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Asterix in Bulgaria.

Астерикс в България. Социокултурни щрихи.
Антон Стайков, докторант в СУ „Климент Охридски”, специалност „Семиотика на рекламата” в Катедра на Юнеско, ФЖМК. Научен ръководител проф. д-р Христо Кафтанджиев
staykov@format.bg 0889 256 248
Историята на България след Втората световна война е маркирана от стереотипи, които пречат за популяризирането и развитието на комикса в жанров диапазон, както и за неговото достигане до по-широки публики. Комиксите попадат в категорията „западни продукти” и не отговарят на идеологическите норми на социалистическия свят (от 1944 до 1990 г.). След падането на берлинската стена публикуването на западни списания, книги, музика и общото познание за културата, която се намира зад бившата „желязна завеса”, очаквано поставят на дневен ред и публикуването на комикси. Един неуспешен дебют на героя „Тентен” на Ерже остава като куриоз с лошия си превод от английски (вместо от оригиналния френски език) и с примитивната полиграфия. След като няколко поколения деца са израснали с френската версия на изданието на френската компартия Pif Gadget , на пазара се появява без особен успех и лицензиран „Пиф” на български , както и пиратски издания ня някои от най-известните герои от списанието като Рахан и Жустис . Читателската публика се различава от тази през 80-те години на XX век. В десетилетието след 1989 г. България напускат повече от един милион жадни за промяна граждани. Емигриралите са предимно младежи, израснали със списанията „Дъга” и „Чуден свят” и запазили носталгичен спомен за тях. Но за нови български комикс списания икономическата ситуация е невъзможна. Те не могат да се конкурират с евтините издания с герои от вселената „Дисни” – най-вече със списанието за по-малки читатели „Мики Маус” и тийнейджърското „Уич”, които задушават даже опитите за издаване на комикси от вселената на „Marvel” и „DC”. И европейските герои не успяват да се вместят в каталога от масово издавани герои – например качествената поредица „Лъки Люк”, с рисунки на Морис по сценарий на Госини, не успява да достигне до втори брой, въпреки спомените от качествената анимационна поредица. Изданията за Астерикс имат по-щастлива съдба – десет албума излизат през 90-те години, а 20 години по-късно следва нова поредица – като новите албуми са грижливо редактирани и добре отпечатани според високите критери на френските носители на авторски права, които предоставят ремастерирани файлове на българския издател.
Публикациите за Астерикс на български език са официални и пиратски. Странното е, че пиратски издания се появяват след първото официално издание на цели 10 официални албума. Това става нарпимер в списание „Детски свят” , което публикува в няколко броя с продължение „Астерикс и готите”. „Егмонт България” издават 10 албума, а след 2012 година активните в издаването на комикси „Артлайн” започват да издава албумите с ново оформление и по-добро полиграфическо изпълнение, като през 2014 година стигат до три албума.
Преди 1989 година комиксовата поредица за Астерикс не е позната на българските читатели, изключение правят учениците от специализираните гимназии с изучаване на френски език, които използват библиотеката на френския културен център или получават отделни книжки като подарък от посолството на Франция. След 1960 година на българския пазар доминира списанието списанието на френската комунистическа партия Vaillant (Ваян) , след това неговият приемник Pif gadget („Пиф с играчка”). Децата купуват охотно и неговия българския аналог – списание „Дъга”, което достига до тиражи над 300 000 екземпляра и излиза в 42 броя от 1979 до 1992 година.
Издателство „Егмонт България” запълва липсата от комиксови издания и наред с издания, посветени на Доналд Дък, Мики Маус и други герои на студио Дисни, като станалата популярна сред момичетата фентъзи поредица „Уич” на италиански автори , решава, че е дошло времето и на популярната френска поредица за храбрият гал и неговият непобедим приятел.
Под рубриката DARGAUD представя (Dargaud présente) българският клон на Егмонт издава 10 книжки. Издателите са по следата на полския успех на изданията за Астерикс, които са с огромен тираж, финансов успех и популярност в огромната славянска страна, която явно възприема добре хумора на поредицата. В България тиражите се колебаят в диапазона 5 – 20 000 екземпляра, което е скромно в сравнение с други държави, между които Германия или републиките от състава на бившата Югославия, но отразява напълно пазарната ситуация в България – повече от един милион българи, предимно млади, емигрират трайно, а българския книжен пазар е наситен с достатъчно атрактивни западни списания, които разделят вниманието на читателите.
Изданията са с мека корица, не особено добре оформени, с липса на постоянство в повтарящите се елементи, което лишава поредицата от колекционерско единство. Размерите по височина също варират с повече от половин сантиметър, което говори както за небрежната полиграфия в България през периода, така и за липса на истинска редакторска последователност. Първите 9 броя са изпълнени като брошура с телче, последният – 10 брой, е с термолепене, но на образувалото се гръбче с ширина няколко милиметра няма заглавие въпреки достатъчната площ и примера от оригиналните издания. До к 8 авторите са означени като: „Текст ГОСИНИ, Рисунки Юдерзо”, в брой 9 и 10 са използвани и имената на сценариста и художника: „Текст Рьоне Госини, Рисунки Албер Юдерзо”.
Цената на албумите се променя през годините по различни причини, на два пъти заради смяната на парите и добавяне на нули цената се променя до хиляди.
1 – 23,90 лв.; 2 – 23,90 лв.; 3 – 23,90 лв. (променена по-късно на 45 лв.); 4 – 45 лв.; 5 – 69 лв.; 6 – 1999 лв.; 7 – 249 лв.; 8 – 3490 лв.; 9 – 2,99 нови лв. / 2990 стари лв.; 10 – 2,99 лв.

За успеха на изданието шанс е появата на фигурата на преводача, Венелин Пройков. Той е наследствен преводач, който е опитвал силите си с превода на класически френски автори , но има специално отношение към френския комикс (през 2014 година продължава да работи върху преводи на „Смърфовете” на Пейо и нови серии на „Лъки люк” на Морис по сценарий на Рьоне Госини). За българските деца той е направил много с преводите на поредицата за малкия Никола (12 книжки), а сериите за Астерикс са негова гордост заради предизвикателството да пренесе игрите на думи, социалния контекст, историческите препратки, вътрешния ритъм на диалозите, ироничният авторов глас. Особено внимание трябва да отделим да успешното наименоване на героите от серията с разбираеми и смешни български еквиваленти. Заедно с буквално заетите Астерикс, Обеликс и Панорамикс, той създаваимената „Всебезрикс”, „Найдобрикс”, „Тевтат”, „Белен”, „Белизама” и т.н. ; в „Галският герой” легионери са Гай Хитреций, Марк Мухоморций, Калигула Дебилий (шпонин) който пред галите се представя за Галидебиликс. В „Златният сърп”: Америкс, Гракх Ищеций, Авоарфикс, Лещикс; в „Астерикс и Клеопатра”: Панелис (в България са популярни блоковете от панели, които не са много здрави и красиви), Прошнурис (писар, чийто име напомня папки с документи, които са „прошнуровани”), злодея Амаципис и т.н.; в „Голямото плаване или Астерикс и индианците” (филмът по същото време е вече по екраните на България и минава със сравнително добър успех): Азбучникс – Ordalfabetix; Тролейбусен – кученцето на скандинавците, Варгасен (мечтател, асоциация с Варгас Льоса), Новдесен (асоциация с политическа партия в България по това време), Наесенспесен (израз, с които се изпращат децата на лятна ваканция и им се напомня, че ще се върнат на 15 септември „с песен”), Отнесен (разсеян, заблуден), Гнусен страшни. Не само личните имена, но и географски понятия са преведени с разбиране за иронията, например град с име „Галфониум”.
Преводачът се справя много успешно със звукоподражателните, като изковава български съответствия на френските: дженк, вранк, чатапатанк, крак и т.н.
От 1 до 8 брой всички книжки носят надслов „Приключенията на Астерикс”, след който следва конкретното заглавие на албума. Последните две книжки носят като надслов само логотипа „Астерикс”. Редът не следва оригиналната последователност на френското издателство. Причините са маркетингови, свързани най-вече с излизането на екран на игрална версия на комикса.
Брой 1. Галският герой 1992 ( 1. Astérix le Gaulois, Dargaud, Paris, 1961)
Брой 2. Златният сърп 1993 (2. La Serpe d’or, Dargaud, Paris,1962)
Брой 3. Астерикс и Клеопатра 1993 (6. Astérix et Cléopâtre, Dargaud, Paris, 1965)
Брой 4. Астерикс и готите 1994 (3. Astérix et les Goths, Dargaud, Paris, 1963)
Брой 5. Астерикс гладиатор 1994 (4. Astérix gladiateur, Dargaud, Paris, 1964)
Брой 6. Голямото плаване на Астерикс и индианците 1995 (22 La Grande Traversée, Dargaud, Paris, 1975)
Брой 7. Астерикс и олимпийските игри 1996 (12 Astérix aux Jeux olympiques, Dargaud, Paris, 1968)
Брой 8. Вожд срещу вожда 1998 (7. Le Combat des chefs, Dargaud, Paris, 1966)
Брой 9. Астерикс и норманите 1999 (9. Astérix et les Normands, Dargaud, Paris, 1966)
Брой 10. Астерикс при бритите 2000 (8. Astérix chez les Bretons, Dargaud, Paris, 1966)
Най-доброто полиграфско издържано изпълнение на поредицата наблюдаваме през 2013 година. След внимателно подписан договор с издателство „Albert Rene”, софийското издателство, специализирано в комикси, манга и фентъзи романи започва работа. Поредицата започва в оригиналния ред, като „Астерикс, галският герой”, е напечатан с изпратени от Франция нови, ремастерани файлове, а следващите две издадени книжки са с оформление, което ги превръща в дизайнерски обоснована серия. В новото издание на „Галският герой” на издателство Артлайн се вижда амбицията за по-добра типография, грижливо оформление на текстовете в балоните, динамична игра със звукоподражателните. Името на Астерикс е със специално добавено ударение на „и” по настояване на предводача, което е необичайно за българския език, но подчертава произхода на серията именно като френска и променя инерцията за поставяне на ударение на първото „а”. Въпреки вниманието на редактори и коректори, още на първа страница ни очаква забавен лапсус. В краткия анонс в началото на историята, в описанието на Астерикс е написано погрешно „жребецът Панорамикс”, вместо „жрецът”, което е доста комично предвид слабата фигура на героя и неговата тържествена роля в серията. Панелът, изпълнен със звукоподражателни в долната част на първата страница, за разлика от първото издание, е с преведени и нарисувани звуци, което го прави по-жив и убедителен. В новото издание е приета и конвенцията авторовите текстове да са на жълт фон. 20 години по-късно преводите на Венелин Пройков са останали непроменени. С много малки коректорски намеси те са издържали изпитанието на времето от първото издание на Егмонт от 1993 г.
В изданията на Астерикс на български има няколко много интересни аналози в заглавията на песни, използвани от барда Всебезрикс („toujours-sans- chemise”), които препращат безгрешно българския читател към естрадни песни от 70-те и 80-те. „Лутееция, с теб живея, с теб се смея” (Златният сърп). В „Голямото плаване” бардът не пътува, но Астерикс и Обеликс го заместват успешно в връщането на борда на викингската галера, когато пеят „Минава… голяма галера минава” (препратка към известната естрадна песен „Минава, големият кораб минава”) .
В новите издания на Астерикс са използвани български аналози, доста успешни предвид липсата на натрупано богатство от думи заради краткото развитие на българския комикс, който е по-скоро разказвателен, отколкото действен. Преводачът е създал истинска база данни за творците на комикс в България, която може да се опише в малък наръчник от готови премислени съответствия, в голямата си част успешни.
…бау, бом-бом, брадум (буря в Златния сърп), брън, бум, грр, гриз, дан, дженк, дзум, дзън, драм, дран, дум-дум-дум, думбалум (в българската традиция думбалумба), квии, крак, пльок, пльос (Обеликс се хвърля в морето, до него цопва и кученцето със скромното „цоп” (Голямото плаване…16 стр.), пляс, прас, там-там, тап, тип, трас, тряс, тък, сниф-сниф, уау, фрас, цап, хрус-хрус, цап, цък-цик-цак-цук (Златният… 38 стр.) издават срещналите се остриета на копия във внезапно спрялата римска патрулна част шпльок, шльооп – рибата цапардосва в лицето Азбуникс (Голямото плаване, 7 стр.), чатапатанк…
На много места в превода се наблюдава тънка игра с някои национални характеристики: петелът „кукурига”, пуйката в Америка общува с „бърлю-бърлю” (Голямото плаване… 17 стр.), коларят вика на биволите си „дий-дий”, Астерикс гони вълци в гората с „къш-къш” и „чиба”, анонимните човешки крясъци се дочуват като „ай” и „олеле”. Вълшебната отвара се пие с „гъл-гъл” (Галският… 8 стр.), така е и с алкохолните напитки по-нататък в историята. „Хърр” е знак за звучно спане (Галският… 27 стр.). „Тутурутутуту” е звукът на тръбите в римския лагер, звук, който поражда комичен ефект заради асоциацията с позната песен.
Комиксите за Астерикс са изпълнени с различни манипулации на верблния текст. Тези интонационни характеристики оцветяват текста и повишават неговата „звучност”. Умалителното може да е подигравка: „Ама какви грозни думички знае” (Златният … 36 стр.) – коментира Обеликс ругатните на Лещикс, който е похлупен с тежък долмен в скривалището за златни сърпове. Пияният гал хълца с „хлъц” в различни големини, придружени от различен брой руни отпред, отзад, отгоре, околовръст, в зависимост от интензивността на сполетялото го алкохолно нещастие. Гай Хитреций пък забравя всякакви думи и съвсем картинно си представя как го гони лъв на арената в Рим (Галският… 48 стр). Изненадата на Калидебиликс, който шпионира в селото на галите, прерасва в изумление от тяхната сила, като градацията се изразява в една въпросителна, три въпросителни, огромна въпросителна, която се „цепи по шевовете” (Галският… 15 стр.). Когато друидът Панорамикс се порязва заради виковете на Астерикс, докато бере имел със златния сърп на едно дърво, вика му „олеле”, което е „разтреперано” и на жълт фон (Галският… 16 стр.). Глупавият гал, когото Астерикс разтърсва за дрехата, отказва с „Не ми е на път”, като думите му треперят в ритъма на тялото заедно с комиксовия балон. Понякога само играта с големината на шрифта е достатъчна, за да озвучи диалозите достатъчно добре: „- На ЮЛИЙ Цезар? – Да, да, на ЮЛИЙ…” (Галският… 27 стр). Изумлението на двамата стражи в римския лагер е предадено с арка, която очертава влизащият в палатката Астерикс (Галският… 29 стр), малко след това Панорамикс възклицава с червени главни букви (пак там). На същата страница градацията във вика на пазача на лагера е изразена с увеличаване на големината на буквите „Шефе! Шефе!” (пак там). Диалозите на потъналите в мъглата герои са със скандинавски ударения, които не пречат на нормалното разчитане на диалозите, а в същото време създават атмосферата на екзотичната „чуждоземност” от тези страни. Даже кучето джафка с ударения (Голямото плаване… 1 стр). Когато над натупания индианец има звезди, означаващи световъртеж, те са във формата на звездите на американското знаме (Голямото плаване, стр. 23). Звездите се променят с офицерски знаци при второто припадане (пак там, 25 стр).
За доброто приемане от читателите на комикса (именно читатели в случая с „Астерикс”, където текст и рисунки са напълно равноправни) служи и умелото използване на българска разговорна и жаргонна реч: „Хайде на марулите, хубави римски марули, моля” (Златният… 37 стр) е призива на продавачка, която наистина продава марули, за разлика от преносното значение на устойчивия израз на български. В „Голямото плаване” се появава и българска национална следа: след хипотезата, че мнимите римляни са нумидийци, гърци или критяни, Астерикс се усъмнява дали не са траки (стр 25). Малко след това Обеликс ги заплашва с „разтракване” (стр 26). При третия каламбур (стр 26) даже Астерикс предупреждава да не се прекалява с каламбура („траки, ама сърцето ми се затраки” на стр 28).
Игрите на думи в комиксите се разделят на няколко подкатегории, за тях би могло да се изпише цяла лингвистична сттудия. Ето само някои от тях: „– Ще говориш ли? – Какво говориш!!!”, е краткият диалог на мъчителя и Панорамикс, който отказва да каже тайната на вълшебната отвара. В „Галският герой” диалозите стигат до градация в смеха именно с игрите на думи, свързани с растенето на коса: „Никого не бръсне за нищо!…”, „…така, че работата виси на косъм!”
Поредицата за Астерикс започва своя живот в списание „Пилот” като комикс с продължение, но продължава истинския си успех като поредица албуми, тематичен парк, анимационен сериен филм, филмова игрална поредица, 3D филм с премиера по света и в България в началото на 2015 г. Така героите на Госини и Юдерзо преминават целия дълъг семиотичен път на създаване на малкия гал антигерой и неговия суперсилен приятел гурман. Така, от създаването на персонажите, през единичните панели към страницата, разтвора, 35-те албума и т.н. се създава цялостна митологична и маркетингова комиксова вселена, която достига до десетки различни държави и функционира успешно на повече от 100 езика.
Астерикс намира своята истинска публика и в България, но се разминава с истински сериозните тиражи, както и с това да се превърне в масов феномен, както това се е случило преди това в Германия и Полша. Комиксът остава по-скоро албум за децата от по-образованите читателски среди, в които комиксовите албуми се четат и обсъждат от цялото семейство. Българската специфика го поставя в сегмента на бутиковите книги, като издателството Артлайн удовлетворява феновете с тиражи от 2000 за първите три албума от серията и предвидени подобни тиражи за договорените нови албуми за годините 2014 – 2015.

Luben Zidarov’s Magic Mirror

Stefan Kanchev – Lord of the logos

Stefan Kanchev, the most famous Bulgarian graphic designer.

The Bulgarian Stefan Kanchev is still regarded as one of the top ten masters of graphic design in the world

By Anton Staykov /  Illustrations Archives

The long-awaited design of a new tourism logo of Bulgaria is about to justify the saying that is not bad publicity. The many critics of the new logo claim that it lacks focus, that it is mediocre and tends to resemble the logo of Kyrgyzstan designed a year ago – the difference between that it cost Bulgaria 1,4 million leva compared to 600 euros for Kyrgyzstan. Bulgaria On Air does not intend to take part in these disputes. But they are an occasion to recall that Bulgaria is actually a country with leading positions in graphic design. And that a Bulgarian is named by many prestigious publications around the world as one of the ten greatest masters of this art. Anton Staykov reminds us of Stefan Kanchev.

The artist Stefan Kanchev (1915-2001) was a pioneer of graphic design in Bulgaria. An author who gained worldwide fame and figures in prestigious encyclopaedias of graphic design and trademarks.

The Japanese magazines Igarashi and IDEA respectively analyse his philosophy a nd graphic exquisiteness. In numerous Ameriacan, Hungarian and German publications (Novum Gebrauchsgrafik, Neue Werbung) Kanchev presented Bulgaria as a personal sign of talent and professionalism.In 1967 he was represented at Trademark International, New York, with 23 trademarks. And in 1994 Stefan Kanchev was officially ranked among the world’s ten most important graphic artists. In the International trademarks centre in Ostend, Belgium, he is seen together with legends like Paul Rand and Saull Bass, Yousaku Kamemura, Jasques Garamond, Franko Grignani  , Joseph Muelerr-Brockmann, Jan Rajlich, Anton Stankowski and Hermann Zapf.

FOLK ART. Kanchev’s work is an amazing mixture of cosmopolitanism and loyalty to the Bulgarian visual memory, to Bulgarian folk art. His trademarks are understood by any citizen of the world after 1960s. At that time there are still no talk t of integrated marketing communication, brand strategies and communication measures – his marks are known for their imaginative ideas and aesthetic genius, always easily read and unequivocally understood. (“To reduce things to a sign means that you are capable of synthesis, for which knowledge of the problem is a must,” Kanchev said and also: “Applied graphics is not a cosmetic accessory of the environment we live on.”)

PIONEER. Stefan Kanchev did not copy blindly folklore colours and graphic schemes. As he put it: “Canons grow old , they lag behind the dynamic of the time.” For him, the spirit of the time was important, therefore he watched the development of abstract art and pop art. After the 1960s, this is a clearly seen in his own work – loquacious ornamental rhythmic is replaced by a graphic system with strict structure and mathematical logic. In designing his brilliant graphic vignettes and trademarks, Kanchev worked with the means of expressions available  to any artist. But in his designs the line, the geometrical figures, the colour harmonies are subjected to a flawless aesthetic and meaningful order. “I am for all that is new. For modern art. For any trends inspired by time.”

CREATIVITY. Hundreds of postage stamps, books, posters, thousands of registered trademarks. New Year’s cards, greeting cards, ad pages, fancy letterheads, labels, packaging… Kanchev worked actively and untiringly, in all fields of graphic art. Active and uncompromising in the commissions he headed in the Union of Bulgarian Artists and the Centre for Applied Aesthetics. His criteria were the same he applied to his own graphic art – varied and harmonious composition, inventiveness, attention to graphic order and balance. It is difficult to believe that this harmonious master worked entirely during socialism – he overcome the ideological dogmas of the time and managed to create his design as a citizen of the world.

TYPEFACES. Stefan Kanchev was familiar with the best examples in the field of typefaces in Bulgaria and
abroad, and uses a letter style for each concrete task. He always coped brilliantly with the difficult task of combining Latin and Cyrillic characters.
He created new typefaces in an unrivalled way. The Bulgarian Cyrillic alphabet owes much to this master who is still topical in the beginning of the 21st
century. Kanchev’s typographic examples comprise new images in which the combination of sign and typographic elements are inseparable. The viewer does not even realize that the end result is achieved from a letter and image – two components dissimilar in nature.

TRADEMARKS. Many logos designed by Stefan Kanchev are still used in Bulgaria. TV antennas today are an almost forgotten thing of the past, but the logo of the national television
created by Kanchev (the letters B & T, intertwined like an antenna) still exists and is easily recognizable. The Petrol trademark with the likable dragon
is still with us, even if the company itself underwent numerous transformations;
the Union of Bulgarian Artists coped with the crisis of the transition under the logo left by Kanchev; the Black Sea resorts still use logos designed by him with uniquely intertwined seagulls, waves, birds, geometrical figures, symbols of minimalists hotels.

Most Bulgarian publishing houses feature his trademarks. Kanchev showed exceptional ingenuity, using the seemingly limited
possibilities of the square, circle and triangle.

COMPUTER AND HAND. Stefan Kanchev knows exactly how, not only what. He lawlessly designed his logos and brilliant calligraphies as combinations full-empty, visual-associative, image-sign, to craft a master gem: “Some think that the computer will do it all. Technologies save time, yes. But the hand has to touch
the computer project to render it graphic.”

Kanchev directed a symbolical message to his followers in a sign, created by the first three letters of the Bulgarian alphabet. His ABC traces the typographic development of our society through the
Cyrillic script, our Slavic past, ideology, pragmatism, technology and future. He left three dots for the next letters. In 2013 Bulgaria’s graphic designers are diverse and eclectic, use new technologies are open to Europe and the world, continue their quest for the true presentation of the Bulgarian identity.

Stefan Kanchev knew that the trademark is rooted in tradition. And that the signs we leave behind are important.

A portrait of the Philosopher as a Movie Star

Boian Manchev, photographed by Svoboda Tzekova

Boyan Manchev, one of Bulgaria’s most popular contemporary thinkers, spoke with Bulgaria On Air (31 / February 2013) about the tasks and the traps of philosophy in the 21st century

Text ANTON STAYKOV / Photography SVOBODA TZEKOVA

In the minds of most people,  the term “Philosopher” is related to images from the past – from the marble bust of Socrates,  to the toga-clad Voltaire of Houdon,  or to the somber,  unknown faces of thinkers from the past century in black and white photos. We spoke with Boyan Manchev,  one of the most popular Bulgarian thinkers worldwide,  about the contemporary image of the philosopher – and philosophy’s new functions.

A.S. What is the image of the philosopher at the outset of the 21st century? According to some,  the modern thinker is not only an observer of social processes and practices of the arts,  but rather actively manipulates them…

B.M. I will share an anecdote with you. A few years ago,  the Parisian club Palais de Tokyo organizes an event called “24H Foucault” Michel Foucault,  who died of AIDS in 1984,  was and still remains one of the most influential figures in modern philosophy,  an inspiration for the younger generation with his radical,  critical skepticism and his powerful social role. Foucault became a cult figure on the intellectual stage during the 1960s and 70s. He imposed a new image of the philosopher – neither a bearded Greek thinker,  not a strict and elegant German academician,  but rather a real lion in the auditorium who makes his way to the podium through a crowd of tape recorders,  cameras and enthusiastic  female students. But could be seen on the Parisian barricades in 1968,  on every open platform,  and sometimes in jail or even in prison.

A.S. Socrates spoke in places where he could be heard by the most people. Is philosophy today a hermetically sealed practice?

B.M. It should not  be such. The turnaround I was talking about – the social and political sea change of the period around 1968 – was also a turnaround in the iconography of the philosopher,  obviously symptomatic in the new social role at the time. The paradox is that the image of the philosopher as a critical inspirer during the succeeding decades has progressively been transformed into the image of a new intellectual “cult figure”. Returning to my anecdote – at that event 8 years ago,  we did not see particularly characteristic images of young philosopher; I don’t see them in the scores of public forums around the world,  in which I participate,  either. On the other hand,  the crowded space in Palais de Tokyo was full of Foucault lookalikes,  in his famous image: a stylish suit with a turtle neck,  bareheaded and stern,  horn-rimmed glasses. Imitation and copycatting dominate the word of images today. The criticism of the 1960s was transformed into a lifestyle,  into brightly-coloured “revolutionary” t-shirts with the faces of Che Guevara or Marx. Now the image of Foucault,  as well as the image of Antonin Artaud or Heiner Muller in the theatre (with their spectacles and cigars),  has become a trend-setting image. As if young philosophers,  as well as young artists,  think a lot about their fashion look and professional image – perhaps this is the reason why they do not have their own recognizable image.

 

A.S. That means outward appearance has become of great importance to philosophers,  like it is for pop stars?

B.M. The philosophers of t he 1960s went outside of the lecture halls or turned them into platform of free thinking,  into a type of intellectual and social laboratories. Today,  the majority of young philosophers have returned to the universities and are working on weighty,  solid dissertations and their own philosophical image. Of course,  there will always   be exceptions. A philosopher should be led not by the exceptions to a rule,  but by the rule of exceptions. A philosopher must have his own voice,  authentic presence and image: if someone looks like a philosopher,  you had better doubt it. A philosopher should always approach the unexpected and unimaginable with respect.

 

A.S. Is there a new “foundational philosophical question” today? It seems the subject of contemporary philosophy is focused on the social aspects more than the ethical aspects of modern man?

B.M. Yes. The main question of philosophy today is the question about today. This is not thinking about the burning issue of the day,  but the kind of thinking that allows us to understand the world of today in a critical way,  in order to act and change it,  not by sinking in the quicksand of our depriving ourselves of a world. Philosophy which is not an action – action with and because of the concepts,  action through ideas – is devoid of sense.

A.S. The philosophers of ancient Greece were a pride for their polis,  as well as a wealth for the island city; they were even traded between cities like present day football players. What is the role,  the glory  of being a philosopher in Europe? And what about in Bulgaria?

B.M. The answer stems from what has been said above. If a philosopher is seeking recognition,  he should work to see future world and even,  if you will,  a future people. The relationship between present,  past,  and the future is a task not only for the philosopher,  but also for every creative work. Every free work is a creative one. Therefore,  we should not think about how to free ourselves up from labor in some utopian kingdom of idleness and passive consumption,  but how to liberate labor itself,  in order to make it a source of pleasure and action. This is a philosophical,  as well as a political task,  which faces each one of us.

A.S. You are playing two roles in the theatre – a theoretic observer and an active creator…

B.M. I do not at my acting as anything different from my occupation with philosophy. The uniqueness of the theatre of Anni Vaseva,  with whom I worked on the scripts for Play about Dying and Frankenstein,  is that her theatre is not like the pretentious and tedious intellectualizing theatres,  of which there are more than enough in Europe,  but a philosophical theatre in the strong sense of that word – a theatre that penetrates into the realm of thought and desire by using radical images and uncompromising stage actions. Her theatre does not philosophize; it thinks. Therefore,  she tempted me to step outside of my lecture halls and to enter the realms of the fridge.

 

A.S. Tell us about the cities where you have lived over the last several years. Boyan Manchev is an urbanite,  isn’t it?

B.M. During the last five years,  my life and work have followed a course between Paris,  Sofia,  Vienna,  and Berlin,  with the route following different configurations depending on the period,  with “vacations” in Utrecht and Amsterdam. I have also made short visit to Petersburg,  Tokyo,  Beijing,  New York,  Istanbul,  Stockholm,  Porto,  Milan,  Zurich,  Helsinki,  etc.… At one point my library and wardrobe were scattered across five homes around Europe. It was a strange feeling – arriving at the airport and instantaneously encountering a different sensory rhythm. Inevitably this has led to a feeling of abnormality,  where being awake or tired,  inspired or exhausted has become indistinguishable. The body transcends itself and,  nevertheless,  gathers itself again in the sense of a home and desire for a place. The more I travel,  the more distinctly I feel that concentrated thoughts require the concentration of the body in one place. Now I decline about three fourths of the invitations I receive,  but even the minimum number I accept,  put my body to the test. This week I marked a personal record: during the period of three evening in a row,  I read three visiting lectures on three different topics (the concept of modernity, the relationship between technique and disorganization, and fictional utopias for the body in romantic philosophy) in three different cities (Paris, Berlin, and Sofia) and in three different languages (French, English, and Bulgarian). Perhaps it is no accident that my last three books were also written in three different languages: French,  Italian,  and Bulgarian.

The Text and Illustrations in the Bulgarian children’s books

An illustration in a children’s book really is worth a thousand words, as Napoleon used to say. Is there a future for illustrated books in the age of internet?

Horace once said that pictures are poems without words. This is especially true for the children’s fairy-play genre. Merry and sad, light hearted and fearful what would these magical stories have been for us if they were not accompanied by beautiful illustrations? It is precisely the pictures in children’s books that gave us our first and lasting impressions of the word, and which inspired our imagination.
Today it is true that illustrations are more accessible than ever before: on Facebook and the Internet, not to mention video games, electronic comic strip and 3D movies. However, what happened to illustrated children’s book? Can they withstand such competition? Do children still like the books that belonged to the childhood of their fathers and mothers, and of their grandfathers and grandmothers? Is there a future for the Bulgarian illustrated children’s book, which, as you will see, has had such an interesting past?

From the collective fantasy to an individual author.

As is the case everywhere, Bulgarian literature for children developed from traditional folklore. As early as the beginning of the 1900s, Elin Pelin, Nikolay Raynov and Ran Bosilek built bridges between oral legends and authored work. An encyclopedic writer and artist, Raynov changed the language, relieving it of archaisms and borrowed words. His collections represented the new mythology of the previous generation that was raised and grew up in the patriarchal Bulgarian village, but which settled in a different, more dynamic and already alienated urban environment. Characters such as the Three Smarties of Elin Pelin are based on the self-irony of the Bulgarians, who did not manage to become full-fledged citizens (by the end of the 1900s, the “smarties” lost their ironic nuance and turned into “fools” attraining worldwide fame as Donyou Donev’s animated characters).

Among the first eminent illustrators was Alexander Bojiniv. His decorative compositions, ornamental letters and verses in the Golden Book for Our Children (1921) and Alphabe for the Little Ones (1926) became examples for generations of artists and designers who followed him.

Rascals and foxes.
Elin Pelin is among the first who begun to make specialized magazines for children in the 1920s. He translated Max and Moritz, and wrote stories about children in verse and in prose. Yan Bibiyan, which was first published in 1934, continues to this day to be one of the most favorite stories for children. The main character remained without a head after entering a Faustian contract, but with the help of the devil’s tail (which he stole) he became a greater rascal than the little devil himself. His facial features underwent visual change with subsequent editions; one of the most successful graphic images of him was created by Petar Chuklev in the 1970s.

Children in Bulgaria also identify with Peter the Sly, who always outwits Nastradin Hodja. The philosopher and artist  Iliya Beshkov illustrated Sava Popov’s book by always showing the character with his inseparable friend – the donkey. Peter the Sly is a symbol of the Bulgarian down-to-earth and pragmatic daily wisdom.

Ran Bosilek’s patilantsi (pranksters) outwit granny Tsotsolana. The rhymed letters  ressemble the rhythm of folk music. It is impossible to think of “Pranksters’ Kingdom” without the illustrations of Vadim Lazarkevich, Russian emigrant from the Whiteguard.­­­ The book was later illustrated by Stoyan Atanasov – with robust, stylized silhouettes and funny mimics and gestures. Together with The Maiden who Was Not Born and Unprecedented Hero (ornamented with the decorative secessionist drawings by Georgi Atanasov), Pranksters’ Kingdom by Ran Bosilek is among the first three choices for the most cherished Bulgarian tale of all time.

Propaganda for all ages.
After 1940 the children’s tale got caught in the grip of propaganda for the “new social order”.Their characters were diligent pioneers and excellent students who were always ready to volunteer. Gifted Bulgarian writers and artists made compromises in order to survive. Some of them wrote metaphorically hoping that their books would not only be read by children. The censors were sometimes overzealous in the practice of decoding truths for the contemporary reality. The Donkey with the Silver Hoofs by Ivan Kozhuharov was seized from bookstores in the late 1960s, and was  not published again for more than 20 years. The first illustrator of these tales, Alexnder Denkov, changed the appearance of the Bulgarian book with the new styles and freedoms. His illustrations of the fairy-tales of Angel Karaliychev ware innovative. Az for Kozhuharov’s book, only very recently, in 2009, did it find its most suitable contemporary artist – Veselin Pramatarov.
The years of the “thawing” after the death of Stalin saw the appearance of the fairy-tale saga The Adventures of Foxy by Boris Aprilov (1957). There are no dogmas or suggested themes in that story, such as were so characteristic during the period of the so called “building of socialism”. The  bold Foxy travels – in three novels and nine mini-novels – to Squareland and to the sea; there he meets the little dolphin Moni and argues with the author. His adventures contain funny and sometimes philosophical dialogues, but also touches of sadness. Children like when stories are a little bit sad. And they also learn from Fo xy something that will be important for the rest of their lives – “ When somebody is in trouble, you must come to their rescue.”

Sparrows and frogs.

Yordan Radichkov is an emblematic author who wrote for children during the period of developed socialism and then during t he transition. We, the Sparrows, with his drawings and design, and where even blank spaces on the pages are full of meaning, is a real masterpiece. His later book Little Frogs’ Stories, with illustrations by Victor Paunov, asks hard questions about national identity:

“If it is good to live in Europe, why do you have come back to our swamps and puddles?”
“Why have we come back?…Well, because we did not want to share the fate of the water quails,” replies the frog, who, after a short silence, continued to speak. “Once we arrived we opened the doors of the wagon and saw that Europe herself was standing at the door with a mouth opened soooo wide. Europe eats frogs and, in order to hide this from others, she calls frogs water quails.”
“Ooooo!” all the frogs in the swamp exclaim in chorus. “Look at this Europe, what she does!”

Valeri Petrov, playwright, poet and translator, also wrote a substantial number of works for children  – with vigorous rhymes and dramatic turns, portraying inter-generation relationship and delight in nature and daily life. Though his books have been translated into many languages , they still not found their best Bulgarian illustrator.

“Best friends,” they are professed,
but what makes one really “best”?
Is it because he’s first to pounce
into the fire to save you, first
without an ounce of doubt about
whether you’re best or worst?
First for you he steps on the ice,
First for you his blood he shelds.
That much, it would suffice
To know this friend is “best.”

New themes, new approaches.
In the turbulent years of the political transition, children’s literature dived into painful family and social themes. During the last ten years or so, artists experimented with  the book in a new way

Ivan Totomanov: Everything is translatable.

Ivan Totomanov, photo: Svoboda Tzekova, Sofia, 2012

Ivan Totomanov has been translating from Russian for more than 25 years. He started off as an editor at National Culture Publishing. Since 1990 he has been translating a new wave of authors, whose style and language use are completely different: Vladimir Sorokin, Victor Pelevin, Victor Erofeev and Yuz Aleshkovsky.

Anton Staykov: You translate exclusively Russian literature. Russian writers are cosmopolitan now. How has literature developed over the years from your viewpoint as a trnslator?

Ivan Totomanov: I handpick the titles I translate. I do not think there i as distinct development in Russian literature – just like environments, systems and outlooks. As far as the efforts to be a cosmopolitan writer – no one who tries it in literature lasts. Don Quixote is a Spaniard; Faulkner’s characters are from Yoknapatawpha. To paraphrase Vuk Karadzhic – write about what you know best.

A.S. Prior to 1989, contemporary Russian literature was read without regard for personal preferences. Would you agree that it was forced on us as obligatory Soviet literature?

I.T. No, not really. The social order was “forced” Mass literature goes along with the ideas of the time; that is why it both exists and is forgettable. Classics last and are constantly reprinted.

A.S. Is the communist protagonist a superheroe, of sorts?

I.T.It cannot be otherwise. He expresses ideals and is needed as an example. He will betray his father, like Pavlik Morozov, and his foul grandfather will kill him. Taras Bulba does it out of honor and duty, right? It is a matter of perspective. It is more important that it be interesting to read.

A.S. Is any text translatable?

I.T. Given that the words of God in holy books are translated, then everything is translatable. Every nation has its language instruments and enough words to describe the world and what is happening in it. So, yes, it can be done. You just have to understand what the author is trying to say and not simply excuse yourself wit “well, that is what the author wrote”. This is why translator is a co-author; there is no other way.

A.S. Do you translate poetry?

I.T. Only if necessary. Sometimes the current translations of a poetic piece do not match the text that I am translating; then I do them on my own. Aleshkovsky uses one of Pushkin’s verses as a motto for his book, but its translation did not fit with the text so I redid it. If I receive a decent pension and have years of free time, I think I will do a translation of Eugen Onegin.

Wjat is the difference between translating from Russian and, let’s say, from English?

I.T. There isn’t any difference. You are translating to Bulgarian. It’s more about what you are translating. The popular authors, who are translate most, and especially American ones, are storytellers and narrators, whereas even the most insignificant Russian author considers himself a lord or master of thoughts. This is an inextinguishable feature of the Russian writing tradition.

the interview is from 17.04.2012. Photo: Svoboda Tzekova.



Nadezdha Radulova: A translation should not resemble a washed window.

Nadezhda Radulova in Sofia, May 2012. Photo by Svoboda Tzekova

Nadezhda Radulova is part of young generation of Bulgarian authors. She writes poetry, edits and translates from English. She is akready known for her translations of Philip Roth (The Human Stain), J. M. Coetzee (Life and Times of Michael K), Jean Rhys (Wide Sargasso Sea) and Jackie Kay (Trumpet). She thinks that the weaker a text is, the harder it is to translate. Therefore, good literature is both a challenge and a gift for the translator.

Anton Staykov: Are they “crimes” in translation? Where are the limits in terms of a translator’s fidelity toward the original text?

Nadezhda Radulova: The translator is not a co-author. He or she more closely resembles an actor or musition who interprets or acts-out the text without going beyond its boundaries. Theories on translation are not always useful when one is face to face with something that was written by somebody else in a foreign language with a different linguistic consciousness. I do not want my translations to resemble a washed window – a metaphor used quite often for a successful translation, but which is misleading, as if there was no translation at all, that the original language and the target language are the same. Some fingerprints must be left on the window from that which is foreign as well as that which is untranslatable.

A.S. Whom do you think about more while working on a translation – the author or the reader?

N.R. About the author, but I believe that thinking about the author is the best way to think about the reader. A good translation should not misjudge the readers by “adapting” the foreign text in order to help them. A good translation needs to be provocative.

A.S. Which literary period do you feel the most affinity for? What would you choose for your next project if it was your choice?

N.R. Anglo-American Modernism, as well as many pieces of British literature from the 1970s until the end of the twentieth century. I would definitely translate more poetry. For reasons that are easy to understand, however, that latter would more likely be a personal project.

A.S. Is there anything that reduces the time you spend translating literature.

N.R. Yes, the vanishing connection with the editor, the most function of the editor… because a text that has been translated needs to be reviewed by a third party. The complex relationship, the battle between  the translator and the author, the crises in this special partnership; these are all managed by the editor. A good editor is like a matchmaker.

A.S. Has the work of the translator changed during the last decade?

N.R. The appearance of the internet has been critical… I am from the spoiled (and I would day lazy) generation of instant references, But I like to read old translations made without the crutches of new technologies. They often have more life in them.

Sofia, 16.04.2012
Photo: Svoboda Tzekova. 

Venelin Proikov: Translators are not jealous

Venelin Projkov in Sofia, 12.2011. Photo by Svoboda Tzekova.

Anton Staykov: Do you beleive there is such a thing as a faultless translation?

Venelin Proikov: Well, every translation is just a translation, not the original. However, one has to do his best. My mother translated many literaly texts from French, and I remember very well how she took pains to edited her own texts, as well as she when she edited translations done by others. For myself, I try to do my first version well, so that there will be only a minimum number of errors to correct.

A.S. Do you consider an author you have translated for a number of years to be yous friend?

V.P. In my case, this is the situation with Rene Gosciny, the author of the Asterix comics series and the series of stories about little Nicholas. I like his verbal tricks and am well acqainted with them, and I do my best to always find a humorous Bulgarian equivalent for them. This is a difficult, yet extremely satisfying task. I have also sensed such a relationship during my work on the five Jean Cocteau plays that I have translated.

A.S. Does the translator become jelous when someone re-looks at texts that he or she has already translated?

V.P. I am not aware that anyone has been jelous of me, nor have I been jelous of anyone else. One of Cocteau’s plays that I translated, Les Parents terribles (The Awful Parents) has also been translated by the actress Tatiana Masalitinova; Silvya Wagenstein has translated som eof the stories about little Nicolas. A translation is not the original; some competition between translators is not a bad thing when we are talking about great authors.

A.S. What is the funniest incident in your experience as a translator?

V.P. Well, I could mention a blunder of mine in my translation of the Les Parents Terribles. The text was about “Lorenzaccio”, a play by Alfred de Musset about Lorenzo de Medici. When I translated the play, I transcribed the “z” in the little “Lorenzaccio” to sounds as it does in French, not as “ts” as it sounds in Italian.

A.S. Translating for children is probably entertaining, but it is also an important responaibility.

V.P. Of cource it is. I was fortunate enough to translate two children’s books in the past: Remi et le fantome by Colette Vivier and The Little Nicholas, a selection of stories by Rene Gosciny. At that time it seemed totally natural to me, since I was quite close to my childhood years. Now, however, I am careful and take great pains not to show that I;m quite removed from those years. When the characters are children the language they speak must be consistent with theur age, and it must also be correct because the young reader is still learning how to explain him or herself.

 

 

Iglika Vassileva. Great Books reach their translators by themselves

Bulgaria OnAir magazine published a series of my interviews with translators in the issue from 14.05.2012, dedicated to the literature. 

Iglika Vassileva, in Sofia, 16.04.2012. Photo by Svoboda Tzekova.

Some of the greatest names in English literature are known to us through the translations of Iglika Vassileva – a translator of uncompromising style, expression and melody. The Alexandria Quartet of Lawrence Durrell, az well as the books by Virgignia Woolf and Henry James, are among her greatest achievements. Her translation of James Joyce’s Ulysses, which took her three years, became a big event in the Bulgarian book market.

Anton Staykov: In one of your interviews you said that only the translator can appreciate the depth of a writer’s work. At the same time you think the re ader should not be underestimated.

Iglika Vassileva: Yes, after all, books are for uninitiated readers and not simply meant for literary criticism. Sometimes, with statement that books like Ulysses are difficult to understand, critics take them out of the hands of many readers who might have otherwise experienced the wisdom in such a book, even if they didn’t ebtirely understand its avant-garde achievement in form and style.

A.S. Are you attracted by the similarities between authors who belong to the sam eintelectual circles? The friendship between Miller and Durrel, for example, has been frequently discussed; their letters to one another have been published.

I.V. I don’t like Henry Miller, but I do Lawrence Durrel. He is a stylist who takes the English novel beyond the limits of the Victorian traditions. Like Conrad, he too is a foreigner; he was not brought up in England, but with his family on the island of Corfu.

A.S. In Dublin you discovered a city that lives thanks to the legend of Joyce. Were there traces of Lawrence Durrell in Alexandria?

I.V. In 2011 I had unforgettable encounters with writers and critics in Ireland. Joyce’s Ulysses has become a “carnival” book for Dublin; the city celebrates it as a national holiday – on June 16th everyone dresses up like characters from the novel, and they eat rasted kidney and drink burgundy, just like Joyce depicted. Unfortunately, today’s Egyptian Alexandria is a ruined city. Cars drive chaotically; formerly glamorous colonial houses are crumbling.

A.S. Is there anything missing from present-day Bulgarian translations?

I.V. I miss the editor’s profession. In years past there was an assessment regardingwhich book would be suitable for a specific translator. Having translated one book is not enough expirience to take up translating Virgignia Woolf, for example.

photo by Svoboda Tzekova, 2012

A.S. Do you correct a writer when you see repetitions, incongruity, mistakes?

I.V. I have come across a lot of mistakes. I do not correct them; I add a footnote. With Joyce I came across mistaces, too, but it is understandable with such a big book with such complex substance. On the other hand, Nabokov, who criticizes Joyce for his style, is a typical example of a writer who destroys texts in translation – his own Lolita, as well as Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin. The translator’s proffession requires a specific disposition to relive an experience, but to do wit incredible loyalty.

Sofia, 16.04.2012
The conversation is between Iglika Vassileva, Anton Staykov and Svoboda Tzekova. Photos: Svoboda Tzekova. 

Chinese Picture Stories

Picture stories are the most popular reading material in China, and children particularly love them. The term encompasses comic strip in newspapers, comic book for children, and dramatic stories for adult told through pictures and captions. Collecting and exchanging picture stories has become a widely popilar hobby in China: People read the stories during trips, for relaxation after work, or for a quick education about historical events or famous pieces of literature.

Narrative painting can be traced to the Han Dynasty, some 2000 years ago, with the first murals on the walls of tombs. With block printing in the Ming Dynasty came the first picture-story books. They were popularized in the 1920s after the Cultural Enlightenment Movement, and the books began to be mass-produced, first in Shanghai and then in the rest of China.

The first step in producing a picture-story book is to write a script, often based on populqr novels, operas, or films. The author must kep in mind the pictorial possibilities of his or her script as well as the quality of the language. This lays the foundation for the book.

Chinese comics favor a realistic style, though some artists prefer humorous or exaggerated styles. Techniques include traditional line drawing, ink and wash, watercolor, woodcut, and paper cut.

A good picture story like a good novel, must have well-chosen language and sharply drawn characters who develop in the course of the story. The writers and artists must all be keenly observant of people of social trends.

A small to medium-size picture-story book averages 60 to 100 pictures. Some works are produced in serial – for example, Outlaws of the Marsh, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and A Dream of Red Mansions, which are all adapted from classical novels, run to dozens of volumes and are very popular among readers.

Picture stories are based not only on Chinese literature but on Western works as well by such authors as William Shakespere, Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, Honore de Balzac, Maxim Gorky, and Mark Twain. Some are taken from fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen or the brothers Grimm. The books’ publishers feel that picture stories can help bridge the culture gap and help promote international friendship.

Before Liberation, comic artists were looked down upon socially and critically neglected. But Lu Xun and his contemporary Mao Dun helped break the barrier by supporting the picture-story form, Lu Xun with his appeal to intelectuals and Mao Dun by arguing that the comic is the most effective and popular means of mass education.

Since the founding of New China, the government has paid great attention to comics. The comic artists’ work has been supported and encouraged, and the competiotion have been held regularly to recognize outstanding picture stories. More and more picture-story books have been published. In the first post-Liberation decade 600 milion picture-story books were published. In recent years, about 700 million have been published annually. The number of comic artists has increased greatly.

The comic has also developed a wider range of styles and themes. The Central Academy of Fine Arts, China’s largest, established comic-art and New Year picture departments in 1980. Following the establishment of the Chinese Comic Art Reasearch Society in 1983, many branch societies were established to promote the theoretical study and creation of comics. The Chinese Comics Publishing House was set up in 1985. All this will ensure the further development and prosperity of comic art.

In 1982, 50 Chinese picture-story books were on display at exhibition held in Italy and the Pompidou Center for the Arts in Paris. In 1984, 14 books won special awards at the First International Comica Festival held in Switzerland.

This Chinese-comics exhibition in Britain will help promote cultural axchanges between China and Britain. Finally, we hope it will enhance understanding and friendship between our two peoples.

Jiang Weipu, Chairman of the Chinese Comic Art Research Society