A History of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria. The Regime and Society (edited by Ivaylo Znepolski) has not appeared in a void. The closest context of this impressive volume (716 pages) is the series of books published by the Institute for Studies of the Recent Past, most of whose authors are also the authors of the studies in the History.
Probably every teacher of philosophy will have felt somewhat awkward when having to explain to different audiences what their science is really about. There are different ways of getting out of this situation, depending on the skills of the teachers and the expectations of the audience.
The context in which this amazingly comprehensive study is situated is the identity crisis of Bulgarian philosophers after 1989. More than twenty years later, the questions about the assessment (and self-assessment) of philosophers in Bulgaria as well as about their work during the totalitarian era remain quite sensitive and controversial.
In Journal extime, Michel Tournier makes the following analogy between literature and photography:
The smaller the aperture, the larger the depth of field, that is to say, the sharper the background will be. Conversely, a large aperture brings the subject into focus and blurs the rest of the picture.
Since his death, and in the conditions of democratization in Russia, Merab Mamardashvili has become an object of special interest. He is no doubt one of the most widely discussed philosophers today.
Dimitar Vatsov’s book is so provocative that it allows one to speak as much of it as through it. This is what I shall try to do now, where in a number of cases in speaking ‘of’ I will inevitably be also speaking ‘through’ it. I will begin, however, by speaking ‘around’ it.