The launch of our new book “Balkan Narratives”took place on October 11, 2019, at the “Philipp Kutev” Hall in the Union of Bulgarian Composers. It is a translation of an earlier book by Academician Katitsa Kyulavkova in Bulgarian language. This study of hers offers us a long, deep, historical and literary, but in her words - yet incomplete narrative about the Balkans, Balkan mentality, archetypes, models, identities, about the Balkan world in itself and for the Balkans in worldviews. The place we live in, but whose name today is not just a geographical topography, but also much more a kind of metaphor, a symbol, even a landmark, in most cases, unfortunately with a negative connotation.
Balkan Narratives is a complex text, a contemporary metanarrative that offers a new key to the confusing and often tragic Balkan history, a new reading of the enigmatic Balkan world, it’s spirituality, it’s cultural contribution to World’s and European history. As the author points out, this book, created over the years, is open and incomplete, simply “… because the story of the Balkans (in tales, events, phenomena) is not finished. The history of the peninsula is not one, not the only, as is its narrator ... The history of the Balkans and its narrators are confronted with the many perspectives through which the narrative is focused and contextualized ...”
This narrative is undoubtedly colourful, vivid, filled with unexpected interpretations and re-evaluations of facts and events, viewed from a more ubiquitous height, allowing the Balkan picture to be "cleared" of irrelevant details and blurring judgments of ambiguity. The ambition is to demystify the Balkan puzzle, or as the author calls it - the "knot", and to return to some of the original, archetypal concepts brought to us and to the common places of memory, and hence to intercultural dialogue in our multi-ethnic and multicultural topos.
The book's premiere was attended by Academician Taki Fiki, current chairman of MANU (Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts), academician Vlado Kambovski, former chairman of MANU, Academician Vladimir Kostic, chairman of SANU / SANI (Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts) , Academician George Borozan, Vice-President of Montenegrian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Marjan Gyorchev - Ambassador to Sofia of the Northern Republic of Macedonia, Sashko Nasev, Director of the Cultural and Information Center of the Northern Republic of Macedonia, Elka Traikova, Director of the Institute of Literature, BAS, scientists from related institutes, representatives of the Balkan Culture Section, IBST at the BAS, writers, publishers and just friends of good readings.
The author signed the books gifted to everybody by the publisher.
Yordanka Bibina, publisher and editor, presented the book and emphasized that the messages in it is also a kind of proposal to overcome historically inherited hatred and strife of our small but turbulent peninsula, and thus - the negative stereotypes that stifle, the pursuit of understanding and a glimpse into the future. At the same time, the study is a warning of the dangers of new possible reshapes and divisions, fragmenting not only national borders but also identity borders in the Balkans.
The publication of this book is in the public interest in the development of Bulgarian-Macedonian relations. It views the Balkans through the writers' perspective, through the prism of the Balkan regional cultural cooperation, and the intercultural strategy as a form of economy.
The translator of the book Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mariana Stamova shared her main motivation to undertake this difficult task, namely, the conviction that "a different view suggested by the author in a more interdisciplinary discourse involving folklore, myths, stereotypes, topos, identities, literary works with a deep theoretical basis in semiotics, would be extremely useful to look at the "Other", in a broader view of the current situation and to consider it in a wider context.”
In her speech, the author, Academician Katitsa Kyulavkova, shared that the book “Balkan Narratives” is composed by analyzes and essays, written over last fifteen years. This is not a monographic study but a collection of thematically co-ordinated essays across the Balkan topos: "… This book deals primarily with the interpretation of Balkan realities and paradigms in terms of literature, and several well-known myths about the Balkans. It is about the myth of heroism and loyalty of the epic hero Odysseus and about the epic fidelity of Penelope. Destroying these epic and cultural stereotypes in Homer's works, I have shown that they are not perfect and that they in fact, point to the opposite nature (irony, grotesque): Odysseus is not an ideal hero, but a hero in one situation and a violent in another. (Nor is Penelope a black-and-white image of marital faithfulness. On the contrary, strict social canons and codes have been hidden behind mythical and epic images. This conflict between idealization, the simplification of reality and brutality, and the complexity of reality, "It is a fertile ground for cultural hermeneutics in the Balkans," she said.