Pelin, Elin 1877-1949
PELIN, Elin 1877-1949
PERSONAL: Born Kimitur Ivanov Stoyanov, July 18, 1877, in Baylovo, Sofia District, Bulgaria; died December 3, 1949, in Sofia, Bulgaria; son of Ivan (an educator) and Tota Stoyanov; married Stefana; children: Elka, Boyan.
CAREER: Teacher in Baylovo, 1896-99; freelance writer, 1899-1903; University Library, 1903; National Library, 1908; staff editor of periodicals Slunchogled, 1909, Veselushka, 1908-10, Chavche, 1913-14, Svetulka, 1920-32, Puteka, 1933-34, and Septemyriyche, 1945-49. Curator of Ivan Vazov Museum, 1926-44. Wartime service: Editor of Voenni izvestiva ("Military News") and Otechestvo ("Fatherland") in World War I.
MEMBER: Union of Writers (chairman, 1940), Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
Razkazi (title means "Stories"), 2 volumes, St. Atanasov (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1904.
Pepel ot tsigarite mi (title means "Ashes from My Cigarettes"), (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1905.
Ot prozoretsa (title means "From the Window"), Ya. Yakimov (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1906.
Kitka za yunaka: Razkazi (title means "A Wreath for the Hero"), (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1917.
Pizho i Pendo: Khumoristichni stikhove, razkazi i dialozi na shopski dialect (title means "Pizho and Pendo"), Knigoizdatelstvo na bulgarskite pisateli, (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1917.
Gori Tilileyski: Prikazki za detsa, naredeni v stikhou, Khemus (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1919.
Sladkodumna baba: Narodni prikazki, Paskalev (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1919.
Svatbata na Chervenushko: Vesela istoriya v stikhove za detsa, Paskalev (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1924.
Tsar Shishko: Prikazki v stikhove, Ministerstvo na narodnata prosveta (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1925.
Pravdata I krivdata: Narodni prikazki, Khemus (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1927.
Pesnichki (title means "Little Songs"), Ministerstvo na narodnoto prosveshtenie (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1927.
Zemya: Povest (title means "Land"), Ministerstvo na narodnoto prosveshtenie (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1928.
Cherni rozi (title means "Black Roses"), T. F. Chipev (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1928.
Tri babi, Khemus (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1930.
Potocheta bistri: Stikhove za detsa (title means "Clear Brooks"), Ministerstvo na narodnoto prosveshtenie (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1931.
Yan Bibiyan: Neveroyatnite priklyucheniya na edno khlape (title means "Yan Bibiyan: The Unbelievable Adventures of One Kid"), Khemus (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1933.
Yan Bibiyan na lunata (title means "Yan Bibiyan on the Moon"), Khemus (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1934.
Az, ti, toy: Mili rodni kartinki (title means "I, You, He"), Khemus (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1936.
Pod manastirskata loza (title means "In the Monastery Arbor"), Khemus (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1936.
Dyadovata rukavichka, Khemus (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1937.
Zlatni lyulki: Stikhove za detsa, Grazhdanin (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1938.
Suchineniya (title means "Works"), 5 volumes, edited by Todor Borov, Khemus (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1938-1942.
Kumcho Vulcho I Kuma Lisa: Stsenirana prikazka, Khemus (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1939.
Shturche-svirche: Veseli stikhcheta za momicheta I momcheta (title means "Little Cricket-Little Musician"), Khemus (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1940.
Geratsite: Povest, Khemus (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1943.
Strashen vulk: Prikazki v stikhove, Khemus (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1944.
Subrani suchneniya, 10 volumes, edited by Todor Borov and others, Bulgarski pisatel (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1958-1959.
EDITIONS IN ENGLISH:
Short Stories, Foreign Languages Press (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1965.
Short Stories, edited by Mercia Macdermot, translated by Maguerite Alexieva, Foreign Languages Press (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1972.
Bag Boys, Sofia Press (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1975.
SIDELIGHTS: Elin Pelin is best known for his jovial short fiction, in which he uses disarmingly simple stories to communicate complex ideas about Bulgarian culture. His charmingly direct fiction resonates with children. Though he also edited several children's journals, his is readable at many levels. His stories of rural life in western Bulgaria, the so-called "shop" where Pelin was raised, earned him the moniker "the bard of rural misery."
Pelin's parents were education advocates in the village of Baylovo in the Sofia district of Bulgaria. Pelin's father, one of the few literate men in Baylovo, ran the local school out of his basement. From his own meager income, Pelin's father even began to develop the town library. But Pelin was more dreamer than student; he alone among the seven Stoyanov siblings failed to finish high school.
After teaching briefly and traveling through Europe, Pelin went to work at the university library. World War I intervened, and Pelin began to edit the military newspapers Voenni izvestiya and Otechestvo. By 1926 Pelin had resettled in Sofia as director of the Ivan Vazov Museum, which provided support for him, his wife and their two children. In his free time he edited such literary journals as Slunchogled, Veselushka, Chavche, Svetulka, Puteka and Septemvriyche.
Pelin wrote jokingly of events in western Bulgaria, in a literate, homespun tone. Frequently sidetracked in his attempts to write novels, he wrote mostly short stories. His two-volume collection Razkazi comprises forty-one stories and a novelette in which readers have discerned Pelin's first mature work. Lyubomira Parpulova-Gribble wrote in Dictionary of Literary Biography, "Typically the quality of Elin Pelin's first mature works is as high as that of the later ones. In the prehistory of nearly every one of his stories—early and late—there is a real event that set his imagination in motion. The action takes place in the country, and the main characters are simple people (peasants, village teachers, priests, and monks). An element of humor or satire is usually present."
For example, in "Napast bozhiya," a local priest and a schoolteacher clash over scientific versus religious perspectives while amid a diphtheria epidemic. In "Proletna izmama," a white spot in the green distance of the fields, which he believes to be a woman's white handkerchief, seduces a monk.
Despite Pelin's soft tone, his works were often politically and philosophically deep. In "Proletna izmama," for example, the monk's fascination with the white spot suggests how the seductions of the outside world are often concocted in one's mind; the story obliquely comments on the foolishness of censorship where evil is in the beholder's eye. In the stories from Pod manastirskata loza, too, Pelin uses folk tales and saints' lives to offer a new mode of Christianity that is not edged with violence. By setting conflicts between the religious and the "scientific" life in small villages of the rural shop, Pelin subtly argues for community harmony over ideology.
Pelin, combining humor and folk tales with realism, is a precursor to such Bulgarian writers as Yordan Radichkov. Critics considered Pelin's work delightful to children and suggestive to adults.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 147: South Slavic Writers before World War II, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1995, pp. 54-60.
Encyclopedia of World Literature in the Twentieth Century, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999, p. 22.*