To Chicago and Back

In 1894, Bulgarian writer Aleko Konstantinov published a book describing his travels to the Chicago World’s Fair (officially known as The World’s Columbian Exposition). To Chicago and Back inspired many Bulgarians not only to travel internationally, but to travel and even emigrate to Chicago specifically. For years, the U.S. city with the highest number of … Continue reading To Chicago and Back

Language Difficulties

Anyone attempting to learn Bulgarian (or Russian or Kazakh or Mongolian, for that matter) might well ask—as I do—why the Bulgarians thought they needed a new alphabet when they could have just used one of the already existing alphabets to write their language. I can never get quite a satisfactory answer, but of course it’s … Continue reading Language Difficulties

Book Archeology at 37 Han Krum Street

We had been living in our rented apartment at 37 Han Krum in Sofia for some time before I paid much attention to the bookshelves the owner had left behind. Then one day, I began examining and sorting them out. They were published during the period 1950-1990. In some way, they represented Bulgaria during these … Continue reading Book Archeology at 37 Han Krum Street

The Crossroads Between East and West

It is a commonplace to describe innumerable cities and even countries in this part of the world as “the crossroads between East and West.” Bulgaria is one of those laying claim to that geographical and cultural locus. Rudyard Kipling famously wrote “Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,” … Continue reading The Crossroads Between East and West

Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum and Café, Part I

On November 10, 1877, Karl Marx interrupted his work on Das Kapital to write a letter to German journalist, historian, and politician Wilhelm Blos. Neither he nor Engels cared at all about popularity, he wrote. “Let me cite one proof of this: such was my aversion to the personality cult that at the time of … Continue reading Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum and Café, Part I