Literary classics lure readers in Sofia’s central City Garden

Photo: Yoan Kolev

Opening of new book hubs is always a gift to readers. This phenomenon suggests that interest in books has been revived and despite their busy lives Bulgarians still have a taste for reading something new and refreshing.

The bookstore that we have in mind though is a bit different. Its name is Rodolyubie (Patriotism) and its home is a kiosk rescued from the threat of being recycled. It is located in Sofia’s oldest park – the City Garden. It was not chosen for nothing – in fact, the kiosk was the place where from the first streetcar in the city was launched on 1 January 1900. The initiative for the new home of books is credited to the Vasil Levski All-National Committee. Its Chairman Vassil Vassilev explains:

„The profit from the bookstore goes for financing the Vasil Levski Committee and the Hristo Botev Foundation. The mission of the Committee has always been to perpetuate the legacy and explain the bequest and ideals of the Apostle of Freedom Vasil Levski. The idea of the bookstore is to react to the attempts to distort Bulgarian history, to make it ‘sugary’ and ‘ennoble’ it to serve political interests. In both history and literature textbooks we have seen major negative changes. Some of them are outrageous and people can only see them by referring to the originals.”

Bulgarians need literature created during the National Revival which can help them revisit the bequest of the forefathers and help them understand history in its authentic form, Vassilev contends. He gives an example: this year alone when Bulgaria marks the 180th birth anniversary of Vassil Levski, 50 new books have been released about the life and work of the Apostle but they are hard to find in bookstores. So he has decided that this bookstore should only offer documentary literature, biographies and emblematic works by writers and poets such as classics Ivan Vazov, Hristo Botev and Luben Karavelov who present an objective outlook on events during the National Revival (18-19 c.) till the Liberation from Ottoman rule in 1878.

The Vasil Levski All-National Committee has been working hard to help Bulgarian communities abroad stay in touch with the Motherland. This is related to the forthcoming exhibition that the Committee has been preparing. It is going to present the life and work of Vasil Levski to the children in Bulgarian schools abroad. It is organized with the financial assistance of the Ministry of Culture and will include nine portraits of Vasil Ivanov Kounchev which feature Levski, as the people call him, as a revolutionary. Apart from them pupils will be able to see a few boards recounting the biography and bequest of the great national hero.

Vassil Vassilev says that his talks and meetings with the Bulgarians abroad make him optimistic that some of them may return to the Motherland one day because they experience intense homesickness. Bulgaria however has for the time being failed to create the respective conditions for their return. Nevertheless some of them are back to their home country starting something new despite various problems - and this is worth the respect of society.

English Daniela Konstantinova

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