Category Archives: Books

How official Bulgaria is (not) promoting its literature abroad

The second year in a row, I tried to get a copy of the actual edition of the “Catalogue of Contemporary Bulgarian Prose” – and the second time in a row, I failed.

But I am sure, it is much more efficient for the promotion of Bulgarian literature abroad to display a huge number of copies of this almanach – that was especially produced to serve the interest of those abroad who want to publish/promote Bulgarian authors in foreign languages – in “Peroto”, the book cafe in the National Palace of Culture in Sofia, than to hand out one copy to someone who belongs to the target group and makes an effort to get some Bulgarian authors published abroad.

This experience is completely in line with the bleak picture of how official Bulgaria – i.e. the state institution responsible for it – is (not) promoting its literature abroad.

And since I am at it: why was Bulgaria not officially represented in Leipzig, the book fair that is focused on Eastern Europe? Why is the Bulgarian booth in Frankfurt so poor and unprofessional? It is a pity, because these failed efforts are not reflecting what Bulgarian literature has to offer. With the same budget, with an attitude that is a little bit less arrogant, and with a little bit more professionalism it would be easy to achieve something much more effective and sustainable. It’s Bulgarian authors who suffer most from the present situation, and also potentially interested readers abroad.  

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-8. 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.

 


Старият феномен

Старият феномен. Човек го пише грешно от невежеството, а останалите следват инстинкта на стадото. Но все още се нарича “Канун на Лек Дукаджини” (Kanuni i Lekë Dukagjinit), а не “Канун на Лек Дукагини”. Жалко.

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-8. 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.

 


Джеф Безос и аз

Един умен потребител на ФБ от Русе разбра най-накрая истината за мен. Истината е: името ми е Джеф Безос и аз съм основният акционер на Амазон и най-богатият човек на света!. Да, не се шегувам. И това е как той разбра: тъй като съм издател на платформа CreateSpace, която наскоро публикува две книги от групата NSP и CreateSpace е платформата за самоиздателство на Amazon, истината зад всичко това може да бъде само: Джеф Безос е издател на Новата социална поезия, а в България Джеф Безос използва псевдонима Томас Хюбнер. Сега се страхувам от адвокатите на този умен човек, който ще направи всичко по силите си, за да ме изгони в Русе, където ще ме поставят в килия, където трябва да слушам цял ден на лента с поезия на този човек. И повярвайте ми, в сравнение с това, waterboarding е парче торта!

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-8. 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.

 


изненада

аз съм изненадан, че един млад български поет, с когото дори веднъж споделях вечеря и приятелски разговор, и за когото винаги мислих добре, харесва пост на един психически небалансиран човек, който ме нарича свиня, без особена причина. но хей, това са кръговете на българските поети, така че всичко е възможно …

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-8. 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 upcoming at Global Literature in Libraries Initiative

The Global Literature in Libraries Initiative will host a Bulgarian Literature Month in June! And while this is for me already a reason to beam with delight, I am even more pleased that I was invited to be the editor of this event! 

In practice this means that in June the blog of the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative website will publish on a daily basis book reviews of Bulgarian fiction, and of books related to Bulgaria, including non-fiction, by a wide range of contributors I hope. I will try to invite participants who can cover a big variety of topics and books for review, including literature from women, LGBT literature, books on history, culture, arts, etc. Additionally, I will try to squeeze in some other posts related to the topic, such as interviews with authors, publishers, translators and other relevant players in that field. So far I have already a lot of ideas and things will become more concrete very soon.

For a number of reviews of books I would like to include, I will contact some of the “usual suspects” I have in mind. But I am of course open, if one of my blogger colleagues wants to join in, or any other reader who thinks she/he can contribute something interesting. Eligible are texts that haven’t been published elsewhere. If you have questions, or if you want to write a contribution in the framework of Bulgarian Literature Month, please send me a message in the comment section of this blog post or at th@mytwostotinki.com.  

Thanks to Rachel Hildebrandt (just nominated for the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translation Prize!) and to Karen Van Drie from Global Literature in Libraries Initiative for giving me this opportunity – I feel honored! 

These words from the mission statement of GLLI I wholeheartedly support:

“The Global Literature in Libraries Initiative strives to raise the visibility of world literature for adults and children at the local, national and international levels. We intend to do so by facilitating close and direct collaboration between translators, librarians, publishers, editors, and educators, because we believe that these groups in collaboration are uniquely positioned to help libraries provide support and events to engage readers of all ages in a library framework that explores and celebrates literature from around the world.

We want to increase the visibility of international works in English translation so that more readers can enjoy the amazing diversity in these books and the perspectives they present. And we would like to do this by increasing cooperation between literary translators, international literature advocates, and librarians, who are already experts at guiding readers to new titles. Whether you are a children’s librarian or a YA blogger, a rural library director or a teacher at a large urban school with a diverse student population, we would welcome your insights as we explore collaborative opportunities to encourage readers to explore beyond the boundaries of their own culture and language.”  

I will keep you posted!

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-8. 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.

 

 

 

 


New Social Poetry from Bulgaria

There are not really a lot of poetry collections or anthologies by Bulgarian authors available in English. Therefore I take the opportunity to let those readers with an interest in poetry, or in Bulgarian literature, know that these days a new anthology with poetry by contemporary authors from Bulgaria has seen the light.  

New Social Poetry: The Anthology, translated by Christopher Buxton, is comprised of texts by a wide range of authors, some of them well-known in Bulgaria since decades, some of them very young and at the beginning of their poetic journey. The following authors participate in the anthology:  Zlatomir Zlatanov, Alexander Nikolov, Ani Ilkov, Atanas Petrov, Vania Valkova, Ventsislav Arnaoudov, Violeta Zlatareva, Vladimir Sabourín, Gancho Petrishki, Dilyana Parvanova, Ileana Stoyanova, Kiril Vassilev, Kristina Krumova, Marco Vidal, Michaela Angelova, Nikolaj Bojkov, Nikolay Fenerski, Plamena Girginova, Rositsa Bakalova, Ruzha Velcheva, Teodora Taneva, Thomas Hübner, Christina Vassileva. The title of the anthology refers to a literary movement that was founded 2016 in Sofia, and to the literary journal of the same name.  

I should mention in this context that the initiator of New Social Poetry, Vladimir Sabourin, recently published a book that deals with the origins of this literary movement: Towards a New Social Poetry: Aesthetico-political Theses (also translated by Christopher Buxton), an interesting and controversial essay, whose core, the Manifesto for New Social Poetry created quite an uproar in literary circles in Bulgaria, mainly because it was considered as a frontal attack against the literary establishment in Bulgaria and a type of literature that the author refers to as “lifestyle literature”. 

Alexander Nikolov, Atanas Petrov, Vania Valkova, Ivan Marinov, Kristina Krumova,  Ventsislav Arnaoudov, Vladimir Sabourín, Nikolay Fenerski, Christina Vassileva (eds.): New Social Poetry: The Anthology, translated by Christopher Buxton, CreateSpace 2018

Vladimir Sabourin: Towards a New Social Poetry: Aesthetico-political Theses,      translated by Christopher Buxton, CreateSpace 2018 

Both books are available at Amazon in printed form, the latter also as e-book. 

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-8. 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.

 


Georg Christoph Lichtenberg zur Tellkamp-Debatte

Noch einmal zum Thema Tellkamp:

Der Autor des Turm ist ja beileibe nicht der erste Schriftsteller, der sich im Politischen mit etwas hervorgetan hat, das man einfach nur als unredlich, ärgerlich, dumm, verlogen, infam oder perfide bezeichnen kann. Die Liste ist lang und umfasst auch Autoren vom Format eines Thomas Mann (man denke etwa an seine unsäglichen Betrachtungen eines Unpolitischen – immerhin, und das macht ja einen Teil der Grösse von Thomas Mann aus, hat er diesen Irrtum später erkannt und sich zum mutigen Verteidiger der Weimarer Republik gewandelt). Celine ist ein wichtiger Autor, trotz seiner widerlichen Bagatelles pour un massacre. Gleiches gilt für Peter Handke – noch so einer aus der Riege der Schöngeister, die ganz viel Empathie für die Gruppe haben, mit der sie sich identifizieren (in Handkes Fall diejenigen in Belgrad, die die ethnischen Säuberungen im serbischen Namen und deren Opfer zu verantworten haben) und ein kaltes Herz für die, mit denen er sich aus Denkfaulheit oder Charakterschwäche nicht befassen will, auch wenn diese Menschen unverschuldet schrecklich gelitten haben; Peter Handke ist in diesem Sinne so etwas wie ein “Proto-Tellkamp”. Und auch Tellkamp kann und soll man lesen, auch wenn man jetzt – nach der intellektuellen und charakterlichen Selbstdemontage des Autors – seine Werke sicher nicht mehr so unbefangen und naiv lesen kann wie vorher.  

Wie so oft, so hilft es auch hier, Georg Christoph Lichtenberg zu Rate zu ziehen. Er schreibt zum Thema:

“Viele sogenannte berühmte Schriftsteller, in Deutschland wenigstens, sind sehr wenig bedeutende Menschen in Gesellschaft. Es sind bloß ihre Bücher, die Achtung verdienen, nicht sie selbst. Denn sie sind meistens sehr wenig wirklich. Sie müssen sich immer erst durch Nachschlagen zu etwas machen, und dann ist es immer wieder das Papier, das sie geschrieben haben. Sie sind elende Ratgeber und seichte Lehrer dem, der sie befragt.” (Sudelbücher (K 192) 

Coverbild Sudelbücher I. Sudelbücher II. Materialhefte und Tagebücher. Register zu den Sudelbüchern von Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Wolfgang Promies (Hrsg.), ISBN-978-3-423-59075-4

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg: Sudelbücher – Dreibändige Gesamtausgabe, herausgegeben von Wolfgang Promies, dtv 2005 

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-8. 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.

 

 


“Es gibt keine wahre Liebe ohne Intellektualität!“

Das erste Buch, das wir – meine Co-Verlegerin Elitsa Osenska und ich – seinerzeit im Rhizome-Verlag auf bulgarisch herausgebracht haben, ist jetzt auch auf deutsch erschienen:

“SchrödingERs Katze” von Milena Nikolova (mit Illustrationen von Victor Muhtarov, Tita Kojcheva und Sava Muhtarov), und zwar im eta-Verlag, Berlin. 

Der bekannte Literaturkritiker, Übersetzer und Autor Robin Detje schreibt über das Buch:

„Milena Nikolova schlägt alle Warnungen in den Wind. Die Menschen wollen nur Gefühle? Man darf sie nicht mit Klugheit verschrecken? Man darf nicht zu viel wollen? Diese Katze will alles: Witz und Wissenschaft, Verspieltheit ohne Gnade, bis zum Kurzschluss der Erkenntnis. Virtuos dekonstruiert das Langgedicht die große Lüge von der Feindschaft zwischen Kopf und Bauch: Es gibt keine wahre Liebe ohne Intellektualität!“

Für uns war es ein Glücksfall, unsere verlegerische Tätigkeit mit einem solch aussergewöhnlich schönen, verspielten, wunderbaren Buch beginnen zu können.

Wir wünschen der Autorin, dem deutschen Verlag und allen Beteiligten ganz viel Erfolg mit dem Buch!

Wer dieser Tage die Buchmesse in Leipzig besucht, sollte unbedingt beim eta-Verlag vorbeischauen, der auch andere interessante bulgarische Autoren im Programm hat.

Am 16. März, 19.00, stellen die Autorin Milena Nikolova und Petya Lund, die engagierte Verlegerin des eta-Verlags, das Buch im Cafe Unkraut, Wolfgang-Heinze-Str. 21, 04277 Leipzig (Süd), vor.

Am 18. März, 15.30, folgt dann eine weitere Veranstaltung direkt auf der Messe, ebenfalls mit Autorin und Verlegerin (Ort: Literaturcafé, Halle 4, Stand B600).

Sehr empfehlenswert! 

Milena Nikolova: SchrödingErs Katze: Ein subatomares Liebesgedicht in Echtzeit (Illustrationen: Victor Muhtarov, Tita Kojcheva, Sava Muhtarov), eta-Verlag, Berlin 2018

 

Die bulgarische Ausgabe kann in jeder guten Buchhandlung in Bulgarien erworben werden, oder auch direkt beim Verlag (mail@rhizome-bg.com).

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-8. 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.
© eta-Verlag (Photo 1), 2018
© Rhizome Publishing and Chris Enchev (Photo 2), 2016-2018
© Victor Muhtarov, Tita Kojcheva, Sava Muhtarov (Photo 1 and 2), 2016-2018
© Robin Detje (Quote), 2018

 

 


In Ruse with Elias Canetti

In the first volume of his autobiography Die gerettete Zunge (The Tongue Set Free), Elias Canetti writes about his early childhood in the Bulgarian city of Ruse – Canetti uses throughout the book the old name Rustchuk -:

“Everything that I experienced later, had already happened once in Rustchuk…On any one day you could hear seven or eight languages.”

Despite having spent only his first six years in the city of his birth – the family emigrated to Manchester in 1911 and Canetti came back only once for a visit in 1915 – Ruse and its unique multilingual and multicultural atmosphere at that time left a lifelong mark on the future writer.

A small book in Bulgarian language with the title In Ruse with Elias Canetti (В Русе с Елиас Канети) sheds additional light on this early period of Canetti’s life, family background and social surrounding.

In the middle of the 19th century Ruse had developed into a thriving city. Located at the Danube it had by then attracted a lot of trading activities and the port of Ruse was the main artery through which goods were imported and exported from and to the whole region. An additional boost to the economic development was the fact that Ruse had a fast-growing Jewish (Sephardic) community which was one of the driving forces for Ruse’s modernization; this together with a general economic boom in the then revived Bulgarian state (until the Russian-Turkish War 1877-78 it had been part of the Ottoman Empire for almost five hundred years) made Ruse the then most modern and truly European city in Bulgaria.  

The authors give us interesting information about the origin and growth of the Jewish community in Ruse and trace back also the family background of Canetti’s parents. Grandfather Elias Canetti (the namesake of little Elias) came from Adrianopel (Edirne) to Ruse and became a successful trader, first with his partner in Constantinople, later on his own. He reigned his firm and his family like a benevolent despot, a true family man that cared a lot for his grandchildren and particularly his oldest grandson Elias; but at the same time he expected that his sons gave up on their own plans and would be part of the future family business with branches in all other important Bulgarian cities.

For Jacques, young Elias’ father, this was a source of permanent inner conflicts – he was a talented violinist and dreamed of a career as a musician in a chamber quartet. Also Mathilde, his wife and Elias’ mother, was a talented amateur musician (she played the piano); there are photos that show the parents as musicians in a public concert in Ruse. Another photo shows Jacques, then a dashing young man, in a carnival costume – both parents who had spent years in their youth in Vienna loved the theatre and literature, things for which Grandfather Canetti had not much interest and which he might have considered at best as harmless hobbies, but as nothing serious.

Beside this latent conflict between Jacques and Elias Senior, another quite open conflict clouded the childhood of the future Nobel Prize winner. Mathilde’s family, the Arditis, were against the marriage of their youngest daughter with Jacques Canetti. The Arditis, one of the oldest and high-ranking Sephardic families could trace back their origin until the 13th century when some of their ancestors were astronomers and doctors at the courts of the Kings Alfonso IV and Pedro IV. After 1492, the family settled in Livorno and later in the Ottoman Empire, where several of their members became famous rabbis, kabbalists and scientists; the Arditis were among the first Jewish families in Ruse and looked down on Elias Senior and his family as upstarts, who had just arrived from the Orient and were no match for the famous and cultured Arditi family. One of the remaining (and traumatic) memories of his early childhood in Ruse was for Canetti a visit in Grandfather Arditi’s house. This grandfather, who never paid much attention to Elias and never gave him a present, asked his grandson on one occasion, which of his grandfathers he loved more – Grandpa Canetti or Grandpa Arditi. When the poor boy said “Both!”, he was immediately called a liar and hypocrite by his maternal grandfather. 

One of the most interesting chapters for me was the one on the artistic talent of Canetti’s parents, especially that if his father. Ruse had quite an active social and cultural life, and much of it was initiated and kept alive mainly by its Jewish citizens. Ruse has a beautiful theatre that regarding its size and architecture could be as well in Vienna or Budapest. During Ruse’s best times, many famous international troupes visited the Danubian city, the same goes for many musicians and orchestras. There were amateur theatre groups and concerts that raised funds for the education of poor but talented Jewish children, the Bnai Brith Loge played an important role in the social fabric of the Jewish community, and there were also some of the first Zionist organisations in Bulgaria which had their headquarters in Ruse. Other chapters cover the donations made by Canetti’s grandfather and father, the efforts of Jews from Ruse to support the war effort in the Balkan Wars and WWI, either as soldiers or by financial support. Another short chapter describes how Canetti learned some folk rhymes and stories from young Bulgarian peasant girls, stories he later found again in a German book about Bulgarian fairy tales and folk stories and that left obviously a deep impression on him. Philately, the role of the different newspapers in the Canetti household (in Ladino and in German), and the comet Halley are also covered by short but instructive chapters.

The Orator is the title of the longest chapter of the book, and it deals with Canetti’s relationship with one of the most colorful members of the Canetti-Arditi family, Elias’ cousin Benjamin ‘Bubi’ Arditi (Canetti calls him ‘Bernhard’ in a letter addressed to him that is reproduced in the book). Bubi, just a few years older than his cousin, was for some time a strong influence for Canetti and he is explicitly mentioned in the second volume of Canetti’s autobiography Die Fackel im Ohr (The Torch in My Ear).

After Canetti’s parents moved to Manchester with their three sons (Elias, Nissim and Georges), Elias saw his cousin during both visits in Bulgaria; in Summer 1915 in Ruse and in 1924 in Sofia. During this period Bubi had became a fervent Zionist and public speaker. Elias was so impressed by his cousin who engaged himself with all his energy in something much bigger than himself, a cause for the Jewish community, that we find traces of The Orator also in Masse und Macht and in his Aufzeichnungen. For a short time, young Elias seemed also to have considered to become a Zionist. Bulgarian Jews were in those days frequently targeted by the terrorist IMRO (today this extremist right-wing political party that is still proud of its criminal and antisemitic origin and which propagates quite openly violence against ethnic minorities and refugees is part of the Bulgarian Government!), that openly threatened to kill those who didn’t pay hefty sums to them; blackmail, collection of “protection” money and contract killings were the main financial sources of this “patriotic” group – today, being part of the Bulgarian government, they use means that are only slightly more subtle – that was in its high time considered the most ruthless group of assassins in Europe.  – When Canetti fell in Vienna under the spell of an even greater orator, Karl Kraus, this interest in Zionist politics faded away completely. 

The book reproduces several letters of Canetti to his cousin Bubi and to people in Bulgaria who got in touch with him in his later life. He found touching words for his attachment to Ruse and the importance of the city for himself and his development as a writer.

This small book is not only very informative, it is also an important document of the renewed connection of the writers’ birthplace with this extraordinary son of Ruse. Canetti’s daughter visited Ruse for the first time in 1998 and initiated together with Penka Angelova from the University Veliko Tarnovo and other supporters the International Elias Canetti Society, which is now very active to promote the literary work of Elias Canetti, and the values for which he stood. The three engravings that show Old Ruse and that were among Canetti’s most treasured belongings, are now back in Ruse – a donation by his daughter. And there is a chance that not only the former building of the trading house Elias Canetti (Senior) in Slavyanski Street 14 in Ruse will be revived, but maybe also that the author’s birthplace at Gurko Street 13 will be turned into a museum one day. (Interestingly, the English Wikipedia page about Canetti, claims that the building at Slavyanska is his birthplace – a building that the author has rarely ever entered, since it was an office and a warehouse, not a residential building.)   

While the book provided me with interesting, new to me information and is written with real love and devotion to the subject, I have to mention two points with which I had a problem.

The book contains many reproductions of photos and other documents; that’s a good thing since it adds considerably to the quality of the given information and makes the book even more interesting and readable. However – and this really unforgivable – the book mentions absolutely no sources of any of the photos and documents, and therefore also not of the owners of the copyright of these illustrations. That is highly disappointing and doesn’t correspond with the standard of a book publication; it is even infringing the copyright – something that is considered in Bulgaria unfortunately as no offence at all by many people. For me it is a question of honesty and intellectual integrity not to disregard in such a shameful way the intellectual property of others, and it is a real pity that such an otherwise recommendable book has such a very serious flaw. 

I had also a problem with a question regarding a detail in the chapter devoted to The Orator. Bubi Arditi, a lifelong supporter of the revisionist Zionist Vladimir Zeev Jabotinsky, the Irgun, and other right-wing groups, was also politically involved with the last Czar Simeon II (and later Prime Minister Simeon Sakskoburggotski).

Simeon launched a long time ago a campaign to depict his father Boris III as the “saviour” of the Bulgarian Jews during WWII, a claim that has been a long time ago discarded by serious historians. In the contrary, Boris III was the main Bulgarian responsible for the extermination of the Jews in the annexed territories in Macedonia and Thracia. I don’t want to go into the details here regarding this topic, but it is important to know that Bubi Arditi wrote a book that supports Simeon’s revisionist theory.

After referring Arditi’s position that Boris III was the “saviour” of the Bulgarian Jews and his blaming the “Jewish communists in Bulgaria” that they are liars, the book claims surprisingly that Canetti shared his cousin’s opinion on this question. But while there can be no doubt about the fact that Canetti rejected the communist system in Bulgaria with harsh words, he was never a supporter of the thesis that Boris III was the “saviour” of the Bulgarian Jews and the reproduced letter proves – if anything – the opposite. The rather ambiguous wording of the authors in this particular context leaves room for the interpretation that they think that Canetti shared his cousin’s opinion. But Canetti was never ever a supporter of revisionist ideologues and I was rather annoyed by this passage in an otherwise very recommendable text.   

P.S. In case you wonder, the French actor Pierre Arditi is also a member of the Canetti-Arditi family. His father Georges and Elias were cousins.

.В Русе с Елиас Канети

Veselina Antonova / Ivo Zheynov: In Ruse with Elias Canetti, MD Elias Canetti, Ruse 2016

Elias Canetti: The Tongue Set Free, Granta Books, London 1999, translated by Joachim Neugroschel 

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-8. 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.

Moldauisches Heft (1): Bücher und Menschen

Bücher und Menschen

K. und ich sitzen dicht neben dem kleinen altertümlichen Ofen, der auf Hochtouren läuft, aber gerade nur so viel Wärme abgibt, dass man es eben noch so aushalten kann im winterlich kalten Studio des Malers und Dichters D. P. in Chisinau. Uns gegenüber sitzt D., der gerade in einen Katalog eines bulgarischen Malers vertieft ist, den er zu dessen Lebzeiten gekannt hat; zwischen uns ein Tisch auf dem sich Malutensilien, diverse Brillen, Medikamentenschachteln, ein Teller mit Früchten und drei noch halbvolle Gläser mit moldauischem Cognac ein Stelldichein geben. D. strahlt. Der Besuch und das Interesse an seinen Gemälden tun ihm gut und er blüht förmlich auf. Besonders gegenüber der jungen Frau zeigt er sich aufmerksam und charmant und ich wundere mich nicht, dass sehr viele seiner im Studio befindlichen Werke Porträts meist junger Frauen und Mädchen sind. Trotz seiner 74 Jahre flirtet er ein wenig mit K., die es mit gutem Humor aufnimmt. Zur aufgekratzten Stimmung trägt auch bei, dass ich ein Bild gekauft habe, ein stimmungsvolles, schön komponiertes Stillleben mit Früchten und einer Karaffe, welches mir sofort auffiel. D. hat große Probleme mit den Augen und der ausgemachte Kaufpreis hilft, die notwendige Operation zu bezahlen.

– ‚Ich komme aus einer Familie, in der es Bücher gab und in der gelesen wurde‘, sagt D. nachdem er den Katalog zur Seite gelegt hat. – ‚Das war ganz und gar nicht alltäglich in unserem Dorf im Budzhak, dem heute zur Ukraine gehörenden Teil Bessarabiens. Die Liebe zur bulgarischen Sprache habe ich von meiner Mutter, das Verständnis für den Reichtum der Muttersprache und dafür, dass Sprache mehr sein kann als nur ein bloßes Verständigungsmittel; das Wissen, dass man wirklich in der Sprache wohnen und zuhause sein kann habe ich von ihr. Die Liebe zu und der Respekt vor Büchern kommt dagegen vom Vater und Großvater. Zu Anfang des letzten Jahrhunderts hat Großvater angefangen, eine private Bibliothek zusammenzutragen. Darin gab es Bücher in verschiedenen Sprachen, Bulgarisch, Russisch, Rumänisch…viele davon müssen teuer gewesen sein; es waren aufwendig gedruckte und gebundene Bände darunter, viele mit Illustrationen. Er liebte besonders Werke zu religiösen Themen. Auch mein Vater kaufte später Bücher für diese private Bibliothek. Als dann die Rumänen kamen, füllte er eine große hölzerne Truhe mit Büchern in russischer Sprache, die er dann irgendwo vergrub. Wer russische Bücher im Haus hatte, galt den Rumänen als gefährlich, als Verräter, und hatte mit schweren Konsequenzen zu rechnen; mancher verlor sein Leben wegen ein paar russischer Erbauungsbücher im Haus. Später kamen dann die Russen zurück, und wieder wurde eine große hölzerne Truhe gefüllt, diesmal mit Büchern in rumänischer Sprache. Nun wurde nämlich jeder mit rumänischen Büchern im Haus als Verräter angesehen und schwer bestraft, in die Verbannung geschickt oder erschossen. Niemand weiß heute mehr, wo die Truhen vergraben sind; vielleicht hat jemand sein Haus dort gebaut, wo sie liegen, nicht ahnend, was für ein Schatz und was für eine Geschichte dort verborgen ist.‘

Über das Buchenland, die Bukowina, und seine Hauptstadt Czernowitz sagte Paul Celan, dass dort einst Bücher und Menschen lebten; doch dasselbe gilt wohl auch für das benachbarte, am gleichen Meridian gelegene Bessarabien.

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