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Elin Pelin – great narrator of country life

Photo: lostbulgaria.com

Elin Pelin is One of the most talented and popular Bulgarian writers. His works take us back to the beginning of the 20th century. His realistic characters are appealing to readers and it seems the social issues he depicted in his works are valid even nowadays. Recently Bulgaria marked the 135th anniversary since the birth of the poet.

© Photo: Nikolai Metev

We met with Anna Tsvetkova – librarian in the Elin Pelin community center in the native village of the writer – Bailovoр who brought us more about his life. 
“Dimitar Ivanov Stoyanov was born in 1877 in Bailovo near Sofia. The future writer grew in a family that greatly respected education. As a teenager Dimitar wanted to become an artists but he was not admitted to the drawing school. As a student he started writing poems and chose his pen name Elin Pelin, which has a reference to a Bulgarian folk song and sounds nice. It was in his native village of Bailovo where Elin Pelin wrote his first major works.”

Elin Pelin spent some time teaching in his native village but decided to go to the big city. He became a teacher in one of the Sofia high schools before specializing in France. After his return to Bulgaria he worked in the National Library in Sofia. In 1940 he became a member of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and a chairman of the Union of Bulgarian Writers.

The writer continued writing poems, children’s books, and articles. Elin Pelin became a favorite writer to children with his book about the fantastic adventures of Yan Bibian.

Elin Pelin is regarded by experts as a master of the short story. In his works he often depicts the clash between traditional rural values and the new city life. The works of the Bulgarian writer have been translated into more than 40 languages. Despite his popularity Elin Pelin never forgot his native village. “It was in my native village where I learned our beautiful language and I heard Bulgarian music. It was there where I began to know our hard-working people and the benevolent soul of the Bulgarian,” he once wrote.

“Elin Pelin based most of his characters on actual people from the village of Bailovo. The writer loved to walk in the fields and forests and talk to people. He then used their stories in his works. When he was a teacher in his village, people used to gather in the evening to listen to Elin Pelin read his new stories, in which they often found themselves.”

The house of Elin Pelin in Bailovo was restored and opened for tourists in 1977. In Bailovo today tourists can find an exhibition dedicated to the life and work of Elin Pelin. For the 135th anniversary since the birth of the poet a festive concert was organised in Bailovo. Another initiative was a literary competition in which more than 200 short stories by writes from all over Bulgaria took part.

Today Elin Pelin’s works remain popular and sound contemporary. As the writer himself once said: “I am mostly interested in people and their fate.” 

English version: Alexander Markov

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