Ivan Minchov Vazov

Vazov, Ivan Minchov


Born July 9, 1850, in Sopot; died Sept. 22, 1921, in Sofia. Bulgarian writer and public figure. Studied at the Plovdiv Secondary School.

While living in Sopot in 1875, Vazov was a member of a secret revolutionary committee that aimed at the national liberation of Bulgaria. In 1876 he immigrated to Bucharest (until 1877), where he was a member of the Bulgarian Central Philanthropic Society. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, he served in the Russian Army as an official on special assignments. After the liberation of Bulgaria from the Turkish yoke, he was a judge in the city of Berkovitsa (1879-80) and a member of the Standing Committee of the Provincial Assembly in Plovdiv (1880-85). With the intensification of the dictatorial regime he immigrated temporarily to Odessa (1887-89). For two years he was minister of education (1897-99).

Vazov appeared in print for the first time in 1870. He became famous through the collection of poems The Banner and the Psaltery (1876), Bulgaria’s Woes (1877), and Deliverance (1878), which form a poetic trilogy about the struggle of the Bulgarians against the Turkish yoke, about the sufferings of the people, and about the joy of national liberation in 1878. Vazov’s revolutionary patriotic poetry reached its height in the cycle of lyrical and epic poems The Epic of the Forgotten (1881-84), which is devoted to the heroes of the national liberation struggle. The theme of Russian-Bulgarian friendship holds an important place in the writer’s works. Vazov’s lyric poetry of the 1880’s is distinguished by a variety of themes and genres. The collections The Psaltery (1881) and Fields and Forests (1884) present poetic pictures of Bulgarian nature as well as social satire on bourgeois society. His poems of the late 1890’s and early 1900’s reflect the bitter fate of the Bulgarian peasantry, which was being ruined at that time. Vazov’s early poetry reflects the influence of Kh. Botev and V. Hugo, and his later poetry shows the influence of the Russian poets A. S. Pushkin and N. A. Nekrasov.

In the early 1880’s, Vazov turned to prose. N. V. Gogol’s influence can be detected in his first tales, in the way they depict provincial mores. The novella The Outcasts (1883-84) deals with Bulgarian émigrés in Rumania. Vazov’s major novel, Under the Yoke (1889-90), is a realistic epic about the uprising of the Bulgarian people in 1876. Translated into many European languages, the novel is now part of world literature. In the early 1890’s historical and heroic themes gave way to themes of social protest in the novels New Land (1896) and The Queen of Kazalar (1903). In his sketches and stories Vazov attacked arbitrary political rule in the country and described the fate of the little man, the minor functionary, and the peasant. In works such as Tales and Stories (vols. 1-3, 1891—93) and the collections Scratches and Spots (vols. 1-2, 1893-95), which established the genre of the realistic short story in Bulgarian literature, Vazov criticized bourgeois mores.

Vazov made a great contribution to the development of the national theater. He dramatized the novella The Outcasts (the drama The Expatriate, 1894) and the novel Under the Yoke. He wrote historical dramas about the life of medieval Bulgaria and the comedies Candidates for Glory (1901) and People Looking for Soft Jobs (1903), in which he ridiculed the mores of officialdom. Vazov’s dramas and poems written during the Balkan War and World War I showed nationalistic tendencies. Basically, however, Vazov was a people’s writer and expressed democratic ideology. His work represents the highest stage in the development of Bulgarian critical realism.


Subrani suchineniia, vols. 1-20. Sofia, 1955-57.
Neizdadeni proizvedeniia. Sofia, 1968.
Soch., vols. 1-6. Moscow, 1956-57. (In Russian translation.)


Derzhavin, N. S. Ivan Vazov: Zhizn’ i tvorchestvo. Moscow-Leningrad, 1948.
Zlydnev, V. I. “Ivan Vazov.” In Ocherki istorii bolgarskoi literatury XIX-XX vv. Moscow, 1959.
Ivan Vazov: Sb. po sluchaĭ sto godini ot rozhdenieto mu. Sofia 1950.
Pavlov, T. Ivan Vazov: Naroden poet i klasik. Sofia, 1946.
Korolev, S. Ivan Vazov: Khudozhestven metod i literaturni pozitsii. Sofia, 1951.
Tsaneva, M. Ivan Vazov v Plovdiv. Sofia, 1966.
Vulchev, V. Ivan Vazov. Zhiznen i tvorcheski put. Sofia, 1968.
Ivan Vazov: Bibliograficheskii ukazatel’. Moscow, 1962.