results on hardly more than an informative level, was already thoroughly undesirable at the turn of the century; aestheticians, symbolists and expressionists, all mainly German trained, together with the Russian trained Bulgarian intelligentsia, considered it part of their vocation to oppose it.

The Russian cultural significance to Bulgaria was not only preserved as an already proven traditional necessity but was even strengthened and elevated in the period considered. In addition to many historical reasons, this was because the closeness of the languages naturally served as a mediator for an unimpeded acquaintance on the part of the Bulgarian readers with the achievements of Russian literature and social-philosophical thought, as well as with the then existing Russian translations from other languages. It was also the conscious policy of some Bulgarian literary magazines and publishing houses of the time to provide information and comments on topics of Russian literature and philosophy, including translations into Russian.

The reason for this brief review of some of the aspects of the Russian influence in Bulgaria before and in the early twenties is to outline the main orientation of Bulgaria's cultural life at the time and to point out at least three preconditions tightly connected with it for the appearance of Walden in Bulgarian: namely, the attitude towards nature, the then existing possibility of incorporating Russian translations and original works as part of Bulgaria's intellectual realities and Bulgarian Tolstoyism.

The first one, though stemming from an age-old Bulgarian folklore tradition, had a lot to do with the closeness of the Russian literary tradition. Turgenev, Tolstoy, Chekhov, not to mention Pushkin or Lermontov, were then widely known in Bulgaria. Their intensive feeling for nature thoroughly corresponded to the devotion and admiration the Bulgarians cherished for their native landscape, as Ivan Vazov (1850-1925) used to express it throughout his life in beautiful narratives and poems (The Great Rila Desert, In the Land of Fairies, etc.). For Vazov nature was never simply a picturesque surrounding; it was an altar, pure and sacred, where the spirit achieved its most elevated moments. Sharing a lot of the Russian inclination for highly poeticized and detailed nature descriptions, Vazov made closeness to nature his life-style: he was notorious for his "walks" to the very depths of the wilderness Bulgaria's landscape provided, as well as for his conviction, that one should know one's native land in order to be able to love it. For Vazov the relationship between man and nature, or, to put it more precisely, the relationship between man and nature in one's own native land, was primarily a spiritual one and in itself a whole universe. This combination of a true patriotic feeling (Bulgaria had just become an independent country), poetic talent, high spirituality strongly influenced by Russian literature, and acute sensitivity for detail made Ivan Vazov the first great Bulgarian worshipper of nature - in poetry as well as in life.

A decisive step in the very same direction was made by another admirer of the great Russian nature-lovers. Aleko Konstantinov (1861-1898) was not simply a nature devotee; his travel notes marked the line beyond which travelling becomes a poetic experience. Founder of the Bulgarian Tourist Union (which is still named after him), Aleko Konstantinov considered travelling a mode of life and a mode of writing at the same time; travelling was his true vocation. Walking was for him a sacred activity, rather than merely an enjoyable cognitive one. What he left were not simply descriptions of static pictures of nature, but lively narrations of his personal biography in the midst of nature; he possessed the perceptive intensity and freshness that are characteristic only to new-born nations. A real cosmopolitan, Aleko Konstantinov was also the first Bulgarian writer to visit America (1893) and to express his admiration for Niagara Falls in a book that was from the moment of its publication considered a masterpiece (To Chicago and on the Way Back). His stay in America being too short and, moreover, the foreign language he used being French, he was not able to get acquainted with what would have been fairly close to his mentality and inward disposition - namely, the writings of the American transcendentalists.

It is possible, however, that both Aleko Konstantinov and Ivan Vazov, as well as many Bulgarian intellectuals of the time, knew about Thoreau through Russian: Novoe Vremya [New Time] was then widely read in Bulgaria and it was exactly this leading Russian daily that published in 1887 the first installment of Walden;8 there were also the two later Russian translations of 1900 and 1910, as well as the selection of Thoreau's thoughts, published in 1903 as Philosophy of Natural Life.9 There is no need for speculations in this direction; the facts as they are suggest only that Thoreau's book might have been known to some intellectuals in Bulgaria at the time. But even if it wasn't, the biggest part of Bulgaria's intelligentsia, being closely connected with the Russian one while pursuing its own interests and goals, shared the disposition that caused Chekhov's or Tolstoy's admiration for Thoreau10 and in a way prepared the ground for the appearance of Walden in Bulgarian in the twenties.

Another opportunity to trace the possibility for Thoreau's name to have reached Bulgaria through the mediation of Russian sources is provided by the strong Tolstoyist movement around the turn of the century. After Tolstoy underwent his conversion in the early 1880's and turned towards the problems of society and religion, his notions, as supported by his already established authority, gained popularity among certain circles of Bulgarian intellectuals, preoccupied with the idea of healing society from the discontent and disappointment that followed the idealistic exaltation of the years of Bulgaria's liberation.11 Tolstoy's writings on topics of social reformation and religion were widely read in the original or in Bulgarian translations. V. Chertkov's periodical Svobodnoe Slovo [Free Word], published with Tolstoy's approval, did also have its Bulgarian readers; and it was in its very first issue of 1898 that - at Tolstoy's suggestion - the first Russian translation of Thoreau's Civil Disobedience appeared.12 Since "it is true that Tolstoy knew Thoreau's ideas fairly well and that he used them to illustrate and emphasize his own ideas,"13 it might be assumed that Tolstoy's popularity among Bulgarian intellectuals provided at least the background for another aspect of Thoreau's future reception in Bulgaria.

The considerable Russian influence on the then ongoing processes in Bulgarian cultural and intellectual life presupposes a certain propitious disposition on behalf of the Bulgarian intellectuals of the time for Walden's forthcoming publishing in the twenties; it also suggests a certain amount of knowledge of Thoreau reaching Bulgaria around the turn of the century.

Together with the Russian and the German influences that were intermingled with some inherent characteristics of Bulgaria's cultural and literary life, thus - together with the rest - providing certain preconditions for Thoreau's appearance in Bulgarian, there was another factor that most definitely - and directly - led to the publication of Walden. The doctrine of Peter Deunov (1864-1944), called "Deunovism" after him, had hundreds of followers from all strata of Bulgarian society. Deunov was a type of Eastern priest-philosopher and had nothing to do with the traditional orthodox preachers Bulgaria knew. He preached for the supreme task of man on earth to be the intimate interrelation with the original cause of existence, with the divine, with infinity. "The new cosmic view of life," based on "new sensuousness, new paradigm, new consciousness"14 was for Deunov the only way of attaining perfection. This was in itself a religious doctrine that constantly tended to turn into mysticism and thoroughly repudiated the church; it insisted on its "newness" in every respect and proclaimed a life style in the open air, amidst the elements. Deunov's numerous lectures delivered before thousands of people and frequently published during the first decades of the century resulted in the foundation of the so-called Deunovist colonies. These were people who lived in groups of hundreds outside society and as simply as possible: they had no churches to pray in; instead, the sacred ritual of their life became the daily meeting of the sunrise.

Peter Deunov was persona non grata throughout the time of the communist regime and not a word about him was officially allowed to be mentioned, although Deunov had been for years a world-wide known spiritual leader with followers everywhere (Einstein among them). It was only after the political change in 1989 that book after book by and about Deunov started appearing in Bulgaria. The important fact came out that Deunov studied medicine in Boston in the last years of the nineteenth century. Given the scope of his interests and the main trends of his doctrine, as well as the experiment of simple collective living undertaken in the Deunovist colonies, it is not impossible to presume that Deunov could have known the writings of "the man of Concord." Like other Thoreau adherents,15 Deunov might have ignored the individualism, the solitary side of the Walden enterprise, and transformed it into a collective striving towards spiritual perfection. Following what he considered to be his vocation, namely that of a spiritual father, Deunov could possibly have had in mind something of the Emersonian ideal of the poet-priest. But even if American transcendentalism and Thoreau in particular were outside his knowledge, Deunov was familiar with the same sources in Eastern philosophy and literature and obviously shared the notion of visibility beyond the visible; moreover, preaching for a "new sensitivity," like a true Thoreauvian, he insisted on keeping all the senses and not just the eyes alert in order to perceive thoroughly.

Speculations should be left aside either with respect to Deunov's knowledge of Thoreau or regarding Deunov as having in his own way approached some of the ideas of American transcendentalism; the point here is to draw attention to the Deunovist doctrine, popular as it was in Bulgaria in the first decades of the century, as another highly possible precondition for the appearance of Walden in Bulgarian.

The first Bulgarian publication of Walden in the twenties was as a translation more of a bibliographical significance; as a cultural phenomenon, however, it may be considered a litmus, test for some of the main aspects of the cultural situation in Bulgaria at the time - the same ones, in fact, that led to its appearance. A period of intensive spiritual uplift brought Walden for the first time to the Bulgarian readers and thus afforded the model which was to bring it back to them more than six decades later.

2. Thoreau and the Process of Spiritual Democratization in Bulgaria

A broader context would allow the early Bulgarian translation of Walden to be seen as a first step towards introducing Thoreau to Bulgaria - a first step which was matched in 1981 with the translation of Civil Disobedience. Thoreau's famous essay, though translated in an abridged form because of the censorship, gave then its title to a miscellany of American essays. The very appearance of a volume entitled Civil Disobedience was already a symbolic act: it contained in itself the spiritual ripeness for disobedient behavior and was also the first public announcement of the real social-spiritual disposition of the Bulgarian intellectuals at the time - and this through the name and perhaps the most socially influential idea of Henry David Thoreau. Thus it was not unexpected at all that later, in 1989, the main slogan of the Bulgarian "velvet revolution" was "civil disobedience" and that the essay itself was published again by a radical-democratic weekly at one of the most critical moments of the large-scale social resistance.16

There were also other sources through which Thoreau's name reached the Bulgarian readers, these being the Russian editions of Walden from 1962 and 1986, as well as - for a handful of them only - the original text, of course. The closeness of the two languages, Bulgarian and Russian, served once again as a mediator and made it possible for Walden to be much read and often cited by the Bulgarian literati. As was customary for that type of Russian (and Bulgarian) publication of the time, the 1962 and 1986 editions contained introductions both ideologically true to the regime and full of real admiration for the artistic qualities of the book. Such was the usual practice of introducing any actually valuable work of literature to the "socialist" readers: by providing it with a kind of a "passport" that guaranteed primarily its "progressive" social significance and sometimes, its aesthetic importance, thus legalizing the appearance of the translation. The immediate result of this communist publishing practice was that many of the readers developed the capability to "read between the lines," i.e. to take for granted that what counted most was left unsaid.

Thus, it was Walden's stress on individuality and the individual capabilities that mostly matched the spiritual needs in Bulgaria during the totalitarian period - the period when individuality counted for nothing, and actually denoted only what had to be suppressed. The significance of individuality was then felt and expressed by the Bulgarian intellectuals in the only possible way that was left - namely, in terms of striving for spiritual survival. For this reason above all Walden appeared to be for the inwardly "disobedient" Bulgarian readers an unexplored and, at the same time, artistic way of self-revelation and self-expression.

Exaggerations should be put aside about Walden affording a high spiritual horizon to Bulgaria or about the translation of Civil Disobedience presaging Bulgaria's "velvet revolution." What should be accented, though, is that both Thoreau's works were known in Bulgaria quite in time for them to have the most thorough reception and, hence, be more influential. If, according to the theory of literary reception,17 the reader finds in the text the answer to the question he himself has asked, then the time since 1980 was the best for the questions asked in Bulgaria to find most satisfying answers in Thoreau's works. It was this very spiritual disposition that in the early nineties led to a new Bulgarian translation of Walden and Civil Disobedience. The questions which arose were to provoke their needed - and already partly known - Thoreauvian answers in their own idiom.

The point here is that the process of spiritual democratization in Bulgaria preceded and called forth the political one, and that in this very process there was a lot to go along with Thoreau's writings and a lot that sought confirmation and inspiration in them.

Political convictions, evolving from moral attitudes, were not directly expressible under the totalitarian dictatorship. Hence a way to express oneself was through a notional, kind of "transcendental" poetry and prose (Blaga Dimitrova, Alexander Gerov, Dimitar Korudzhiev, Konstantin Pavlov, Boris Hristov) or the so-called "objective poetry" which was more or less the reverse side of it (Alexander Gerov, Valeri Petrov, Radoy Ralin, earlier Athanas Dalchev). Literature was considered by these authors to be the only means of achieving what was not achievable in reality. "I thought I lived in order to accomplish in books, in an indirect poetic way some part of the freedom I would never see, I would never experience," wrote Dimitar Korudzhiev.18 Since communist reality seemed frozen and unchangeable, dissatisfaction with it took the form of a poetically transformed activity. "Something must happen / in our verses at least,"19 Boris Hristov proclaimed, thus pointing out the role poetry was undertaking when actual life looked like a vacuum, designed specially for the annihilation of any kind of human vividness whatsoever. The communist regime seemed to have provided an eternity - a dead eternity that was draining out lives, dreams, talents. "A collective sleep on the parade square," as Konstantin Pavlov put it, adding, to enrich the image, "Even dreaming is needless. / Someone else will dream for me."20

If creativity and morals were to be preserved by keeping alert about things which the overspreading grayness of life was tending to obscure, then poetry was providing the only way. So, in their artistic "travelings towards themselves" not a few Bulgarian poets and writers found it possible to spiritually survive only by means of achieving through literature visibilities generally not seen. Thus the very nature of literature itself was loaded with the additional significance of spiritual salvation. What was different in this otherwise traditional concept of literature was the desperation with which it was grasped as a solution to living under the communist regime. The same was true for literary translation (Valeri Petrov, Krustan Dyankov, Nikolay Kunchev), as it was considered to be a morally motivated, dignified art-life choice to avoid painful realities.

A brief allusion to American transcendentalism recognizing "no distinction between art and life"21 suggests a way to express the main characteristic of this trend in our literature at the time - namely, that Life was more or less justified in terms of Art. The reverse was also true - Art was justified in terms of Life too. Moreover, some of the above mentioned authors even adopted a role very similar to Emerson's formula of the Poet-Priest (Alexander Gerov, Dimitar Korudzhiev, Radoy Ralin, etc.). Their artistic "sermons" were very much needed when no prospects for change and freedom were seen. The equation between art and morals proclaimed in them went so far that even the compulsory silence of poets like Konstantin Pavlov or Boris Hristov began to look like a kind of a silent preaching.

Perceived as a capacity to see beyond the visible and to poetically reveal the generally not-seen, the poetic vision was for certain Bulgarian writers of the time the way "to transcend" themselves and thus to spiritually survive under late communism. Thus the very transcendentality of the poetic vision itself became overstressed as both a counter-official ideology and a counter-official creativity.

Any allusion to American literary transcendentalism can only be brief here, but it is enough to clarify the readiness on the part of the most outstanding Bulgarian literati to embrace like ideas as to both a way of living and a concept of art. The longing for a worthwhile living had many faces, indeed. But it usually came close to the Thoreauvian idea of building oneself up to the height of one's own conceptions, thus containing in itself the preparation for grasping the idea itself. This kind of art-life experience was actually a form of peaceful, individuality-preserving disobedience to the totalitarian regime.

It was exactly this atmosphere among the Bulgarian intellectuals that made an eminent dissident philosopher announce in 1988 that "the great time of the intelligentsia"22 had come. The very nature of the intellectual activity itself - creativity and the need for freedom and democracy inherent in it - was already seen as destined to become the leading force towards change. The hour had struck for the essential characteristics of intellectual (spiritual) activity to attain social significance and thus end the totalitarian reality. Moreover, this would be done without physical force.

The gradual democratic achievements in the whole of Eastern Europe during the last communist decades were primarily provoked and inspired by the intelligentsia. Common - though in different degrees - to all the countries in the ex-communist bloc, including Bulgaria, these democratic achievements preconditioned the "velvet revolutions" of 1989 by making the effectiveness of nonviolent resistance - of civil disobedience - clear and convincing.

The political coup in Bulgaria was a nonviolent one, and so too were the political events that followed November 10, 1989. After the decades of obedient behavior it was the idea of civil disobedience that led the people to tremendous "blue" (as opposed to the communist "red") demonstrations in their wish for truth, for true Life. It was this idea that led the university students in the summer of 1990 to their strike, which was called in a newspaper of the time "a symbol of the irreconcilability with communism [...] the beginning of our velvet revolution."23 This collective act of civil disobedience worked because it fulfilled the main requirement that justifies such conduct: namely, that it "must always be based on moral grounds."24 The students were broadly supported by university teachers, parents, writers, by most of the intellectuals. What they started was immediately afterwards continued in the so-called "towns of the truth," where actors, writers, musicians, painters, scholars, and university teachers raised the slogan of "Civil Disobedience." All these political events were led by intellectuals. Their "great time" had really come and - quite romantically tinted, as is understandable - it appeared to be the great time of Bulgaria's civil disobedience.

Not surprisingly, Thoreau's Civil Disobedience was published by the weekly Vek 21 in this very month, July 1990: this was exactly the time when "the man of Concord" was politically - and morally - mostly "concordant" with the social and the spiritual disposition of a reviving Bulgaria.

Thoreau's name was not the only one that was kept in mind in those days, of course, the great examples of Gandhi and Martin Luther King being widely known in Bulgaria. But it was Thoreau's idea, in fact, that gave the shape - and the name - to the peaceful resistance that set Bulgaria on the road towards democratization. The spiritual disposition shared by the outstanding part of Bulgaria's intellectuals proved itself to be, in many of its political, social, and even ecological nuances, good soil for Thoreau's art-life principles.

Thoreau's political reputation in the United States dates from the 1960s when the Americans came "to see themselves in a political context": "The single most famous fact of Thoreau's life had once been perceived as his going off to Walden Pond in order to drive life into a corner; in the sixties that was superseded by Thoreau's night spent in jail in order to drive the government into a corner."25 Although much later, Thoreau's political reputation in Bulgaria followed the same direction. During the totalitarian decades the appreciation of Walden was always politically tinted. Walden's "metaphoric solution to the problems of the marketplace,"26 i.e. to the problems of suppressing the human side of life by the capitalist market, was usually taken in Bulgaria to be a metaphoric solution to the problems of spiritual survival in suppressive communist realities. Thoreau's equation between literature and life thoroughly suited those of the Bulgarian literati to whom the regime had left no actual choice. Determined as it was by "personal and historical disappointment,"27 Walden provided them with a metaphorical way of driving life under totalitarianism into a corner. And when the time came for the totalitarian government to be driven into a corner and the Bulgarians came to see themselves in the Eastern European context, Civil Disobedience was called forth to give the name of the opening of the democratic process in Bulgaria.

Given such preconditions, the appearance of a new Bulgarian translation28 of Walden and Civil Disobedience was inevitable. And this publication is achieving even greater significance in the rather complicated, sometimes even misleading situation in present-day Bulgaria, when support is needed by every elevated spirit. Thoreau is sure to provide it.

Henry David Thoreau's writings have always been open to numerous interpretations. The ones Walden and Civil Disobedience have provoked in Bulgaria have always been related to certain periods of spiritual emancipation. Moreover, the appearances of Thoreau in Bulgarian both in the 1920s and in the late 80s and early 90s were actually called forth by these periods of spiritual emancipation and thus, regardless of all differences in political and cultural circumstances, gained a significance that prevented them from remaining mere cultural coincidences.




1. Walter Harding, A Thoreau Handbook, New York: New York University Press, 1959, 132. [back]

2. Blaga Dimitrova, Travelling Towards Oneself [Bulg.], Sofia: Bulgarski Pisatel Publishing House, 1961. [back]

3. Milena Tzaneva, Poet and Society [Bulg.], Sofia: Bulgarski Pisatel Publishing House, 1980, 22. [back]

4. Krustyu Krustev, Etudes and Criticism [Bulg.], Plovdiv, 1894, 73. [back]

5. Pencho Slaveykov, Selected works in two volumes, Vol. 2 - Essays [Bulg.], Sofia: Bulgarski Pisatel Publishing House, 1958, 54. [back]

6. Eugene F. Timpe, "Thoreau's Critical Reception in Germany", Thoreau Abroad. Twelve Bibliographical Essays, ed. Eugene F. Timpe, Hamden, Connecticut: The Shoe String Press, 1971, 79. [back]

7. Ibid., 78. [back]

8. Jerzy R. Krzyzanowski, "Thoreau in Russia", Thoreau Abroad. Twelve Bibliographical Essays, ed. Eugene F. Timpe, Hamden, Connecticut: The Shoe String Press, 1971, 133. [back]

9. Ibid., 136. [back]

10. Ibid., 134-138. [back]

11. Milena Tzaneva, Ivan Vazov [Bulg.], Sofia: Bulgarski Pisatel Publishing House, 1980, 80. [back]

12. Jerzy R. Krzyzanowski, Op. cit., 135. [back]

13. Ibid., 136. [back]

14. Peter Deunov, Strength and Life [Bulg.], Sofia, 1990, 156. [back]

15. Seymour L. Flaxman, "Thoreau and Van Eeden", Thoreau Abroad. Twelve Bibliographical Essays, ed. Eugene F. Timpe, Hamden, Connecticut: The Shoe String Press, 1971, 57-72. [back]

16. Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience" [Bulg. trns.], Vek 21, Sofia, 18.7, 1990: 4-5. [back]

17. Wolfgang Iser, The Implied Reader, London, 1980, 23. [back]

18. Dimitar Korudzhiev, "Freedom Is Not A Gift", Dimitar Korudzhiev, Set Free the Sunlight [Bulg.], Sofia: Zlatorog, 1991, 15. [back]

19. Boris Hristov, Night Trumpet [Bulg.], Sofia: Bulgarski Pisatel Publishing House, 1977. [back]

20. Konstantin Pavlov, Old Things [Bulg.], Sofia: Bulgarski Pisatel Publishing House, 1983. [back]

21. Lawrence Buell, Literary Transcendentalism. Style and Vision in the American Renaissance, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1973, 66. [back]

22. Zhelyu Zhelev, "The Great Time of the Intelligentsia" [Bulg.], Narodna Kultura, Sofia, 22.7, 1988: 3. [back]

23. Alexander Yordanov, "The Beginning of the Bulgarian Tender Revolution" [Bulg.], Vek 21, Sofia, 17.7, 1992: 1. [back]

24. Walter Harding, Civilized Disobedience, Geneseo, NY: State University College of Arts and Sciences, 1968. [back]

25. Michael Meyer, Several More Lives to Live. Thoreau's Political Reputation in America, Westport, Connecticut - London, England: Greenwood Press, 1977, 158. [back]

26. Michael Gilmore, American Romanticism and the Marketplace, Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1985, 41. [back]

27. Ibid., 35. [back]

28. Henry David Thoreau, Walden; Civil Disobedience [Bulg. trns.], Sofia: Narodna Kultura Publishing House, 1993; trns. Albena Bakratcheva. [back]




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© Albena Bakratcheva, 2002
© Publisher LiterNet, 25. 12. 2002
First, edition, electronic.

East-West American Studies Conference: "Cultural Exchanges between Central/Eastern Europe and America", Center for North American Studies and Research. Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, May 30-June 02, 2002.