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Georgi Vassilev


By way of brief presentation we can say of Stephan Gechev (29.01.1911- 04.01.2000) that he is a Bulgarian writer whose achievements entitle him to world recognition. In his plays THE CASE OF THE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE BODY OF JESUS OF NAZARETH (staged in Washington, 1995) and THE GOLGOTHA OF BARABBAS (both published in 1999), he created two of the best contemporary interpretations of the personality of Jesus Christ.

When awarding him the Greek GOLDEN CROSS OF THE LEGION(1996), Ambassador Atanasios Sideris called him 'kalos kai agathos', thus borrowing a term from the Ancient Greek philosopher Plato to compliment the Bulgarian author on his spiritual greatness. A year later France made him 'Chevalier de l'Ordre de l'art et de la litterature' for his 'contribution to world art'.

Despite such international signs of appreciation, his achievements were not duly recognised in his native country. The former communist dictatorship took repressive action against him in 1967 when his modernist poetic NOTEBOOK was denounced for its 'bourgeois decadence'. For almost 30 years he was silent as no state publisher would agree to publish his work. Things did not change drastically after 1989 when Bulgaria began its transition to a market economy: no mark of official esteem was ever shown him.

The poetry of Stephan Gechev may be said to have literally come from the future. His volume of poetry QUESTIONS (1994) introduces in our consciousness visions thickk like prophet's dream.

Stephan Gechev's novel VICTORY AND HER SONS (1995) provides an adequate key to the complex history of Eastern Europe in the 20th century. In 1999 he published his short novel CRIME ON STREET FORMER 'SNOW-DRIFT' which portrays a fantastic journey into the unfamiliar area of the unconscious. His collections of short stories CRUEL BENEFACTRESS and 'THE PRISONER OF SIGNOR' present examples of original philosophically tinged imagery.  Stephan Gechev's translations into Bulgarian will long be remembered. His beautiful translations of work by Kavafis, Seferis, Elitis, Dicteos and other Greek poets overcame the restrictions imposed by the Iron Curtain, thus making it possible for Bulgarians to familiarise themselves with the highest achievements of contemporary European poetry. The anthology 'FRENCH POETS SURREALISTS' had to wait for 10 years before finally appearing in 1992 to add a new dimension to the Bulgarian literary perception. ANTHOLOGIA PALATINA /1995,1996/, his own version and explained by him, is a contact with the one of the basic funds of the Hellenic literature.

Literary critic Athanas Svilenov best summed up the inexhaustible presence of Stephan Gechev in Bulgarian and world literature by saying: 'In the new century which we are entering Bulgarian culture will be sure to find substantial support and recognition because of the maker of new ways Stephan Gechev.'



© Georgi Vassilev
© E-magazine LiterNet, 21.10.2000, № 10 (11)