Thursday, 4 November 2010

A Little Bit More from Bogomil Rainov's Sweet Propaganda

Bogomil Rainov is one of those authors, whom you either openly worship or you severely criticize. It actually depends on your point-of-view, or, to be honest, on your political preferences. I am not exaggerating even a bit because Rainov is known as one of the most prominent Communist authors in Bulgaria. If you have read at least one of his criminal novels, you will understand what I am talking about.

My first experience with Rainov was with the novel There is Nothing Better than Bad Weather, which I quite enjoyed. Emil Boev is not the typical investigating protagonist you may encounter. That is why I am not going to call him the Bulgarian Hercule Poirot, Sherlock Holmes, or even Mikael Blomkvist. Boev has his method of action and his own charm. His monologues, descriptions, and comments are full of self-irony, sarcasm, and a light sense of humour, which cannot leave the reader be bored even for a second. Of course, after the first novel, Rainov becomes a little bit predictable but still, if you fancy stories about secret agents, who try to uncover the traitors of Communist Mother Bulgaria, this type of literature is definitely for you.

The next two novels I read are Die as a Last Resort and Typhoons with Tender Names. I apologize for the poor translation in advance but I have no information about whether they have been actually translated in English at all. Anyways, in both novels we encounter Boev in a typical situation - trying to capture a Bulgarian traitor, who is selling important government information to foreigners. The only difference is that the first novel is set in London, while the second one - in Bern, Lausanne, and Geneve. All else is pretty much the same - Boev receives a task from the general and he has to travel to Europe, find the traitor, and capture (or liquidate) him. We are of course gently subjected to a sweet Communist propaganda - the traitors are the bad guys, who are so selfish as to sell even their mother country to the enemy. They need to be punished for treatening such a peaceful and ideal regime as the communist one. The European capitalists are also the bad guys, using every method and possibility to attack communism and bring it to its end. Here comes Boev aimed with the uneasy task of saving our country ONCE again.

What made Typhoons with Tender Names slightly better is the bitter chase of 9 legendary diamonds, whereas in Die as a Last Resort we are faced with a trivial drug contraband. I enjoyed Rainov's novels but only as a slight distraction from my overwhelming everyday routine. Otherwise, I am not a huge fan of his type of writing. Do not get me wrong, it has nothing to do with the propaganda (although sometimes it gets a little bit too much). I just find Rainov predictable and repetitive. The three novels are more or less the same; only the place and several details about the situation are changed.

Still, we shouldn't judge Mr. Rainov too harsh. After all, the freedom of speech in Communist Bulgaria was non-existent. If a writer wanted to be published, he had to write about the communists, or not write at all. Remember the case with Dimiter Dimov's Tobacco. The author had to add a whole new plot line and a whole new love story and to shorten his original novel as to fulfill the ruling party's requirements. Still, Dimov is an amazing author and this slight alternation didn't in any way decrease the quality of his novel. I read the Communist version and still Tobacco is one of my favorite Bulgarian novels.

Rainov just chose the easy way around. Or he was really a communist believing in the world-wide conspiracy against Communism. Whatever the truth may be, I don't really care. Although Boev sometimes utters a phrase worth remembering, more or less the novels are just a criminal story with a political touch. Definitely not my style of literature and I can safely say I am done with Mr. Rainov.


  1. a few years ago BR got some award - why? because of his AgitProp in communist service??

    give man a break...

    his insight about how brainwashing works is far more advanced than yours - for example, this observation shortly before Serbia's bombing :

    "There is a saying that he who sows the wind shall reap the whirlwind. For the time being the West solves this problem on the principle of division of labour: NATO sows the wind, and the Balkan nations will reap the whirlwind," writer Bogomil Rainov says in an interview for "Sega".

  2. also what can you say about this propaganda?

    The incisiveness of the pictorial message in Svetlin Roussev's paintings stems from the lucidity of thought, the depth of emotion, from his ability to give material form to human states of mind and feeling. In the diversity of these states - ranging from intimate lyricism to condensed tragedy - is reflected the manifoldness of human drama and the rich world of a creative personality. Svetlin Roussev shuns melodrama, avoids the ostentatious in the play of features and gestures, for he is aware that the externally effective is but superficial cosmetics which may disguise the absence of beauty, but can hardly create it. The painter looks for his discoveries in everyday life, in what is ordinary and commonplace. He knows how to observe the familiar from an inhabitual point of view, to reveal the customary in a startling and unexpected aspect, to raise the trivial to the fantasy of vision not through artificial inventions, but by penetrating to its intrinsic meaning, hidden behind the veil of the obvious. Here, the beauty of faces, figures and landscapes has nothing to do with prettiness and classical correctness. The artist apprehends beauty not as a physical appearance, but as essence, not as a charming envelope, but as a character. And that is precisely why he is able to express the inner beauty of an individual, or an experience, through the externally commonplace, the imperfect, even the homely. He does not imitate, but creates; instead of covering surfaces, he carves, as it were, the live form from within the inert matter, thus following the eternal principle which governs all conception and birth - from the grain to the human embryo.
    The objects and bodies in the paintings of Svetlin Roussev possess strength and substance precisely because they are not hollow forms, rendered through the play of light and shade on surfaces. Light itself acquires a singular materiality, because it is not a "developer" of the visible, but is inside the matter, because the objects, as if modelled in bright and dark, emanate their own inner light.
    Bogomil Rainov

  3. to me Emil Boev is like buddha in a secret service - to survive one must try to practice detachment

  4. Thanks for the opinion. I appreciate it. Of course I realize Rainov's insight about how brainwashing may be far more advanced than mine. I never claimed to opposite.

    I just say that from my point of view, a girl that was born in the year communist rule ended, his novels have this obtrusive and aggressive propaganda, which for me actually ruins the pleasure of reading the book.

  5. and his observations about consumerism and Western middle-class lifestyles are cool, no doubt

  6. from my point of view, a girl that was born in the year communist rule ended, his novels have this obtrusive and aggressive propaganda, which for me actually ruins the pleasure of reading the book.


    i'm also born at the end of soviet regime - so what? i'm an anarchist but curiously for my taste BR's 'ideological service' is not so 'obtrusive and aggressive'

  7. no no - i mean, anarchists are not fond of commies/bolsheviks etc. ... so why i'm not irritated by that old commie hack BR as you are??

    maybe because he's not such an ideological pervert as you try to paint him

    i guess, it's more about his criticism of consumerism that irritates you (than his 'praises of totalitarian regimes')

  8. I guess the reason is in my character. I see the world mostly in black and white. I either like something to the point of obsession or I just don't. That is why I maybe very extremely depicted Rainov's ideas. However, I just wanted to express the feelings I had while reading the novel. And they are exactly what I have written above.

  9. btw, why do you delete comments about Orwell's introduction to "Animal Farm" which was suppressed for some 30 years? and exposes how brainwashing is structured in a 'Free World'?

  10. ok, maybe it will surprise you but at least in 2 novels Emil Boev's deep respect goes to no other character as American spy William Seymoure (Boredom Forever (set in Denmark) + Богомил Райнов. Утро - еще не день (set in Germany))

    Богомил Райнов. Большая скука

    in those two novels he has to practice psychological jujitsu with an American William Seymour - both are cool cats and masters of their trade


    in Germany seymoure forces boyev to play part in his revenge plan against some crooked american official from rich and influential family who secretly sells weapons from US Army base