Bulgarian’s Images in the Western Literature (19th C. - the Beginning of 20th C.)

Raia Zaimova.

The Western Literature covers a huge area of problems about civilizations’ development and as a part of this by no purpose becomes bearer of memory which settlement on the Balkans is certified starting from 18th Century. Due this, the Western stereotypes about Bulgarians (concerning their origin and medieval state, faith and peaceful way of life) are welcomed in our writings.

The Bulgarians are not passed by the European enlightenment problem civilization-barbarity too. Some of their traditional features as hospitality, their peaceful and humble way of life during the Ottoman period are constantly outlined by the foreign travellers. A new tendency closed to the European attitude and orientation is added to the “already seen and heard”. The education is treated by the Bulgarians as a measure for longings towards knowledge and human being’s development. Especially the extraction of freedom is perceived as a salvation from the barbarity and the search for the right way to the civilization.

The national idea and patriotism are highly appreciated by a number of foreigners. During the Ottoman period these moral features are closed to the struggle for mental and political freedom. But at the end of 19th Century and the beginning of 20th Century, inside the boundaries of independent state, the situation is quite different. The moral progress of Bulgarians, who have proved their ability to build independent state, shapes in the foreigner’s mind a scale of advancement and civilization, adequate to the European patterns.

The reverses in the Balkan peoples’ fate during and after the wars, the attempts for their reasoning, involuntarily form universal mutuality war-peace which springs form the enlightenment barbarity-civilization. The Bulgarians are put in the range of 20th century Balkan and European realities. In the context of powers’ re-arrangements this status quo leads to new stereotypes. Europe has waited the Ottoman Empire’s fall for over two centuries and now erases it from the map. The inextricably bounded with this process Balkan peoples one by one leave the shadow of the dark and start to live on their own way, looking for their identity throughout the glimpse of Europe.