“Turkish Pasha” or the Misfortunes of Virtue Cover Image
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„Турски паша”, или неволите на добродетелта
“Turkish Pasha” or the Misfortunes of Virtue

Author(s): Anna Alexieva
Subject(s): Literary Texts
Published by: Институт за литература - BAN
Keywords: Karavelov; “Turkish Pasha”; National Revival; Marquis de Sade; “Justine; or the Misfortunes of Virtue”

Summary/Abstract: The article explores Luben Karavelov’s novel “Turkish Pasha”, accepting that the text is a good illustration of the way Bulgarian literature from the period of the National Revival considers the sphere of the violent and the sadistic on the one hand and the nature of martyr-and-victim experience on the other. The emphasis is laid upon violence and the ritualization of torture, bodily violation in Karavelov’s novel which inevitably leads to analogies with works written nearly a century earlier, like for example “Justine, or the Misfortunes of Virtue” by Marquis de Sade, no matter how paradoxical these parallels may seem because of the different socio-cultural context and the receptive status of the authors. Both works are built upon the principle of “text within text”, in both cases the narrators are women and both works use the categorical apparatus of the Enlightenment discourse. The article considers the obvious intertextual closeness, yet it does not unfold as a typical comparative analysis, because above all it is interested in the attempt of Bulgarian literature to build its own model of making sense of violence and suffering, which without being totally different from the available European practices and concepts, has its own specificity because it is refracted through the prism of national identity. This model is studied on different levels: with respect to the nature of the sadistic subject (which coincides with the character of the Turk to the extent to which it is doubly negated - as a foreign invader and a figure with power, a tyrant), with respect to the object of sadistic violation (the victims are always young, virtuous, and innocent) and from the point of view of the ritualization of the punishments and the sexual aggression of the oppressor. The motif of incest is explored as an final phase of the regression of sadistic violation. This motif turns into the tragic culmination of Karavelov’s text. We can see in this motif not only the familiar folklore matrix (the meeting between the brother and the sister, who failed to recognize each other), but also the Revivalist concept of retribution because of the lack of memory. Karavelov’s characters are punished because they have forgotten who they are, because of their failure to preserve their national identity. The text spares only the nun, who tells the story about the endless Bulgarian sufferings, who describes the misfortunes of virtue, following the ideological point of view of the time that a happy ending is impossible under the yoke.

  • Issue Year: 2010
  • Issue No: 2
  • Page Range: 188-196
  • Page Count: 8
  • Language: Bulgarian