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Biography of : Ivan Vazov – The Founder of Modern Bulgarian Literature

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Ivan Minchov Vazov (June 27, 1850 – September 22, 1921) was a Bulgarian poet, novelist and playwright. He was born in Sopot, a town in the Rose Valley of Bulgaria (then part of the Ottoman Empire).

The exact date of Vazov’s birth is disputed. His parents, Saba and Mincho Vazov, both had a lot of influence on the young poet.

After finishing primary school in Sopot, Mincho sent his son to Kalofer, appointing him assistant teacher. Having done his final exams in Kalofer, the young teacher returned to Sopot to help in his father’s grocery. The next year his father sent him to Plovdiv to Naiden Gerov’s school. There Vazov made his first steps as a poet.

He returned to Sopot and then went to Olteniţa in Romania to study trade despite his lack of interest in it. He was immersed in literature. Soon he left Olteniţa and went to Brăila where he met Hristo Botev, a Bulgarian revolutionary and poet. From Brăila he went to Galaţi to his uncle where he met Botev again.

In 1874 he joined the struggle for his country’s independence from the Ottoman Empire. He returned to Sopot in 1875 where he became a member of the local revolutionary committee. After the failure of the April Uprising of 1876, he had to flee the country, going back to Galaţi, where most of the surviving revolutionaries were exiled. There he was appointed a secretary of the committee.

Vazov was probably heavily influenced by Hristo Botev, who was the ideological leader of the Bulgarian revolutionary movement. He started writing his famous poems with Botev and some other Bulgarian emigrants in Romania. In 1876 he published his first work, Priaporetz and Gusla , followed by “Bulgaria’s Sorrows” in 1877.

Bulgaria regained its independence in 1878 as a result of the Russo-Turkish War, 1877-1878 and Vazov wrote the famous Epic of the Forgotten. He became the editor of the political reviews “Science” and “Dawn.” He was, however, forced into exile once again, this time to Odessa, because of the persecution of the russophile political faction. Returning to Bulgaria with the help of his mother Suba Vazova, he started teaching. Vazov’s next stay was in Svishtov, where he became a civil servant.

Ivan Vazov’s house, now a museum, in Sofia, BulgariaHe moved to Sofia in 1889 where he started publishing the review Dennitsa.

Vazov’s 1893 novel Under the Yoke, which depicts the Ottoman oppression of Bulgaria, is the most famous piece of classic Bulgarian literature and has been translated into over 30 languages.

Later in his life Vazov was a prominent and widely respected figure in the social and cultural life of newly independent Bulgaria.

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