Bulgaria

Bulgaria

Bulgaria

Bulgaria

Synopsis

"Tracing the evolution of the Bulgarian state and its people, from the beginning of the national revival in the middle of the nineteenth century to the entry of the country into the European Union, Richard Crampton examines key political, social, and economic developments, showing how a backward and troublesome Balkan state became a modern European nation."

Excerpt

If the writer of the Oxford History of Modern Europe volume on Bulgaria is required to define his terms he is in difficulties. History as a discipline has evolved rapidly over the last three decades; many of those trained in earlier years at times find themselves on unfamiliar and sometimes baffling territory when reading the works of the younger generation. 'Modern' used to be a straightforward concept meaning the most up-to-date, so that a Victorian engineer and a 1950s car worker could both consider themselves living in the modern age. Now modern has come to mean a chronologically defined era and we live in the 'postmodernist age'; more unfamiliarity and bafflement ensue. It might be thought that 'Oxford' at least was immune from change, but can we be so sure of that given the malevolent, misguided intentions towards the University of mendacious and frequently ignorant politicians?

And that leaves 'Bulgaria'. As the following pages I hope will show 'Bulgaria' and 'Bulgarian' have been fluid concepts. In its long history the state has ranged territorially far and wide across the Balkans, and even in the shorter time frame of its modern existence the question of where its borders should be drawn has seldom been absent from the minds of many Bulgarians. And who are the 'Bulgarians'? What makes a 'Bulgarian'? At times the answer would have depended primarily on which church he or she attended, though now language would be a more likely indicator. But that is not as simple as might at first be thought. The Slav languages of south-eastern Europe frequently merge imperceptibly from one to another. Croats and Bosnians now insist on the distinction between their speech and that of the Serbs, a distinction rarely emphasized or largely muted before the 1990s. There is a linguistic transition belt between Bulgarian and Macedonian which is only one of the indications of the great problem of Bulgaria's relationship vis-à-vis the Macedonians. Whether Macedonia is or is not part of Bulgaria has for long been debated, and no doubt the debate will continue, between historians if not on a wider plane. It is impossible to be objective on this question. To me it seems that in some historic epochs Macedonia has been part of Bulgaria . . .

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