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Khristo Botev

Botev's life and death has striking similarity in the deeds of two other poets and revolutionaries. In Hungary, Shandor Petjofi and in Ukraine, Taras Shevchenko, fought also with pencil and sword their nations' oppressors. The motherland of these three poets and revolutionaries was nineteenth-century Eastern Europe, partitioned among three empires: the Russian, the Habsburg, and the Ottoman one. Two strong movements, Nationalism and Romanticism influenced strongly their poetry and belletristic.
Botev's life followed the blueprints for a nineteenth-century National revolutionary in Eastern Europe. Born in 1848 (the year of revolutions throughout Europe), raised with the living traditions of hayduks (guerilla fighters), studied in Russia (influenced by narodniks), taught in his home town, and eventually joined the revolutionaries across Danube to cross the river again in 1876 and find his death and immortality. 

Christo Botev

(An excerpt from a letter by Christo Botev to Kiro Touleshbov)

  .... I'm writing to tell you, my friend, that I stayed here (Bucharest) with the intention of becoming a teacher at the Bulgarian school, but I was sorely disappointed. I have fallen on such hard times, that I can hardly describe my miserable state. I'm quite broke, the rags I had aren't fit to wear any more and I'm ashamed to show myself in the street. I live in a draughty mill on the outskirts of Bucharest, together with my fellow-countryman Vassil Levski. It is better not to ask what we eat, because we only once in two or three days get hold of some bread to still our hunger .... I'm thinking of giving a lecture at the "Brotherly Love" reading club one of these days, but I have no idea in what clothes I shall appear there! In spite of this critical situation I have not lost my courage and honour.... My friend Levski, with whom I share my lodging, has an incredible disposition. When things with us are at their lowest, he is as merry as when they are at their best. When it is perishing cold outside, and we have gone hungry for two or three days, he will be merry and sing. He sings while we are getting into bed in the evening and he sings the moment he opens his eyes in the morning. Whatever your despair might be, he will cheer you up and make you forget all your grief and suffering. It is a pleasure to live with such a character ....

Bucharest, the end of 1868




Last modified: November 24, 1997