Vera Mutafchieva
Academician , PhD in History, researcher, author and journalist


Chronicle of the Time of Unrest, volume 1

In the autumn of 1762, just like in every autumn, strong winds blew from the sea. They brought heavy dampness, still warm from the summer, and they spread it everywhere. That is why ink dried up slowly; letters gleamed for long before you turned over the sheet of paper. While you waited, there was ample time to stretch a leg, you were stiff with cold anyway.

The door slammed shut. Footsteps faded in the hallway. Inside, it was dusky with one bright spot – from the window. There, the handwritten sheet lay drying…

Someone had collected in a small book the long, forgotten history of their people. And it was written by the ancestors of the rayah and of rebels, of Mohammedans and janissaries. They had lived and were long gone. The memory of the people remained.

Kurdjalii Times, volume 2

In order for this confidence to develop another feature of the ‘kurdjalii times’was at play, which was not present in the period preceding or following the anarchy: the interaction between Turks and Bulgarians. The antagonism between Christians and Muslims, typical for the period of Ottoman rule on the Balkans, the antagonism, deliberately and profitably incited by the rulers, the legalized discrimination against the oppressed and their legitimate hatred against the oppressor – all this lost its irreconcilable intensity in the course of two or three decades. 

Why? – we have to ask. And after the depiction of life at that time the answer will be simple: at the end of the ХVІІІth and the beginning of the ХІХth century social issues acquired such an importance that they took the place of ethnic concerns. It was a matter of bread, of a roof over one’s head, of peace – in short, a matter of survival.

I, Аnna Comnena * The Knight, volume 3

The only real thing was the sheet of paper before my eyes, the black lines – at times slow, at times impatient, generous to me with their joy and sorrow. Now I can say with a certainty I paid for in advance: prose does not reflect life – it is a separate, parallel, complete life. It has a life of its own, independent even from the author.

I, Аnna Comnena, knew well the protagonists in my work; I had my own opinion and judgment about them. Why then, did they appear in the chronicle with other faces and qualities and deeds, different from themselves?...

History shows with great precision when I was born – at sunrise on December 2, 183 – but the year of my death is not known. This remains entirely my own business. By the way, you are at liberty to think that I am still amongst you.

Why are they clanking and why is fur flying? –he asked himself. – Why do men need to play at war and struggle (this is in fact every fight), when it is everywhere and it its genuine harsh and wonderful variety? The struggle with God who is within you, the struggle for earthly happiness…

A true knight does not just simply act: he dedicates his deeds to somebody.

The Djem Affair, volume 4

„Not only is the world big — was I going to sing, — it is also hostile. Hide from it in a motherland, in a town, in a home; cordon off a small piece of the big world to master it and make it warm; find yourself a craftsman, a fish, a deed; have children. Hold on to something amongst the infinite flow of time, amongst the infiniteness of the universe. Adopt one truth as your own. “

This is what I would sing to people if I can find the words. Maybe then will Dzhem stop haunting me in his perfect solitude. It sounds a bit unfair when I say that I paid for this song with thirteen years. In fact, Dzhem paid for it. With his life.

Ottoman Socio-Economic History, volume 5

If we have to sum up the interpretation of the social and economic history in our (and not only our) literature we will notice that to a great extent it reiterates the interpretation of some Turkish historiographical works, where the predominant thesis is: the Ottoman Empire had a strict, consistent, omni-permeating centralism, and more specifically etatism, which made it from a social perspective the most balanced state system which existed in Europe.

In the name of truth we have to note that it is not solely that influence which led Ottoman Science to draw conclusions, some of which expounded above –written sources also point to that direction. It is well known that apart from the chronicles, they are all part of the state archive.

A book on Sophronious * The Trial 1873 * Unity makes strength, volume 6

Let that book be one of many that Bulgarian posterity owes to Reverend Stoiko…

His whole life Sophronious devoted to deeds which could easily have been done by another, while Sophronious could have been writing short stories. But it is hardly by chance that they were not done by somebody else. As is hardly by happenstance that someone else could have died on Vola, while Botev could have been writing volume after volume and would have set not only a shining example, but also created a wide basis for modern poetry. This is what sets great talent apart: responsibility, the feeling for duty, the fulfillment of that duty.

If there only existed some unknown way to amplify, to bring within hearing the heartbeat of all participants in that voiceless picture! It would sound like a dense peal, similar to a bell tower – a multitude of bells which the angered people ring in the call for rebellion. Ring – ring, ring ring – an alarming call, signaling that all bridges towards peace have been torn down, that people have been called to arms and that there were only two outcomes: freedom or death!

Who is Dimitar Obshti?

- Sir, didn’t you have someone from Vetren under your command? Stoyan… My son…
And the mother walked past… she questioned and is still questioning everyone she meets about her Stoyan. Whose grave in Slivnitza was already leveled by the snow. This did not originate with me. Vazov wrote it. In the sense that every victory – fateful, fruitful – leaves in its wake childless mothers, orphaned children.
And above the merry, mindless from the wine and praise crowd the song from Vazov was hovering again – unbearably mightily…

Foretold by Pagane * Belote for two hands, volume 7

I assure you that people do not realize the severity of those moments, called by later chroniclers historic, if people take a personal part in them. Thus, the morning I am going to recount started the same way as many other days. Only Khan Asparuh will have been aware that something crucial and decisive was imminent.

No-one would have had the insight that this beautiful and active, acknowledged and useful woman carried within herself three other women – one dead, one who took revenge for the dead, and one happy woman.

Clio is also a muse * The Wide World, volume 8

“Oh, Muse, glorify the anger of Achilles, son of Peleus!...” Before Herodotus history was in verse, it had a voice. But why was she preoccupied with anger, one state of man?

The ancient Greeks knew many things, which complicated mankind forgets: that there is nothing more important for man than man himself, for instance.

I would like to warn the reader: this book is not travel writing, although I cannot really define its genre.  Maybe – it’s a declaration of love…

If we are fortunate enough after our death for our freed from gravitation energy to embark on an endless journey in the universe, to get to know many, many more worlds, without making haste, because it will have all the Time in the world, my soul – as they say – will certainly and repeatedly go back to the Blue planet. With sorrow and laughter.

Family Saga * Unraveling my Father * The Bombs, volume 9

It is only now that I realize how humble, with no trace of spite towards their everyday hardships old people at that time were. Which means – wise. And because life did not offer them anything good for free, they had the knack of inventing good things for themselves. My grandmother for instance found joy in motion – untypical for women then...

All my relatives who avoided talking about grandma have long joined her. Would they like it if we forgot their names...

It is only now that I realize why we didn’t see much of my father: he had to choose between tobacco and us, he opted for tobacco. And how did he manage to survive his two-hour long lectures? Otherwise he smoked in the street without stopping.

I made up my mind to be strong. And brave. I assumed I would face difficulties which I would hopefully overcome. During the month when Bulgaria finally genuinely mourned thousands killed in basements and fields, tens of thousands tortured, widowed, orphaned in the long and silent civil war, all other difficulties seemed trifling.

Reactions* Journalism and Inteviews, volume 10

I present the reader with documents about how people reacted to certain public events and phenomena in the course of twenty years. I have a warning: they are marked by subjectivism and bias. I let the reader be the judge of when and which document is unbiased – that would be interesting but completely untrue.

The still short-lived freedom of the press made it possible to publish the materials here without the intervention of the editor. That is why I left out the interviews – usually directed and not always correctly interpreted. I left a few in because of the serious objections which they raised, containing gloomy forecasts.

Owing to the duty I feel as an individual who lived through the latest transition I would like to turn to my colleagues and say: please write! Publish or leave to reliable people and places your reactions – feelings and participation, hopes, stressful moments and disappointments... this is the task of the chronicler, without whom historiography loses its substance.

Occurrences І * Occurrences ІІ, volume 11

I was born on March 28 at five past nine. In the month of Mars, the day of Jupiter, the hour of Venus…

In the summer of 1930 I uttered my first words. I said: “lid, stone” instead of mummy, grandma, daddy. And then I kept silent for a long time. Two months later I expressed a desire “Run naked, run barefoot!” Again I fell silent. Those words somehow gave comfort to my parents that I was not deaf and dumb.

I am sure no-one will believe me: I dreamt a dream which pre-destined my future. Possibly the desire to devote to studying the Orient was lurking in my mind. In my dream it loomed large with a kind of unbelievable magnificence, with a dangerously alluring mysteriousness. Accompanied by unknown letters. And words – I often dream written words and texts. I woke up with a firm decision to study Arabic. No other exotic idea came to my mind.

Occurrences ІІІ * Curious Occurrences, volume 12

Thank you, God, that you have preconditioned me to feel joy each moment, free from worry. Well, you gave me not just one moment, but a long time which I remember with sorrowful relish. It is perhaps easier for those who look upon the surrounding world with equal discontent, with reproach and protest, but in the beginning I had made up my mind to be happy and kept my word. 

A short confession: I have long wanted to write something funny.

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