Dr. E. Agoston-Nikolova

  • Posted on: 20 January 2015
  • By: nicolaas
About the participant: 


Elka Agoston - Nikolova, PhD in Slavic literaturte. Retired lecturer of South Slavic Languages and Balkan Studies ( folklore and ethnic identity). In her research she has published on issues of oral literature, gender studies ( representations of women in literary texts) and general topics such as national and ethnic identity.

Title of lecture: 
The memoirs of Sotir Janev. A correspondence across frontlines and time
Abstract: 

THE MEMOIRS OF A BULGARIAN OFFICER- SOTIR JANEV FROM THE BATTLEFIELD - “FROM STRUMA TO CHERNA” (1916).

A CORRESPONDENCE TRANSCENDING FRONTLINES AND TIME.

 

E. Agoston – Nikolova

 

FROM STRUMA TO CHERNA , published in 1917, honors the memory of those

who fell in one of the memorable battles in the Bulgarian history of the First World War. Among chilling but lyric descriptions of the beauty of nature, followed by “terrible nights of despair and blood”, we find 5 short chapters dedicated to the memory of a French officer Rene Mésnard, the enemy whose dead body Sotir Yanev stumbled upon on the battle field – “we were enemies : on one side my solders, on the other side his zouaves ! I defended the interests of Bugaria, he – the political cause of France. In the ensuing battle Rene was defeated. It is Bulgarian custom to honor the valiant even when they are enemies, subject to a profound misapprehension … (p.10).

My paper will focus on a less often discussed subject in  connection with the war ( First World War) – not the heroism on the battlefield, but the survival in the trench warfare and the direct experiences of the men in the trenches and their behavior towards the adversary. My conclusion is that men were not puppets of war, quite powerless before the events, but active (human) agents, who sought some control over the events, and in this way retained their human dignity.