The origins and ancient literature. – According to topschoolsintheusa, Bulgarian literature is both the oldest and the youngest of the Slavic literatures. The oldest, if we take into account its first written monuments, which date back to the time of the adoption of the Slavic script (see Cyrillics, characters and Glagolitics, characters), which in its first origin shortly follows the conversion of King Boris (865) and the Slavization of the Proto-Bulgarians; the youngest, if we consider the beginning of a real continuous literary movement, with content and purpose of art, a beginning that no longer falls beyond the middle of the last century. The preceding centuries can essentially be considered, in regard to literature, rather as centuries of prehistory than of true literary history.
During this long period all the written literary production that the Bulgarian people offers us is summarized in a series of translations and adaptations from the Greek of Holy Scriptures, liturgical texts, lives of saints; compilations of apologetic letters, sermons, sermons, and some dry chronicles. Such is the state of literature in Bulgaria even in the times of. maximum political splendor of the Bulgarian Empire during the so-called “golden age” of Tsar Simeon (10th century), a staunch defender not only of the material and military power of his people, but also of their moral and spiritual values.
Of the representatives of this literature, the few names that are still remembered, among those of the writers who rose to greater fame at the time, are, in addition to the names of Cyril and Methodius and their disciple Clement: Bishop Constantine, author among other things of the first early Bulgarian poetic attempt (the Azbu è na Molitva, Alphabetical Prayer, in the Pou è itelno Evangelie, Moralized Gospel); Tsar Simeone, himself a compiler of various collections of religious and varied content; John the Exarch, author of philosophical theological compilations, translations and speeches; Černorizec Hrabăr, apologist for national literature; the presbyter Kozma, preacher, patriot, flogger of national defects, avid adversary, as a century after Metropolitan Ilarion Măglenski, of Bogomilism; and a few others. But one would look in vain for an art content in the writings of all of them; the only partial exception can perhaps be considered the apocryphals, which, reworking arguments of predominantly religious history and legend in a popular form without an author’s name, drawn mostly from Byzantine texts, often rise to a higher level than most of the other written productions of the weather.
The power and political independence of the state are not enough, even in moments of greater affirmation, to create favorable conditions for a true cultural increase in general and literary in particular. The weak, unstable, insufficient culture of the whole Balkan Peninsula and the still too rough state of the language, unsuitable for superior manifestations of art, hinder this increase. Everything that feeds Bulgarian culture in general in this period, and naturally even more so in the period of Greek political domination, comes from Byzantium. Nor did the strong cultural centralization in Tărnovo during the second Bulgarian empire much help. In this period too the interest, sterile but formalistic, for religious questions prevailed. The singular figure of the monk and patriarch Euthymius deserves attention, for his work around the correction of church texts and for his fight against Bogomilism and other heresies, and his pupil Grigorij Camblak, who dictated a eulogy and a biography of the master. However, a Western text also reached Bulgaria through the Croatian and Serbian regions: the Trojan legend.
The Ottoman domination, which lasted five centuries, suppressing any possible civil and intellectual development in the country, segregating the population from any contact with the world, also stifled any further possibility of literary production. The monasteries remain isolated flames of elementary culture. The Turkish ruler, devoid of his own culture, assumes an attitude of complete apathy in the face of the intellectual and spiritual life of the vanquished.
The first flashes of rebirth. – The first hearths of the rebirth were the monasteries in Bulgaria: especially those of Hilendar and Zograf on Mount Athos and that of Rila. From one of these monasteries, and precisely from that of Hilendar, he left in the second half of the century. XVIII the first call for recovery: the Istorija slavenobolgarskaja za b ă lgarskija narod, b ă lgarski car ě i sveci (Slavobulgarian history for the Bulgarian people, for the Bulgarian kings and saints), written in 1762 by his father Paisij, who recalled for the first time, in an elevated form and pervaded by a high patriotic spirit, the exploits of the ancestors to remind the Bulgarians that they were Bulgarians, to exhort them to be proud of it, to admonish them to make themselves worthy. The beneficial fruits of this book, albeit at a distant expiration, were the awakening of consciences, the call to reality, the preparation for the future.
The literary movement in fact goes hand in hand with the awakening of consciences. After Father Paisij’s Story, while this still circulates in manuscript among the Bulgarians, other much more modest books speak, like this one, to the national consciousness of the people: they are some translations of a disciple of Paisij himself, Bishop Sofronij Vračanski, and one of his Kirjakodromion, written during the exile in Romania and published in 1806. This is the first Bulgarian book to be printed. Other books are printed in the first decades of the same century. XIX: modest works of general culture and translations. Of particular importance were Pietro Beron’s Abbecedary (1824), which was the first elementary instruction book for the young Bulgarian generation, the Bulgarian grammar of his father Neofit Rilski, and the manual of general knowledge of his father Neofit Hilendarski. Meanwhile, in his sermons, Father Neofit Bosveli warmly advocated the independence of the church, attracting persecutions from Greeks and Turks. In 1835 Vasil E. Aprilov founded in his native Gabrovo, together with Palauzov and various others, the first Bulgarian school and wrote himself on grammar and various subjects.