The Unneeded Sorcerer , Georgi Grozdev - about Svetlana Stoychevaís book, ďBoyan the Sorcerer Ė a Study of Literary MythĒ Iztok-Zapad Publishing, 2017
As a writer whose novelís (Unneeded) interpretation marks the ending of Prof. Svetlana Stoychevaís book I may have one slight advantage. The advantage of time. With the help of that precious book, thanks to the assiduous labor of its author, I am able to have a look at the traces left by Boyan (Benjamin) the Sorcerer in Bulgarian literature. I have never done this and it has never occurred to me to do it.
Those who have created their works before me cannot see me, but, for now, I can see them. When we talk and write about Boyan the Sorcerer, turned Boyan the Unneeded in todayís tumultuous times, I think there are more than the three dimensions we are familiar with. Time and space, here and beyond, present, past and future are no longer clearly set. In this seeming reality Euclidís geometry and Einsteinís relativity are transcended. Brand new dilemmas, phenomena and faces appear. As if we have known them solely with our subconscious, with our intuition. Or we have never even given them a single thought. We come to a deeper understanding of the secret of the Universe, of the mystery of the human soul. The burst of eternity we come from and go to is more palpable.
Svetlana Stoycheva is neither a shaman, nor a sorcerer. Yet, she masterfully and composedly takes me as a reader on a journey through dark trails and intricate routes, through gullies and valleys, over hilltops and passes, through caves and whirlpools. Some places hinted she might not be so calm, objective, confident and fearless. Her mastery as a critic, analyst and interpreter makes her text light and easy to read despite the numerous footnotes, which are very useful, by the way.
Svetlana Stoycheva is like an explorer in search of a hidden city or some treasure buried in the jungle. She reminds me, without any irony, of Indiana Jones. She follows in Boyan the Sorcererís footsteps hauling a big and heavy rucksack. Wherever she passes, she leaves something to serve as a guide and food for thought on her way back. Retracing her footsteps offers real gems when she compares writers from different times and discovers coincidences in the thinking of authors set apart by decades and centuries.
This explorer is in search of the beginning of myth, from its mustard seed in medieval chronicles, through historiansí and intellectualsí accounts, through a comprehensive etymological examination of the name Boyan, of the significance of the wolf mythologem, through the possible traces of Simeonís son in the folklore and mystification of The Tale of Igorís Campaign (—ŽÓ‚Ó Ó ÔÓŽÍů »„ÓūŚ‚Ś). The first dated coordinate is the year 1849 Ė the name is that of Yuriy Venelin. Then come Georgi Rakovski, Dobri Voynikov, Stoyan Mihailovski, Kiril Hristov, Ivan Grozev, Anton Strashimirov, Teodor Trayanov, Nikolay Raynov, Lyudmil Stoyanov, Tsvetan Minkov, Petar Karapetrov, Kamen Zidarov, Ivan Bogdanov, Dimitar Delyan. Also Geo Milev and Peyo Yavorov with his unfulfilled intentions due to his premature death, but with documented reflections on the topic. The finale (the most meta- sounding) of the examined works is the novel Unneeded.
Her strong fondness of the phenomenon of Boyan the Sorcerer is marked also by surprising consistency. This is not typical of todayís researchers. For seven whole years she carries her thoughts through various geographic locations annotated at the end of the text. She preserves within herself the thought and quest for what Bulgarian literature has preserved about Boyan the Sorcerer. And it is not little, nor much. For the most part it has been literally assimilated in literary works at a formal-routine or local-Balkan level. Boyan the Sorcerer is a cosmic personality. He comes from the star Sirius and is connected to the River of Souls called the Milky Way. Right here the dominating Bulgarian literature on the subject remains deeply embedded in its coordinates, in its prejudice and preconceptions, in its self-limitation. But also right here there is another small part of that literature that rips through the home-grown and home-bred that flourishes so in our lands to this day to touch the energy of Sirius.
Boyan the Sorcerer is a test for Bulgarian writers, for Bulgarian readers, for the Bulgarian elite, as much as it exists today. It is a mirror for the traditional Bulgarian and Balkan inability to pass beyond familiar dimensions reflecting a seemingly sound sense of reality that has been the reason for our failures as nation and people every two-three decades ever since our Liberation.
Why are we like that? is the question leading Svetlana Stoycheva in her spiritual adventure in the footsteps of Boyan the Sorcerer. With every peek into the abyss, with every step and trepidation at the next risk of annihilation or conquest by a foreign power, Boyan the Sorcerer comes to mind. After all he was able to change into a wolf, deer and eagle, he wielded unknown powers and possessed cosmic insight, why not save from our fate? Didnít he despise the material and wasnít he tempted by the unscalable reaches of the soul? He supposedly slayed a kingís son but it wasnít power that lured him!
As far as I have been a witness to her revelations and sighs along this path of surprising summits and plunges, I can say that Svetlana Stoycheva has barely relieved herself of her load. I expect she has more to say and, God willing, she will express it in another book, be it smaller in volume than the current one, but even more succinct.
In her present work of over 400 pages, a walk among works and authors, she follows them with great insight keeping a productive distance. She makes her bold discoveries and enters ever deeper into the mystery of Boyan the Sorcerer.
The risk of her suddenly getting swept by a landslide or a supernatural caving into nothingness remains. But, with a bit of envy, let us admit that her book is a definite eye-catcher. Her white book is a fact. Like a white crow perched on the bookstands where Bulgarian books have been shoved into the corners or even absent, replaced by foreign language slavishness and servility. A piece of mirror on the cover reflects the readerís image, a very creative solution by the artist Boyan Montero. He is the authorís son. The work itself is dedicated to him. When she named him after Boyan the Sorcerer, she commemorated her deeper roots, not just her family ones. As it sometimes happens, an ambitious and seemingly unpretentious literary walk throughout the boring past gradually gets rich in interesting topics and surprises. Because the literary explorer and archeologist thinks, compares, avoids traps and never loses his or her sense of direction, even when the road passes through the proto-Bulgarian caves inhabited by the man-wolf.