"Bulgarian" Books: The Contrary Cases of Stanislavov, Zheferovic and Paisy Hilendarski
The so-called Bulgarian revival took place from the writing and distribution of Paisy of Hilendar's Slavo-Bulgarian History (1762), a book which attempted to resuscitate a concept of Bulgarian nationhood and the fortunes of a suppressed national church. However, Bulgarian book historians like Kutinchev and Petar Atanassov also claim the works Abagar by Philip Stanislavov’s (1651) and Zheferovic’s ’s Stematografia (1741) as being a reexpression of a Bulgarian identity, despite the fact that Stanislavov was a Catholic not an orthodox bishop, publishing a religious work in a Bulgarian variant of Slavonic, while Zheferovic - who actually identifies himself as Bulgarian - was printing a work containing the saints and heralds of all 'Illyrian' nations, and was funded by Viennese Serbs. Nevertheless, the paper will show that scepticism about nationalist interpretations of these books, along the lines set out in Benedict Anderson's 'Imagined Communities', must be tempered by the fact that Paisy's own work presents a very strong sense of Bulgarian national identity at a time when there was no recognised Bulgarian nation, nor even local cyrillic printing and schoolbooks. The paper will also seek to demonstrate that although the two earlier works are not part of a conscious 'Bulgarian revival', they nevertheless demonstrate a conscious Bulgarian identity under conditions which Anderson presumed not to encourage such feelings.
Keywords: Bulgaria, Ottoman, Orthodox, Catholic, nationalism, Serbia, Macedonia
Dr. Matthew Gibson Gibson
Lecturer, Culture, Media and Communication, University of Surrey