Born Jan. 6, 1849, in Kalofer; died June 1, 1876. Bulgarian revolutionary figure, poet, and publicist.
Botev was born into the family of the Bulgarian enlightener Botiu Petkov. He lived in Russia from 1863 to 1866 and studied at a Gymnasium in Odessa (1863–65), where he became a friend of the exiled participants in the Polish Uprising of 1863. The ideas of the Russian revolutionary democrats influenced Botev. He returned to his homeland in January 1867 but was forced to leave Bulgaria because of persecution by the Turkish authorities. He lived in Rumania, where he was at the center of the Bulgarian revolutionary émigré movement. He contributed to émigré newspapers such as The Drum and Danube Dawn and became a friend of the Bulgarian revolutionary V. Levskii. He began to publish the newspaper Thoughts on the Bulgarian Emigrants in Brǎila in 1871. In 1872 he became L. Karavelov’s collaborator in the publication of the newspapers Freedom and Independence in Bucharest. He took part in the work of the Bulgarian Revolutionary Central Committee and became a member at the end of 1874.
Botev hailed the Paris Commune. He evaluated positively the activity of the First International and was acquainted with K. Marx’s Communist Manifesto and Capital. In the context of Turkish military-feudal domination in Bulgaria, Botev presented a revolutionary democratic program, asserting that Bulgaria’s national liberation was linked to its social liberation. His views, which developed from Utopian socialist ideas, came close to those of Russian populism; his ideas included hopes for the peasant commune and for the possibility of Bulgaria’s avoiding the penetration of capitalist civilization. In topical satires and journal articles, he satirically ridiculed the obscurantists, opposed the Bulgarian liberal reformists, and exposed the reactionary role of the church. His hopes were based mainly on a revolutionary uprising. He headed the Bulgarian revolutionary movement from 1875. After the April Uprising of 1876 against the Turkish yoke, he organized a detachment of insurgents and on May 17 (old style), 1876, debarked on Bulgarian shores. He perished in a battle against Turkish forces on Vol Mountain. Botev is a national hero of the Bulgarian people. The day of his death has been declared a day of national mourning and of memorial to the heroes who died in the struggle against national oppression and fascism.
Botev’s poetry is filled with deep lyricism and lofty civic inspiration. He celebrated the warrior hero and the sacrificial revolutionary exploit (in poems such as “Elegy” and “Struggle”) and the Gaiduki struggle against the Turks (in the narrative poem “The Gaiduki” and others). His work combines realistic characterization with features of revolutionary romanticism and themes of people’s art. He was one of the pioneers of Bulgarian literary criticism. The opinions he expressed on questions of aesthetics and the role of literature and art contributed to the affirmation of realism in Bulgarian literature.
WORKSS” chineniia, vols. 1–3. Sofia, 1949–50. Edited by Mikh. Dimitrov.
In Russian translation:
Izbrannoe. Moscow, 1948.
Publitsistika. Moscow, 1952.
REFERENCESDimitrov, Mikh. Khristo Botev: idei, lichnost, tvorchestv, 2nd ed. Sofia, 1945.
Derzhavin, N. S. Khristo Botev poet-revoliutsioner. Moscow-Leningrad, 1948.
Vorob’ev, L. V. Khristo Botev. Moscow, 1953.
Sheptunov, I. M. “Khristo Botev.” In Ocherki istorii bolgarskoi literatury XIX-XX vv. Moscow, 1959.
Derzhavin, K. N. Khristo Botev (1848–1876). Moscow, 1962.
Zarev, P. Khristo Botev. Sofia, 1963.
Tarinska, S. Prozata na Khristo Botev. Sofia, 1966.
Gorov, K. Zh. Sotsialno-ikonomichekite v” zgliadi na Khristo Botev. Sofia, 1968.
I. M. SHEPTUNOV