Bones of Contention
The living archive of Vasil Levski and the making of Bulgaria's national hero
This book is about documenting and analyzing the living archive around the figure of Vasil Levski (1837–1873), arguably the major and only uncontested hero of the Bulgarian national pantheon. The processes described, although with a chronological depth of almost two centuries, are still very much in the making, and the living archive expands not only in size but constantly adding surprising new forms. The monograph is a historical study, taking as its narrative focus the life, death and posthumous fate of Levski. By exploring the vicissitudes of his heroicization, glorification, appropriations, reinterpretation, commemoration and, finally, canonization, it seeks to engage in several broad theoretical debates, and provide the basis for subsequent regional comparative research. The analysis of Levski's consecutive and simultaneous appropriations by different social platforms, political parties, secular and religious institutions, ideologies, professional groups, and individuals, demonstrates how boundaries within the framework of the nation are negotiated around accepted national symbols.
About the Author
Maria N. Todorova is a Professor of History at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
"A complex, clever, and compelling book. It is an excellent guide to a major nineteenth-century revolutionary figure, and it provides a fascinating study in the political exploitation and manipulation of legend and myth."—Journal of Modern History
"This book is many things, but foremost it is a detailed analysis of the social and political processes that crafted a nineteenth-century Bulgarian revolutionary, Vasil Levski, into the most admired and revered hero in Bulgaria. Although the current representation of his revolutionary actions would suggest that this was inevitable, Maria Todorova shows that this was not necessarily the case. His ascendancy to the pinnacle of Bulgaria's heroic pantheon was a result of continual contestation and debate from his death in 1873 through the 1920s. As his preeminence was consolidated, different groups with opposing political philosophies all tapped into his celebrity to advance their platforms, further enhancing his aura and elevating him toward saintly status. This is an impressive piece of scholarship demonstrating meticulous historical research with both primary and secondary sources combined with engaging personal expositions based on the author's close connection to some of the major protagonists and events. It is an important contribution to scholarship in both method and content. It is also an important contribution to the literature on nationalism generally, particularly the growing interest in varieties of nationalisms. The book thus speaks to multiple disciplines, including history, political science, sociology, and anthropology. It is also augmented by a lovely collection of color prints that further enhance its readability. The result is an outstanding book that combines the best of the historian's craft with novel innovations"—Slavic Review
Other Titles by Maria N. Todorova
Other Titles in HISTORY / Europe / Eastern
Other Titles in European history