‘Are you not somewhat Bulgar with your bowels?’ Maria Todorova, author of the international bestseller Imagining the Balkans , prolific writer on the history of Southeastern Europe and untiring editor in the field of memory studies, has published a massive volume with a smart, yet equivocal title: The “contested bones” the book deals with are not just metaphorical but also concrete ones. The story is about the life, death and afterlife of Vasil Levski (1837–1873), the patriotic icon in Bulgaria’s modern history. Yet it is also about the bitter controversy on where his remains lie—a controversy carried out by intellectuals and scholars in late-communist Bulgaria. As cryptic as the colored book cover is, its subtitle is even more so; I am not quite sure what a “living archive” actually is, and the author’s scant explanations (ix–x) are not particularly helpful. Obviously it intends to be a conglomerate of various kinds of data, documents and information with a certain importance for the present. Yet it is exactly the vagueness of this approach which allows the author to bring together under one roof three rather different stories united only by the figure of Levski: Firstly, the controversy on the location
Southeastern Europe – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2012
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