In this case we will focus on the text “Critic and Translator”, published after his death by his son Kiril Prlichev in book 2 of the magazine Makedonski pregled from 1928. In order to introduce the event, we should mention Prlicev’s translation of the Iliad, which was made at the invitation of the Constantinople magazine Chitalishte in 1870, and published in 1871 (Chitalishte, book 11, 337-344; Chitalishte, book 13: 385 -390). The translation was received with daggers drawn, with accusations of arbitrariness in the language, mutilation of the original, ignorance of the Bulgarian language and other accusations made by N. Bonchev, Gj. Karavelov and H. Botev. G. Prlichev was broken, as noted in several places in his Autobiography, the essay “The Dream of an Old Man” and in the aforementioned entry “Critic and Translator”.

The the last text, exactly, refers specifically to the translation activity and the attitude of the critic towards it. G. Prlichev was “killed” by the negative reviews of his work on the translation of the Iliad, so we can see this entry of his as a confession on the occasion of the offended ego and the deadened spirit of the brilliant poet. In fact, we can see the text as an internal dialogue of G. Prlichev, whose mind has put itself in the role of a translator trying to do its job, overcoming obstacles in language, metrics and dryness of expression, but also in the role of a critic strictly following the abbreviations, the use and finding of new terms by of the translator.

The critic’s questions and remarks move within the following framework: “you should translate faithfully: the purpose of the Iliad is to oppose the West against the East; the Sea against the Sun, Hellenism against barbarism… “, “Lesy we do not shout in vain, first determine for me what you mean by the word fidelity: fidelity in letters or fidelity in spirit?”, “Under the influence of which idea did you translate it into such a language?”, “Why didn’t you use the article”, “Why do you say ‘ja’ (я) instead of ‘az’ (азъ)?“, “Is it possible to change the 17-syllable verse to a 10-syllable?”, etc.

Prlichev answers the questions and remarks clearly and energetically, convinced of the correctness of his translation procedure. The purpose was to present the Iliad to the Slavs easily readable and understandable, for which Prlichev intended to prepare a short general Slavic grammar. He was aware that he was introducing news, which showed that he was ahead of time. He answers some questions in detail and with extensive explanations, and he answers some succinctly. Such are the examples with the questions about the use of “ja”, instead of “az”, where he elaborated on the reasons for such a procedure, while, when asked why he did not use an article, he answered briefly: “I did not need it”. Finally, at the remark: “Do you know the cruelty of the uneducated Bulgarian critique?” He replies: “Yes. I know that it drowned many talents in their first bloom” (Пърличевъ, 1928: 114).[1] And that is the final conclusion we can draw from the text “Critic and Translator” by G. Prlichev. That is the main point, the real goal and the only reason for this inner dialogue of the disappointed poet. Explaining the way the translator should approach the work, the author allowed himself to be a critic of criticism, a regulator of language, a bearer of novelties, “unlike his critics who start from conservative and, so to speak, outdated understandings of Homeric poetry.” (Митевски, 2008: 118).[2] However, despite the fierce defense against the critic’s attacks, it seems that Prlichev has already sung his swan song. Therefore, we can see this text as a slow departure of the poet from literature. For Prlichev, the story of sublime poetic achievements and easy-to-understand translations was already over. This is what our famous poet wants to say in the text “Critic and Translator”.


On the author’s authority over the critic: the Dejkov Case

            The episode with Ioan (Ivan) Dejkov (ca. 1830, Prilep – ?) can serve as an example of the strength of the author’s authority over the critic. It stars Dejkov (as a critic), the famous Bulgarian writer Ivan Vazov (as a subject of criticizm) and the Bulgarian socialist and pedagogue Atanas Iliev (as a mediator).

Ioan Dejkov, also signed as Ivan Dejkov, was a teacher and director of the Prilep high school, collector of folklore, translator and literary critic. He acquired basic literacy in his hometown, after which he went to further education at the Petropavlovsk Seminary in Russia. For some time he collaborated with Marko Cepenkov in collecting folklore, and according to Cepenkov’s testimonies, he probably wrote original works as well: “of that he told me, that he also wrote poems and he wrote them in truth” (Цепенков, 1980: 335). In addition, Dejkov was a collaborator of the Russian Geographical Society in St. Petersburg, where in 1889 he was awarded a silver medal of the Society for the manuscript “Folk Songs and Tales, Recorded in Prilep”. From Dejkov’s remaining literary work, we will state that he translated the first volume of Fundamentals of Elementary Psychology (it is not stated from which language). This volume was 215 pages long and appeared in 1897. Earlier, in 1896, Daykov together with Todor K. Tanev translated Records of Pedagogy by Ivan Vasilevich Skvortsov, on 166 pages (Tocinovski, 2005: 197).

[1] Prlichev could not remain indifferent to the satirical verses of H. Botev addressed to him in the poem „Зошто не сум?…“: „Защо не съм и Пърличев, / да преведа Илияда, но с такъв превод, за който / и лобут да ми се пада?“ (Ботев, 1980: 62).

[2] On this occasion, the words of Mr. Stardelov seem appropriate to us. Stardelov: “The history of poetry and the history of criticism show us that it is in the criticism of poetry that not only stellar moments of criticism are realized, but also its fundamental critical falls through which epochal misses and almost insurmountable poetic and critical misconceptions are realized” (Stardelov, 1985: 378).

AuthorSlavcho Koviloski
2021-11-15T19:14:51+00:00 November 1st, 2021|Categories: Literature, Essays, Blesok no. 140|0 Comments