Konstantin Velichkov is one of the first and most prominent intellectuals of post-liberation Bulgaria. In order to understand his merit for the Motherland, it must be clear what exactly an intellectual is dealing with. What do "intellectuals" do? They may manifest themselves in different fields, have different professions, and do different things, but they do the same thing that unites them - they say, they take on issues that affect a large number of people (usually an entire people). And these issues, of course, are beyond the competence of a narrow specialist. Therefore, one cannot say that he has "studied" as an intellectual. The intellectual is competent in various fields of human knowledge, although he has studied something (there is a profession in some field) - physics, mathematics, philosophy, philology, etc. However, his mind is not limited to his field of specialization, but is looking for a solution for a wider range of human problems.

Many people, even in the academic world today, cannot seem to grasp the activities of the intellectual. That is why ironic sweeps are heard of those who have an opinion and give judgments about things from different fields of knowledge. They are called "specialists in everything," but they rarely realize that intellectuals are just that. It is their duty to be specialists, if not for everything, then for many things. While the person skilled in the field of human knowledge, who avoids taking on "alien" scientific fields, is similar to a craftsman who works all his life the same (potter, shoemaker, bricklayer, etc.). Of course, there is nothing wrong with craftsmanship. Not everyone has the ability and gift to be an intellectual. However, Konstantin Velichkov had them.

He was born in Pazardzhik in 1855 in a relatively wealthy family. His father Velichko Popov is one of the city's champions. From a young age, Konstantin Velichkov displayed exceptional teaching credentials, for which he was sent as a Fellow at the French Lyceum Galatasaray in Constantinople. From there he received a diploma in literature, while still a student engaged in translation (with his friend from the Lyceum translate "Lucretia Borgia" by Victor Hugo). After graduation (1874) he returned to Pazardzhik where he taught (in Bulgarian, French, geography and history). As a prominent patriot, he took part in the April Uprising. Becomes a member of the local revolutionary committee, engages in agitation.

Following the bloody suppression of the uprising, his father was detained by Turkish authorities on suspicion of complicity and aiding the rebels. Velichko Popov remains in custody, where he is brutally beaten, almost to death. Two days after the father is detained, the son is also arrested. Their house was shattered by the wrists, suggesting that it was a warehouse for insurgent weapons. All the papers found inside were seized. On this occasion, K. Velichkov wrote in his memoir "In prison": "The Turks could not understand that we thought with naked hands to make an uprising, and they were hiding guns and guns in every house of the former citizens. "(" In prison ")

The memories of the time spent in the dungeon are truly moving. Velichkov witnesses scenes of abuse and torture that do not leave him throughout his life. They provoke him to write a memoir. In the dungeon covers the unknown and fear of the death of the caged Bulgarian insurgents who dared to fight for freedom, for themselves and for their people.

"In the situation we were in, we were in constant fear of leaving our health here, if not our lives, from the contagion we were buried alive in, or under the unforgiving blows of Arnaut snipes, left with only one bread that left us given by the authorities and out of which nothing was allowed to be imported, this thought, though false, that fate could smile upon us, was a source of sweet comfort that warmed our hearts and encouraged and strengthened our spirits. "(" In prison ')

One of the most tragic descriptions in the book is of the chain-bound insurgents, including Velichkov. More than seven hundred, chained by four, walking, dragging shackles and guarded by beaten soldiers on the way:

"Several people paid their lives for their resistance to the soldiers. Among the first victims was a young boy, Naum Kundurdzhia, all of whom wept with tears. Healthy, handsome, about twenty-five years old, with small black whiskers tucked upward, he had aroused, perhaps even more so with these external qualities, the indignation of the soldiers. As he was leaving the city, he had been hit in several places with shunji and he was obliged to walk with those yawning wounds from which blood had flowed. For some time he had been enticed by his comrades, until at last, weakened by pain, and much of the blood he had lost had dripped and spread on the ground. His jewels finished him off with a few punches. That's how others ended their lives. Some were left with only the wounds they had received. Their companions had dragged them with them for a long time, and some had carried them on their backs. "

This is exactly where I want to comment. Many people today are proud that their ancestors were not "slaves" during "Turkish times" because they lived almost perfectly then, etc. It should be clear that such statements aim to distinguish one from ancestors who were enslaved. in Turkish times. Tugging on shackles until they are put to death is a slave condition to life. Such ancestors do not need such ancestors. Their ancestors must be the ones like Ivancho H. Penchovich, who participated in the condemnation of Levski, who "do well" under every authority and every system. Because each person considers himself the offspring of such ancestors who are close to his own mentality and his own mind.

After the misfortune described "In Dungeon", K. Velichkov worked for some time as a clerk of the Bulgarian Exarchate, together with which he helped to write the newspaper "Stara Planina". Participates in compiling a map of the lands with a predominant Bulgarian population, which is used by Count N. Ignatiev in delineating the borders of San Stefano Bulgaria - the Bulgarian national ideal. He helped as a translator of Russian troops during the Russo-Turkish War of Liberation (1877-1878). After the Liberation he was chairman of the District Court in his hometown of Pazardzhik. He also develops active political activity. He is an MP in the Regional Assembly of Eastern Rumelia, where he stands out as one of the most eloquent speakers. Ivan Vazov says at his address:

"One of the best speakers in the Regional Assembly, he always charmed with his rapturous and ardent speech, which flowed from his mouth smooth, convinced, enchanting. When he asked for his word, there was silence in the chamber, his voice echoing, captivating listeners, and almost always joining them in his opinion. "

He became very close to his party members Ivan Vazov, Mikhail Madjarov, Stefan Bobchev (with him during his work in the Stara Planina newspaper). In 1884 he was appointed director of the National Enlightenment and a regular member of the Bulgarian Literary Society (BAS). Throughout this time he has never ceased to create and pursue a literary activity. In troubled times, the Unification is forced to emigrate. Participation in party life is expensive for an idealist like him. Party struggles, strife and attitudes in the "international environment" Velichkov takes especially hard. On this occasion, a bitterly commented commentary has been retained:

"He lives in a slave country. She does not live in a shabby country, especially when you were born in it and wore chains for her. However, everywhere I will carry in my heart and it will be all my thoughts and feelings. " 

Konstantin Velichkov literally "wore chains" in the name of the Motherland (something particularly shameful in the eyes of some of today's commentators on the slavery problem). Therefore, it is logical to feel resentful of the opposition of some Bulgarians against others.

During 1887-1889 he studied painting in Florence. In this way he develops his great gift, which has been noticed since his childhood. From 1890 he became a teacher at the Bulgarian high school in Thessaloniki (French and Bulgarian). Hristo Silyanov writes about him in his memoirs: "Without being a Macedonian revolutionary, K. Velichkov contributed most to the revolutionary education of the Macedonian youth in Thessaloniki." He returned to politics after 1894. For almost three years he has been Minister of National Education (December 1894 - September 1897), to which the service is extremely helpful. The great Krustyo Sarafov shares:

"If it weren't for Velichkov, I would hardly ever be talked about. I owe him a lot. Unfortunately, the fate of such idealists in our country is very sad… How nice it would be if in Bulgaria we had more Velichkovtsi, who with idealism, reaching self-denial, would serve their people until their last hour. "

A few words are also needed about K. Velichkov's work. In this regard, I will mention that today many of our students in our country read Dante Alighieri's "Hell" in his translation, made more than a hundred years ago and still relevant. Such an achievement in this field, and in the case of an author and a work of such magnitude, is something to be commended. Nadezhda Boneva commented on his case:

"In fact, the more I practiced, I realized that he was the first Bulgarian European. I was amazed at the effort and desire to translate "Hell" to Dante Alighieri. I have tried to translate it, other colleagues - too, but it is almost impossible if you do not know the development of the Italian language, and more specifically the Florentine dialect. And this is what Konstantin Velichkov managed to do, not so much to prove himself as a translator, but much more to connect Bulgaria to the Italian Renaissance, to break the ice that has accumulated over the centuries. And this is an extraordinary mission. You need to know not only the language, but also the specific age, as well as the personal and creative fate of a sophisticated person and writer like Dante Alighieri. This is a whole separate universe.

Velichkov studied alone. He still had good teachers in Istanbul, but in Italy and France, besides self-education, he also developed his own talents. And all this - with a very strong spirit, with an idealism that is difficult to understand now. Dante is complex because the whole Divine Comedy is a metaphor, the lyrics are difficult and full of allegories. This reveals Velichkov's qualities as a translator, but speaks of him as a person with a huge culture. Let us not forget that he wrote poetry, scientific works, memoir prose, but at the same time he is also an artist. He knew the brightest minds of science, the great musicians, he tried to discover Europe for Bulgarians and Bulgaria for Europeans. And here we are not talking about a literal translation of Hell, but of a full-blooded and good translation, a true one that has captured all the subtleties of the metaphorical. In fact, Konstantin Velichkov has a great merit in this - he lays the foundations for translation in Bulgaria. Because, as you well know, good linguists are also translators. As long as we mention the brothers Cyril and Methodius.

I was attracted not only by his literary activity, but also by his personality, his morals. I would call Konstantin Velichkov a "knight of the spirit", even an idealist. And he has even proven it as Minister of Education. I know and I've heard estimates that he is not among the best poets, but look at his prose, look at "In Dungeon". Maybe he still remains in the shadow of Ivan Vazov - unfortunately, but I think that the two should not be compared. Because Vazov is Vazov with all his brilliant works, but still he is a national author, while in this respect Velichkov surpasses him. He goes beyond Bulgaria, he is a real European man, artist and cosmopolitan. Let's not forget that in addition to Italian, he also knew French, the language of art, so he had the confidence to start the project "General History of Literature".

Konstantin Velichkov today should be respected as one of the builders of modern Bulgaria, not only politically but even more culturally. One of the brightest and most powerful minds of the era. A man of debt and of art.

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