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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 18 | volume IV | January, 2001



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 18January, 2001

Our Share in this World

p. 1
Atanas Vangelov

Ivan or Cvetan?

    The first year following the spectacular fall of communism in Europe (1990) brought a novel (among many others), “set” at the time of the student riots in Europe in the sixties (1968). The novel depicts the milieu of Paris intellectual elite that was not left aside from these events. It is not only the topic and the heroes from the novel Samurai (Les Samouraпs[1]) that attract attention, but also – not less – its author. It is Julija Kristeva, known more as a leading university professor of linguistics and psychoanalysis (Paris VII) than as a reputable novelist.
    Kristeva came from Sofia (Bulgaria) to Paris two years prior to the student riots (1966). For an unusually short time she managed to fight her way to the very centre of the then cultural avant-garde, gathered around the already cult Roland Bart. About ten years earlier (1956) Bart started a crusade against the hopelessly undistinguished, monotonous and tedious academism of the then university criticism. The sun of that academism, symbolically represented by Raymond Picar extinguished; in Paris shone and in the world spread the dazzling splendour of his sensuous, erotically electric criticism: seductive, playful, elegant, technically perfect and equally attractive both for the student masses that filled up the aulas where he delivered lectures, as well as for the learned humanist elite from all four sides of the world. Three years (1963) before Kristeva, in the same way from Sofia to Paris arrived Cvetan Todorov who, at the time when Kristeva arrived had a solid, if not a favoured position in Bart’s orbit.
    The beginning of Julija Kristeva’s novel speaks of this “coming”. The novel is a self-evident “picture” of people in which “the most well-known intellectuals from that epoch” are dominant. Cvetan Todorov is one of them, and he much later, in another place, himself ponders about his coming to Paris: “My transfer from Sofia to Paris (…) showed me simultaneously the relative and the absolute. The relative, since I could know that everything does not have to occur everywhere as in my native country. The absolute too, because the totalitarian regime in which I grew up could serve to me, in all circumstances, as a backing for evil” (L’homme dépaysé, 25).
    What is the portrait like (1966) and what did Cvetan Todorov do according to Kristeva’s remembrance, for which she says, calling upon h that it looks like “soldier’s courage”: just like


1. Librairie Arthéme Fayard 1990; Gallimard 1992.

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