‘I Know that One Should Write about you Reservedly and Simply’: an Unknown Correspondence between Ivan Bunin and Bulgarian Literary Critic Malcho Nikolov
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Abstract: The present publication acquaints the reader with the hitherto unknown correspondence in 1931 and 1951 between the Nobel Laureate Ivan Bunin and the Bulgarian literary critic Malcho Nikolov (1883–1962). The letters were found in the private collections of the literary figures in the Leeds (UK) and Sofia (Bulgaria) archives. Here they are published from the original texts in modernised orthography and with extensive annotations. In addition, the context of their creation has been restored. The work follows the Bulgarian national tradition of critical and scientific reception of Bunin’s works, which was initiated in 1920 by Professor Boyan Penev of Sofia University. This tradition was further developed by his disciple Malcho Nikolov, who was, in the words of P. Bicilli, ‘an excellent connoisseur of Russian literature’and ‘a great admirer’of Bunin’s talent. Nikolov considered Bunin his ‘most favourite author’. In 1926–1950s, he wrote three articles which likewise remained unknown until the present. These publications form an integrated text about Bunin, which preserves and transmits knowledge about the writer as a creator belonging to eternal art. The desire to come into contact with the author arose from a deep comprehension and emotional experience of Bunin’s creative work. Whereas Bunin was somewhat detached from this correspondence and it demonstrated a view of the correspondent through the Slavophile prism of tribal connectedness, Nikolov’s childlike admiration and excitement were the result of reasoning love and a developed conception of Bunin’s creative work. Bunin and Nikolov’s correspondence became not only an exchange of letters and gifts between two people ‘related by blood’ (in Bunin’s words) and by literary occupation, but also an exchange of symbols of Memory between individuals in solidarity. The publication of this text on the Nobel Laureate’s anniversary makes its indubitable contribution to Bunin studies.
Key words: RUSSIAN LITERATURE; RUSSIAN WRITERS; LITERARY CREATION; LITERARY CRITICISM; LITERARY CRITICS; CORRESPONDENCE; EPISTOLARY GENRE.
Petkova, G. (2020).‘I Know that One Should Write about you Reservedly and Simply’: an Unknown Correspondence between Ivan Bunin and Bulgarian Literary Critic Malcho Nikolov. In Philological Class. 2020. Vol. 25 ⋅ №2. P. 33-47. DOI 10.26170/FK20-02-03.