A Discussion on the Bulgarian Literary and Publishing Landscape
This two-part discussion looks at Bulgarian literature, publishing, its challenges, how it exists as a peripheral space and how people resist those challenges through new forms of inventive publishing. Departing from an anecdote about a pivotal shift in the Bulgarian literary context that took place in 2016, the authors reflect on the historical context to elaborate how this came to be and highlight the significance of numerous contemporary experimental, resistant, and non-traditional publishing practices.
These audio episodes are part of Peripheral Visions.
Bulgarian Literary and Publishing Landscape, Part 1
In the first part of the discussion, the participants focus on the peripheral role that Bulgarian writing has had in a world context. In order to clarify its marginality and peripherality, the participants reflect on several pivotal moments in recent history with the help of the observations and criticisims of a key figure in Bulgarian literary theory, Nikola Georgiev. Although of major importance, Georgiev's work is barely known outside of Bulgaria and has hardly been translated to other languages (with some problematic attempts also being outlined in the discussion). As an intervention in this direction, there is both a longer quote of his read in Bulgarian and English during this part of the discussion that help to frame it, as well as a resulting text published from a transcription of this discussion (in both a shorter abridged and a longer version with more extensive references and links). There is also a reference and links list below that should supply listeners and readers with as many resources as possible.
With the help of Georgiev's ideas, we take a look at the heavily interlinked relationship that the Bulgarian publishing system has had with the Bulgarian university system, and see how new forms of peripherality have been introduced in this context in recent years – in contrast to the hopes of the opposite of previous decades. As a consequence, however, myriad practices of autonomous and experimental writing have emerged, and, in the second part of this discussion, we will look at many of these examples and their impacts.
Bulgarian Literary and Publishing Landscape, Part 2
*Samizdat (20.03), which literally means "self-published," historically played an important role in the former communist countries of Eastern Europe. Once a form of distributing literature banned by the state, these grassroots practices created a certain aesthetic and approach referred to in this discussion in relation to later historical periods.
*In the discussion, the reference to literary theorist Wolfgang Schlemming (28:04), should instead be Manfred Schmeling. For the exact quote, see either the "Einleitung" referenced below or the exact quote outlined in the text linked to the right (an abridged version of the discussion transcript).
"Einleitung," (1995), in: Hendrik Birus, Manfred Schmeling, Rüdiger Schmitt (eds.) Weltliteratur Heute: Konzepte und Perspektiven, Königshausen & Neumann: Würzburg, pp. ix-xii.
Georgiev, Nikola. (1995). "Die Ehe der Literatur mit dem Welt: Weltliteratur zwischen Utopie und Heteotopiein: Hendrik Birus, Manfred Schmeling, Rüdiger Schmitt (eds.), Weltliteratur Heute: Konzepte und Perspektiven, Königshausen & Neumann: Würzburg, 1995, pp. 75–84.
[Available in Bulgarian here: https://liternet.bg/publish/ngeorgiev/m_s/zhen.htm]
Georgiev, Nikola. (1999). Mnenia i Samnenia: Po Dirite na Edno Literaturovedsko Chergarstvo [Opinions and Doubts: Following the Trails of a Critical Nomadism], Literaturen Vestnik: Sofia
[Available in Bulgarian here: https://liternet.bg/publish/ngeorgiev/m_s/prilozhnost.htm]
Kristeva, Julia. (2000). "Bulgaria, My Suffering," trans. Susan Fairfield. Crisis of the European Subject, Other Press: New York, pp. 163–185.
Social center-related publishing platforms (after 2008):
KOI Books: https://koi-bg.org/izdania/ (the publishing leg of what is now Collective of Social Interventions – some of the books were published initially by Anarres).
Books: https://www.anarresbooks.org – which was then associated with Social Center Adelante, which is now called Fabric Avtonomia.
Collective for Social Interventions
Music and arts platforms mentioned:
Comfort Club zine by Amek collective: https://amekcollective.bandcamp.com/merch/comfort-club-1-zine
Ninja Squad (Gabrovo)