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Reference:

Bulgaria in the Life and Work of YU.V. Trifonov

Chernikova Natalia

Postgraduate of the department of history of contemporary Russian literature and contemporary literary process of the philological faculty of Lomonosov Moscow State University; teacher at University gymnasium of Lomonosov Moscow State University

119192, Russia, Moscow, Lomonosovsky Prospekt str., 27, room 7

natti.natt@yandex.ru

DOI:

10.25136/2409-8698.2022.9.38838

EDN:

PWAWYE

Received:

26-09-2022


Published:

07-10-2022


Abstract: The article is devoted to the work of Yu.V. Trifonov in Bulgarian Russian studies, as well as some periods of the author's life that link his fate with Bulgaria. The article presents translations of the works into Bulgarian, as well as the names of those who popularized the author's work in Bulgaria. In connection with translation reception, periods of reader activity are highlighted, and interest in the work of the writer is revealed in certain years. The principles of evaluating the work of a writer in humanitarian thought are discussed. The translation of the author of the article contains the most typical excerpts from the statements of Bulgarian writers about Trifonov: many of the Bulgarian researchers mentioned in the article knew the writer personally and share their memories of meeting with him. Scientists are looking for different approaches to the study of Trifonov's work. The writer's prose becomes the object of research in related fields of scientific knowledge: sociology and journalism. An interview with Trifonov, given to Bulgarian journalists at the Varna Film Festival and previously published only in Bulgarian, is quoted. In the interview, the topics and problems of the author's prose are discussed. In addition, the heroes and famous works of the writer in Bulgaria are analysed. The essay "The smallest city", which has an autobiographical character, is analyzed; the work combines the image of a personal tragedy (its biographical basis is a trip to Bulgaria with his daughter after the death of his wife) and a detailed description of the culture of Bulgaria and the mentality of the Bulgarian people. The article reveals the importance of the "Bulgarian period" in Trifonov's work, shows that Bulgaria is becoming for the author an integral part of his creative path.


Keywords:

Trifonov, Urban prose, translations, interview, Bulgarians, culture of Bulgaria, Nina Nelina, Olga Tangyan, The smallest city, biographical sketch

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

In the 1960s and 1980s, the work of Yu.V. Trifonov was not only familiar to the Russian reader, but also widely known in Bulgaria, since the author himself visited this country more than once, took an active part in various cultural events, and most of the works were almost immediately translated into Bulgarian.Trifonov's very first novel "Students" was translated into Bulgarian two years after its appearance, in 1952, and published in the publishing house "Narodna Mladezh".

One of the most famous translators, Wenzel Raichev, actively popularized Trifonov's work in Bulgaria. Several of the writer's works appear in his translations at once: the novel "The Old Man" (the magazine "Sremennik", No. 1, 1979), which was then published in 1981 in the publishing house "Narodna Kultura"; in the magazine "Torch" in No. 5 (1984), a translation of Trifonov's article "The Riddle and the Providence of Dostoevsky" appears. In 1987, Raichev, together with the translator V. Sarandeva, published the novel "The House on the Embankment". A year later, in 1988, the same translators are working on a collection of works by Trifonov, which includes the novellas "The House on the Embankment", "Another Life", as well as the novel "The Old Man".

Translated by R. Uzunova, also a famous translator from Russian to Bulgarian, in 1977 the writer's novel "Impatience" appeared. In 1980, the collection "Urban Stories" was published, on which a group of translators was already working: L. Minkov, B. Drumev and V. Sarandev.

In 1983, the Bulgarian public got acquainted with the novel "The Overturned House", and in 1986 T. Angelova presented to the Bulgarian people a translation of the novel "Time and Place". One of the last works of the author that are published in Bulgarian - the documentary novel "The Glow of the Fire", as well as the unfinished novel "Disappearance" - appear in translation in 1990 in the publishing house "Narodna Kultura".

It is important to pay attention to the fact that in the 2000s, interest in the writer's work decreases and reader activity decreases, the author's books are not republished, and some researchers write that Trifonov is a "brilliant but forgotten author" [1].

If we talk about the author's acquaintance with Bulgarian culture, it happened in 1961 (a business trip from the Literary Newspaper); in 1963 he visited Bulgaria as a tourist with his wife Nelya Nelina, in 1967 he returned to the Balkans with his daughter OlgaTangyan; the last trip to Bulgarian cities was made in 1978 [2].

Trifonov was personally acquainted with many Bulgarian writers and cultural figures. For example, the Bulgarian writer and publisher Nikola Radev studied in Moscow at the Literary Institute, knew the writer well and, most likely, read the author's works in the original. In a short essay, Radev wrote about the author's popularity in Bulgaria, recalled meeting him in 1978 at the Golden Sands resort: "I met the Soviet writer Yuri Trifonov many years ago in Moscow, even then I was delighted with his "urban" stories" [3]. At the same time, Radev recalls the case associated with the appearance of the novella "Students" with obvious irony: "At that time, Angel Todorov was the secretary of the Union of Bulgarian Writers, a very important and sociable person, a passionate admirer of official banquets and business trips. <...>. In Moscow, he attends one event after another. Finally, the organizers ask him if there is a desire outside the program. Yes, there is! He wants to meet with a young writer Yuri Trifonov, the author of the novella "Students"" [3].

A similar negative assessment of the "Students" was given by the dissident, literary critic and writer Georgi Markov (1929-1978), who noted that the manner of traditional socialist realism in which the story was written was alien to the mature Trifonov: "He alienated me with his sublime pathos. <...> Even the intimate and tragic moments were imbued with the pathos of social realism" [4]. About the "House on the Embankment" (1975) Markov writes: "This time <...> Yuri Trifonov is trying to avenge himself and for himself. It is as if his whole new story is permeated with a loud and oppressive cry: Enough of Soviet lies! The truth is different! [4].

If we turn to the subject of the writer's works, it should be noted that Bulgarian researchers are looking for different approaches to the study of the author's works. For example, sociologist T. Nedelcheva in the book "Hail and Vlast" (1991), which analyzes in detail the Soviet society, the lifestyle of the Soviet man, urbanization and a number of other problems in the USSR, offers the Bulgarian public an experimental study. The scientist managed to combine the traditional sociological and literary: the author of the book, making references to the work of Trifonov and his "Moscow stories", examines the features of the Soviet era in the context of the writer's work. Bulgarian literary critic N. Dimitrova believes that such a method, implying the "interpenetration" of literature and sociology, allows the reader to fully reveal the originality of Soviet thought and feel like "co-authors of polemics" [5].

It is also interesting that within the framework of the study, the Bulgarian scientist manages to combine two spaces: the features of a real Soviet city and the artistic image of Moscow created in the author's novels. The scientist focuses on the realities of the Soviet era, for example, the housing issue and communal services (the story "Exchange") [6].

The problems of the works, as well as some other features of the writer's work, are discussed in an interview given by Trifonov to the Bulgarian journalist V.Kinova and the previously mentioned translator Uzunova in 1978 in Varna, where he arrived at the invitation of book publishers at the film festival. Kinov recalled the impression the meeting with the writer made on him: "Tired, but filled with love eyes looked at me through big glasses. <...> I also remembered something very important for myself. I can't say exactly which book we were talking about when he said, "God has chosen ones for every work."[7] The journalist considered the writer himself to be such a "chosen one".

In the introductory speech to the published interview, Kinov stressed that the writer is known to the Bulgarian public as the "author" of the new and progressive "Russian urban prose" [7].

Kinov notes that the novel "Impatience", dedicated to the XIX century, is widely known in Bulgaria, and clarifies why Trifonov decided to create a novel about the terrorists of the people. The writer explains that the historical theme has always attracted him, and this is not his first work in this vein: there was a documentary book about the revolution and the Civil War, "The Glow of the Campfire." At the same time, Trifonov admits that the work seriously fascinated him, and he collected materials for a long time, working hard in the archives [7].

Social issues, according to Trifonov, form the basis of many of his novels: "If a writer is looking for serious social problems and "looks into life", he will certainly find them in the most ordinary things, in the relationships between people" [7]. Trifonov dwells in detail on the story "Exchange" and the "clash of different points of view of people who live together" depicted in it: "It seems to me that the study of relationships in the family can become a very important tool with which you can identify a "social" diagnosis and convey something really important to society" [7].

The interviewer is inclined to perceive the characters of a modern writer based on his experience of reading classical Russian literature: "Soviet literature in your person reveals the soul of a "small", ordinary person, this is a kind of projection of Chekhov's hero today" [7]. The writer does not agree: "I don't consider my heroes to be "small" people. This term is not very close to me at all little man, little people <...> they are small or big, it is not for us to judge. <>. I'm interested in people I know well. These are my acquaintances, my friends, my enemies, and I am in between them, and it is they who interest me, you understand me, that I am writing about" [7].

The interview also talks about "small prose" and mentions the biographical essay "The Smallest City" (1967) about the Bulgarian Melnik, in fact the smallest city in southwestern Bulgaria.

***

Melnik became a part of Trifonov's personal destiny. F.I. Berman recalls: "One day I asked Trifonov which story Trifonov considers the best. He replied: The smallest city. <...> I considered Trifonov's best story to be the story The Pigeon's Death, also published in the New World. But later I found out that "The Smallest City" is a story about Trifonov's greatest love, about love for his wife Nina Nelina" [8]. The writer's daughter Olga Tangyan, in a book of memoirs about her father, admits that Melnik was significant for the relationship of parents: "... Melnik was important to Trifonov not only because he was the "smallest" in the world. A few years ago he was in Bulgaria with his mother."[9].

Trifonov describes in sufficient detail the journey of the hero-narrator. The road to Melnik allows us to say about Bulgaria as a whole: Shipka is mentioned with its monument of the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878), Plovdiv, Sofia ... "<...> returning from the sea along the southern road, making a detour to stop at Shipka. I thought this Renault was no longer in the world. Even then it barely creaked, and the road from Plovdiv to Sofia, one hundred and fifty kilometers, I remember as an autumn nightmare" [10]. Pencho speaks about Bulgarian history, about one of its most tragic pages the reign of Tsar Samuel (997-1014): "And when Tsar Samuel saw his soldiers <...> whom Emperor Vasily released from captivity, he fell to the ground and died of grief I saw them wading through the Struma Valley from the Byzantine captivity, clinging to each other, and those who fell remained lying. Vasily the Second, nicknamed the Bulgarian Fighter, blinded the entire army of Tsar Samuel, defeated at Belasitsa, fifteen thousand Bulgarians, leaving every hundredth crooked" [10]. It has already been noted that this fragment creates "a sense of historical interconnectedness, interdependence of people", and the images of the Bulgarian old men mentioned in it are "the personified memory that has come down to us" [11]. The old people in Trifonov's Bulgaria are the keepers of traditions and folk memory: the narrator, in a conversation with grandfather Kiriak, notices an ancient custom that often misleads tourists: Bulgarians do not "nod" in agreement, but, on the contrary, shake their heads negatively: "Grandfather Kiriak shook his head in agreement and muttered: "So" they say Poles, "Ano" Czechs say, "Gut" Germans say. "Good" we Bulgarians say, "Yes" the Russians say..."" [10].

Depicting the life of Melnik, Trifonov notes ethnic features and introduces Bulgarian words into the text, for example, mentions in the essay the custom of drinking coffee "in Turkish" ("in Turkish"), referring to the times of the Ottoman Empire: "We went into a sweet shop, where it was smoky, smelled of coffee, old people were sitting at tables <...>. They watched us take off our raincoats, sit down, how Pencho lights up, how Alya frowns out the window, how the waiter approaches and Pencho orders three Turkish-style coffees<...>"[10].

Describing the Bulgarian people as a whole, the author draws attention to the fact that Bulgarians do not like to rush, they know how to appreciate life, and a good conversation should certainly be accompanied by national Bulgarian dishes, for example, "salad shop style": "<...> my dear Pencho, who for some reason called us from Moscow, for some reason was carrying on the winter road to Melnik, instead of sitting now in a Russian club or with journalists and drinking raki, having a snack with a salad in a shop style, a piece of white cheese, then taking coffee, more coffee, and more raki and more coffee..." [10].

The narrator's arguments about the cultural peculiarities of Bulgaria are often accompanied by personal experiences, and the finale of the essay again brings the reader back to the motive of memories, representing a conversation between father and daughter.

In the minds of the Bulgarian people, Trifonov remained a writer who was spiritually close to the "fraternal" people, knew the traditions of this country, and his work about the "smallest city" of Bulgaria, where this country appears as the writer himself knew it, with a national Balkan flavor and original traditions, became a kind of symbol linking life and the author's work with Bulgarian culture.

References
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Peer Review

Peer reviewers' evaluations remain confidential and are not disclosed to the public. Only external reviews, authorized for publication by the article's author(s), are made public. Typically, these final reviews are conducted after the manuscript's revision. Adhering to our double-blind review policy, the reviewer's identity is kept confidential.
The list of publisher reviewers can be found here.

The reviewed article deals with the issue of socio-historical significance of Yu. Trifonova in Bulgaria. Undoubtedly, the relevance of the study lies in the fact that in addition to evaluating the artistic heritage of this writer, it is interesting to observe how a particular topos affects the writing of a literary canvas. As the author notes at the beginning of the work, "in the 1960s and 1980s, the work of Yu.V. Trifonov was not only familiar to the Russian reader, but also widely known in Bulgaria, since the author himself visited this country more than once, took an active part in various cultural events, and most of the works were almost immediately translated into Bulgarian". I would like to note that the researcher's position is well-reasoned, there are a sufficient number of important references in the text that help to fully reveal the topic. For example, "Trifonov was personally acquainted with many Bulgarian writers and cultural figures. For example, the Bulgarian writer and publisher Nikola Radev studied in Moscow at the Literary Institute, knew the writer well and, most likely, read the author's works in the original. In a short essay, Radev wrote about the author's popularity in Bulgaria, recalled meeting him in 1978 at the Golden Sands resort: "I met the Soviet writer Yuri Trifonov many years ago in Moscow, even then I was delighted with his "urban" stories," or "if we turn to the subject of the writer's works, it should be noted that Bulgarian researchers are looking for different approaches to studying the author's works. For example, sociologist T. Nedelcheva in the book "Hail and Vlast" (1991), which analyzes in detail Soviet society, the lifestyle of Soviet people, urbanization and a number of other problems in the USSR, offers the Bulgarian public an experimental study. The scientist managed to combine the traditional sociological and literary: the author of the book, making references to the work of Trifonov and his "Moscow stories", examines the peculiarities of the Soviet era in the context of the writer's work. Bulgarian literary critic N. Dimitrova believes that such a method, implying the "interpenetration" of literature and sociology, allows the reader to fully reveal the originality of Soviet thought and feel like "co-authors of polemics", etc. In my opinion, the author managed to compile the necessary / information-rich material into a single semantic construct. The language and style of the essay tends towards the scientific type proper, no serious factual violations have been identified. The logic of the scientific narrative is straightened throughout the work. It is noteworthy that the researcher, in addition to stating the facts, also thinks over the option of an active dialogue with the reader: "the problems of the works, as well as some other features of the writer's work, are discussed in an interview given by Trifonov to the Bulgarian journalist V.To Kinov and the previously mentioned translator Uzunova in 1978 in Varna, where he arrived at the invitation of book publishers at the film festival," or "describing the Bulgarian people as a whole, the author draws attention to the fact that Bulgarians do not like to rush, they know how to appreciate life, and a good conversation must certainly be accompanied by national Bulgarian dishes, for example, "salad in theshopsky": "<...> my dear Pencho, who for some reason called us from Moscow, for some reason drove us on the winter road to Melnik, instead of sitting now in a Russian club or at journalists and drinking raki, having a snack with a salad shop style, a piece of white cheese, then take coffee, more coffee, and more raki and coffee again..." etc. The permissibility of forming one's own view of the problem is a clear positive point of the article. References and citations are given in the mode of standard variations, consonance with the bibliographic list is available. In the finale of the work, it is stated that "in the minds of the Bulgarian people, Trifonov remained a writer who was spiritually close to the "fraternal" people, knew the traditions of this country, and his work is about the "smallest city" of Bulgaria, where this country appears as the writer himself knew it, with a national Balkan flavor and original traditions, It has become a kind of symbol linking the author's life and work with Bulgarian culture." The material can be organically used in the study of Russian literature of the twentieth century, literary criticism, and the work of Yuri Trifonov. The article "Bulgaria in the life and work of Yu.V.Trifonov" can be recommended for open publication in the journal "Litera".
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