The Bulgarians

A scarecrow in the village of Zimzelen in the Rhodopes; a man reading a newspaper in front of some park benches in Ruse; an ultra-nationalist rally in Sofia; a Roma girl dancing with closed eyes in the village of Kovachevitsa; men playing chess in the park in front of Naroden Theater in Sofia; a man in a rakija distillery in a village near Karnobat; two elderly Pomak women in traditional dresses with a snow-covered peak of the Rhodopes in the background; a border fence at the Bulgarian-Turkish border near the village of Beleozen; a girl behind the bar of a self-service pub in the village of Chervenka; a beggar and his dog on Vitosha Street in Sofia; men in a village mosque; two old men in Sozopol at the Black Sea; an abandoned school in a village in the Strandzha mountains; the Jewish cemetery in Karnobat –

these are just some of the subjects of the photos in Anthony Georgieff’s new book The Bulgarians, recently published in a high-quality bi-lingual edition. 

In the instructive foreword Georgi Lozanov points out the similarities of Georgieff’s anthropological photographic project with Robert Frank’s classical book The Americans. The Bulgarians shows a big variety of “average” individuals from different background, religion, ethnicity, age, gender, profession, social status, from urban areas as well as from remote villages, accompanied by photos that show human traces, graffiti, dilapidating buildings, or monuments of different eras, decaying or still fully revered. The element of the extraordinary moment, or of celebrity is carefully avoided in most cases (and when not, it is not with the aim to show celebrity, as is the case with the shot of a TV screen that shows the present Prime Minister, a photo that is reflecting the way most Bulgarians perceive politics). This, together with the careful composition of the work, make this – predominantly black and white – photo book a highly interesting statement regarding the identity of Bulgarians in the early 21st century.

While the parallels with Frank’s book are obvious, Lozanov points out also the differences which are particularly stunning when one compares photos of retired Americans with those of their Bulgarian peers:

“The former dress up in brightly coloured clothes, when their time for ‘well-deserved retirement’ comes, hang cameras around their necks, and start travelling the world. The latter (i,e. the retired Bulgarians – T.H.) put on dark clothes and headscarves, and sit on benches in front of their houses waiting for the world to pass them by. In The Bulgarians you will see Bulgarian grannies being passed by by the world.”

Not surprisingly, smiles are rare on the pages of The Bulgarians, but not completely missing. Georgieff has a sharp, but sympathetic eye – and for most people in Bulgaria, there is little reason to smile.

Two family photos from the private archive of the author open and end the photo sequence in the book. While the first one depicts a funeral in the family, approximately 90 years ago, the second one shows the author as an optimistic looking child. The comment the child wrote on the back of the photo made me smile, but you have to read it yourself…

Renowned journalist, photographer, and author Anthony Georgieff, the man behind Vagabond, the highly recommended English-language journal that publishes among other interesting articles about Bulgaria in every edition a story or an excerpt of a longer work by a contemporary Bulgarian author, has done an excellent job and this “anthropological roadtrip” will enrich everyone with a serious interest in Bulgaria and its people. It is also a photography book that may well be considered a classic in the years to come.

Georgieff told me after the book presentation I attended two days ago in Sofia that he is planning also a work related to Communist Bulgaria in the near future. I can say that I am looking forward to this work with great curiosity.

Anthony Georgieff: The Bulgarians. Preface by Georgi Lozanov, Vagabond Media, Sofia 2016

Some photos from the book you can find here.

The same publisher has produced some other equally interesting books that document  Bulgaria’s cultural, historical, religious and ethnic diversity in English and Bulgarian, and that are illustrated with excellent photos as well. More information on these books you can find here.

#BulgarianLitMonth2016

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-6. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

“Und spürst du…”, von Krum Atsev

И чувстваш ли
изгарящия вкус на живот по устните си
пустоскитнико
или нищо не чувстваш

———————————

Und spürst du
den brennenden geschmack des lebens auf deinen lippen
wüstenstreicher
oder spürst du nichts

 

aus: Krum Atsev: Tova-Onova, Izdatelstvo za poezija DA, Sofia 2016

Übersetzung von Thomas Hübner

#BulgarianLitMonth2016

 

PS: Dank an Vladimir Sabourin für den “wüstenstreicher”!

© Krum Atsev, 2016
© IK DA, 2016
© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-6. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

“wochenende”, von Stefan Ivanov

краят на седмицата
 
в тишината на неделния следобед
 
погледът преминава
през празната детската градина
покрай люляка брезите и
неопетнения от стъпки прах по паветата
 
няма човек
няма отражение
което да докаже
че те има
 
вятърът разнася
сивия цигарен дим
без да се вълнува
кой го е запалил

———————————————————–
 
wochenende
 
in der stille des sonntagnachmittags
 
schweift der blick
über den leeren kindergarten
vorbei an birken und flieder
ungestört von schritten auf dem staubigen pflaster
 
kein mensch
keine anzeichen
die beweisen
dass es dich gibt
 
der wind verbreitet
grauen zigarettenrauch
ohne sich darum zu scheren
wer ihn entfacht hat

aus: Stefan Ivanov: Spisatsi, Siela, Sofia 2009

Übersetzung aus dem Bulgarischen von Thomas Hübner

#BulgarianLitMonth2016

© Stefan Ivanov, 2009
© Siela, 2009
© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-6. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

“Durchsicht der Bücher, die ich nicht mag”, von Raycho Angelov

Преглед на книгите,
които не харесвам
 
Добро утро,
Джеймс Джойс!
Този сън
ще глътне
окото ти.
Той пита:
“Какво ще вечеряме?”
Жена му отвръща:
“Чадъри.”

———————————————

Durchsicht der Bücher,
die ich nicht mag
 
Guten Morgen,
James Joyce!
Dieser Traum
wird dein Auge
verschlucken.
Er fragt:
“Was gibt‘s zum Abendessen?”
Seine Frau erwidert:
“Regenschirme.”


Raycho Angelov: Kolektsija ot Stapki, Meki Minerali i Dushi, Fondatsija za balgarska literatura, Sofia 2011

Übersetzung von Thomas Hübner

#BulgarianLitMonth2016

© Raycho Angelov, 2011
© Fondatsija za balgarska literatura, 2011
© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-6. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

“Babel”, von Ekaterina Josifova

Вавилон

Внукът на поета може да чете стиховете му
в превод
всъщност не ги чете

започва краят на изкачването
падат отломки
в глината.

———————————————————————–

Babel

Der enkel des dichters kann seine verse
in übersetzung lesen
liest sie also nicht wirklich

es naht das ende des aufstiegs
tonscherben
fallen herab.


images

Ekaterina Josifova: Ratse, Zhanet-45, Plovdiv 2006

Übersetzung von Thomas Hübner

 

Ekaterina Josifova, die Autorin dieses Gedichts, wird heute 75 Jahre alt – 
Alles Gute! Честит Рожден Ден!

#BulgarianLitMonth2016

© Ekaterina Josifova, 2006
© IK Zhanet-45, 2006
© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-6. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

“Sonntag in Luxemburg”, von Marin Bodakov

Неделя в Люксембург

ако се успокоиш достатъчно,
а в крепостта ти нямаш други изходи,
ще доловиш

миризмата на тор,
трептежа на ванилия по кухненската маса,
разкошния живец на тишината

младенецът намачка писанието сутрин след сутрин  

——————————————————————————————–

Sonntag in Luxemburg

wenn du dich genug beruhigt hast,
und du in deiner festung keine anderen auswege hast,
wirst du begreifen

der geruch von mist,
die schwingungen von vanille auf dem küchentisch,
die üppige seele des schweigens

das kind zerknüllt das geschriebene morgen für morgen

———–

aus: Marin Bodakov: Naivno izkustvo, Zhanet-45, Plovdiv 2011

Übersetzung von Thomas Hübner

#BulgarianLitMonth2016

© Marin Bodakov, 2011
© IK Zhanet-45, 2011
© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-6. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

“Die Zigarre des linken Dichters”, von Vladimir Sabourin

Пурата на левия поет

                                                      на Мая Горчева

Изработена изцяло с ръчен труд
На Острова на свободата откъдето
Бягат на вътрешни гуми от трактор
С риск от акули и отнасяне в океана
 
Това е пурата на големите леви поети
Пурата на Брехт Пурата на Мюлер Пурата на Гео
 
В последния момент се присламчва член
На ЦК на БКП председател на СБП ницшеанец
Орфик от епохата на Възродителния процес 
 
Това е пура сложена върху чаша с ром
Който изветрява нощем пит от мъртвите тя тлее
Пушена от тях по пътя на всяка плът.

——————————————————————————————

Die Zigarre des linken Dichters

                                                                       für Maja Gorcheva

Vollständig von Hand gemacht
Auf der Insel der Freiheit von der sie
Auf den Gummischläuchen von Traktoren fliehen
Der Gefahr von Haien und dem offenen Meer ausgesetzt

Das ist die Zigarre der großen linken Dichter
Die Zigarre von Brecht Die Zigarre von Müller Die Zigarre von Geo

Im letzten Augenblick schleicht ein Mitglied
Des ZK der BKP herein Vorsitzender des Schriftstellerverbandes Nietzscheaner
Orphischer Sänger aus der Epoche des Wiedergeburtsprozesses

Das ist eine Zigarre auf ein Glas Rum gelegt
Die des Nachts die Grube der Toten ausblüht sie glimmt
Geraucht von Jenen auf dem Weg allen Fleisches.

—–

Geo: Geo Milev, bulgarischer Dichter, 1895-1925, im Zuge der Vergeltungsmassnahmen im Zusammenhang mit dem Sv. Nedelja-Attentat in Polizeigewahrsam ermordet und mit Hunderten anderer Opfer in einem Massengrab verscharrt

BKP: Bulgarische Kommunistische Partei

Wiedergeburtsprozess: euphemistische Bezeichnung der Politik der Zwangsassimilerung der türkischen Minderheit in Bulgarien zur Zeit des Kommunismus in den 1980er Jahren 

Übersetzung aus dem Bulgarischen von Thomas Hübner

Vladimir Sabourin: Rabotnikat i smartta (Der Arbeiter und der Tod), Small Stations Press, Sofia 2016

#BulgarianLitMonth2016

© Vladimir Sabourin, 2016
© Small Stations Press, 2016
© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-6. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

“Borges”, von Stefan Ivanov

борхес

1

той се страхувал
от две неща
от лабиринт
(къща без врати
в центъра на която
го очаква чудовище)
от огледала
(подозирал
че някога ще види отражението
на непознато лице
или още по-лошо
няма въобще да има лице)

възхищавал се
на свети августин
за метафоричната употреба
на християнски символи –
“христовият кръст
ни спаси
от кръглия лабиринт
на стоиците”

той не вярвал –

религията му била интересна

2

малко преди

да влезе в лабиринта
на вавилонската библиотека
да няма отражение в огледало

борхес помолил маргьорит юрсенар
да отиде в швейцарския апартамент
където някога живял
да му го опише

спестила му факта
че когато някой влиза
през входната врата
гигантско огледало
със златна рамка
сграбча посетителя
от глава до пети

3

малко преди да почине
на 14 юни 1986 в женева

борхес слуша как
медицинската сестра
му чете хайнрих фон офтердинген на новалис

чел я е
преди седемдесет
или седемстотин години
в същия град

когато отново отворил очи
не е имало огледало пред него
или банален лабиринт с чудовище

главният библиотекар
не си прави глупави шеги

———————————–

borges

1

er fürchtete sich
vor zwei dingen
vorm labyrinth
(einem haus ohne türen
in dessen mittelpunkt ihn
ein ungeheuer erwartet)
vorm spiegel
(er vermutete
dass er eines tages die reflexion
eines unbekannten gesichts
oder noch schlimmer
überhaupt keines gesichts sehen würde)

er bewunderte
den heiligen augustinus
für die metaphorische verwendung
christlicher symbole
“das christliche kreuz
rettet uns
vorm runden labyrinth
der stoiker”

er glaubte nicht –

seine religion war interessant

2

kurz bevor

er das labyrinth
der bibliothek von babel betrat
bevor es keine reflexion im spiegel mehr gab

bat borges marguerite yourcenar
in seine schweizer wohnung zu kommen
in der er einst lebte
und sie ihm zu beschreiben

sie ersparte ihm die tatsache
dass wenn jemand durch
die eingangstür trat
ein riesiger spiegel
mit goldrahmen
den besucher von kopf bis fuß
einfing

3

kurz bevor er starb
am 14. juni 1986 in genf

hörte borges zu
wie die krankenschwester ihm
heinrich von ofterdingen von novalis vorlas

er hatte es
vor siebzig
oder siebenhundert jahren
in derselben stadt gelesen

als er erneut die augen öffnete
befand sich kein spiegel und
kein banales labyrinth mit einem ungeheuer vor ihm

der große bibliothekar
machte keine dummen scherze

aus: Stefan Ivanov: Spisatsi, Siela, Sofia 2009

Übersetzung aus dem Bulgarischen von Thomas Hübner

#BulgarianLitMonth2016

© Stefan Ivanov, 2009
© Siela, 2009
© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-6. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Bulgarian Literature Month 2016 – How to participate

June 2016 will be Bulgarian Literature Month at Mytwostotinki’s – and some other bloggers and readers have announced that they intend to join. What about you – yes, YOU? (You see I can be very persistent when it comes to Bulgarian literature)

There are actually no real rules, just a few guidelines – reading and reviewing should be fun.

So, this is what I have in mind:

If you are a blogger and you want to join, publish your blog post(s) for Bulgarian Literature Month preferably in June until mid-July. It will help me to track down all participants easily when you send me a short message here, when you use the hashtag #BulgarianLitMonth2016, or when you link to this post when you publish your review on your own blog.

If you are a reader without your own blog: some book bloggers (including myself) are open to publish occasionally guest posts; so if you want to join, let me know and maybe I can publish your review here. By the way, blogging is easy and why you don’t consider to use this occasion to starting your own book blog?

And, your posts need not to be necessarily reviews, any book (and Bulgaria) related content is welcome. Your posts should be preferably in English (I won’t exclude blog posts in German or French as well).

Among all participants I will choose one that will be awarded another giveaway.

Talking about giveaways – there are two books I want to give to those who are interested. I have a copy of Virginia Zaharieva’s novel 9 Rabbits, translated by Angela Rodel, Istros 2012), a book I enjoyed very much; the other book I am giving away is a bi-lingual poetry collection: Ivan Hristov – American Poems (translated by Angela Rodel, DA Poetry Publishing 2013); I have translated some of the poems into German some time ago on this blog. This second book is a bit difficult to find outside Bulgaria and is already a kind of rarity.  Just leave me a note here until 12:00 p.m. Sofia time next Saturday (May, 21) and let me know in which of the two you are interested. The winners will be announced next Sunday.

Good luck and good reading – I am looking forward to your participation in Bulgarian Literature Month 2016!

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-6. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

“Victory Day” in Bulgaria

I was always wondering, why many Bulgarians celebrate Victory Day as if this victory was their own country’s achievement and usually without reflecting that Bulgaria was anything but a victor of WWII.

The country was a close ally of Nazi Germany for most of the war. The capital Sofia and many people in it became victims of the air raids by the Western allies. Then the country was invaded by the Soviets who established a Stalinist puppet regime that was for 45 years one of the worst and most suffocating in Eastern Europe.

“Victory Day” – really…?

I think history is a bit more complicated and ambiguous than that.

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-6. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.