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Abstract Nadezhda Alexandrova

For the Bulgarian intellectuals of the 19th century the metaphor of “infancy” refers to the character of their national literature, born under Ottoman oppression in the southeastern part of Europe. It is often used to describe the skillfulness and style of the first Bulgarian women authors and to justify the necessity of mentorship. The asymmetrical power structure between men-of-letters and the women writers results in the representation of the discourse of women’s writing in the manner of a pedagogical exercise. My claim is that the critical amnesia to the achievements of the Bulgarian women authors of the 19th century - which still exists in Bulgarian culture today - is not so much a result of the insufficient development of literary skillfulness or to territorial/political insignificance. It is rather due to the shortage of public discourses on women’s authorship and feminist criticism during the 19th century.

In regards to the metaphor of “infancy” in my presentation, I will observe the difference between the numbers of women who translated foreign literature and those of women who wrote original works. Furthermore, in the biographies of several writers such as Stanka Nikolitza Spasso-Elenina, Anasstasia Tosheva, Ekaterina Karavelova, Vela Blagoeva and Evgenia Mars, I will try to show the channels through which the international literary currents were utilized in accordance with the nation-building imperative of the homemade canon.

AsK, October 2012

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