Irina Nedeva

Publicist and Journalist, Sofia

Milena Jesenská Visiting Fellow
(October – December 2010)


“Translating the West” –
Risks and Pleasures

What does it mean for an Eastern European intellectual to be a translator of Western literature during the Cold War? Since the 70’s Tzvetan Stoyanov’s book The Genius and His Mentor (1971) about Dostoevsky and Pobedonostsev has been read as an encryption of the relations between the writer and the all-observing authorities. Could perhaps something more be found in the Bulgarian ex-secret-services archives? I want to compare the living memories of Tzvetan, his personal archive and newer documents. What was it to be “angry and young” under communist rule? What were the pleasures of translation and risks of being treated as a traitor? What were the intellectual dilemmas following the cultural paradigm shift in communist Bulgaria in the mid 20th century?