THE FAKEL JOURNAL
1981 ‒ 2004 ‒ a bimonthly literary journal
2004 ‒ 2009 ‒ a literary quarterly
2010 ‒ 2011 ‒ published once a year (704 p.)
“Perhaps the best, the most intelligent and meticulously edited literary journal in this country and, what is more, with a long standing experience and traditions, with a wide range of interests, open to the world and its problems, always topical, on a high cultural level, etc., etc., is threatened to disappear …”
“Kultura”, December 21, 2007
Founded by the Union of the Bulgarian Writers and the Bulgarian Union of Translators (the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture joined them later as co-editor), the Fakel Journal was first published on February 28, 1981. On its cover one reads “a bimonthly for Soviet literature”. However, gradually, especially during the perestroika, on its pages appeared more and more the works of authors unpublished in their country and often incriminated such as Heart of a Dog and The Fatal Eggs by Mikhail Bulgakov; The Sea of Youth, The Foundation Pit and Happy Moscow by Andrei Platonov; We by Yevgeny Zamyatin; Mashenka by Vladimir Nabokov; Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman; Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak; The Kolyma Tales by Varlam Shalamov; Moscow-Petushki by Venedikt Yerofeyev; as well as unpublished poems and essays by Velimir Khlebnikov, Osip Mandelstam, Anna Akhmatova, Marina Zvetaeva and many others. As a consequence, what Fakel really became was rather a journal for anti-Soviet literature than what it initially announced, recognized as such by its Bulgarian readership. As a result, the print run of the journal went up to 25 000 copies and was expected to become, due to the publication of Solzhenizin's "The Archipelago Gulag" in 1989, 60 000 copies. It was then that the journal was threatened with closure. By that time the perestroika was in full swing in the Soviet Union and under the pressure of some of the most prominent Bulgarian intellectuals, the support of Literarturnaya Gazeta and a number of Russian intellectuals the journal was not closed. However, it was reduced to 2000 copies only for library distribution “due to the shortage of paper”.
After 1989 Fakel became an independent journal of Bulgarian and foreign literature in translation, critical reviews and political journalism and as such was an intellectual landmark for its readership. All this was due to an unerring flair for the really valuable, a capacity to anticipate not only literary but also social and political events and tendencies inside and outside Bulgaria, an objective and continuous presentation of contemporary issues as seen by world-renowned writers, artists, historians, philosophers, sociologists and politologists.
Its unique columns The West about Russia, Back to the USSR, The New World Order, The Theatre of Terror, Globalization – traps and perspectives, Europeana, Balkanika, The Culture of Transition, Language and Translation, Between Culture and Science, opened for the Bulgarian reader vistas to universal cultural values and the spiritual developments of modern civilization.
Fakel attracted a wide and varied circle of readers and authors because of its openness and its spirit of discussion. Centred on a theme, each issue offered possibilities for different and often controversial opinions which highlighted the complexity of problems and arguments. Remaining thus above particular political interests and intellectual trends the Journal imposed itself as a truly national publication. Professionalism in the choice of texts and high translation standards contributed to its unquestioned authority.
The longevity of Fakel was the result of its militant attitude and commitment, of its resilience and its will to remain in the name of genuine literature and objectivity true to what it represented, not to submit to the strong of the day but always remain ready to listen to the weak of the night, all those who bought it faithfully and whose nights it lighted up.
It is truly unbelievable that in spite of all the vicissitudes of fate this unique literary publication survived with its name unblemished for more than thirty years edifying two generations of readers and teaching them what high literature, art and morals are all about.
During the 31 years of its existence Fakel published more than 1 500 authors.
Here is a short list of some of the most outstanding among them.
- Petr Chaadaev, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Nikolai Berdyaev, Vasily Rozanov, Mikhail Bulgakov, Vladimir Nabokov, Osip Mandelshtam, Daniil Harms, Nikolay Zabolotsky, Zinaida Gippius, Fyodor Sologub, Nina Berberova, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Vladimir Voinovich, Yuz Aleshkovsky, Anatoly Rybakov, Yury Trifonov, Yuri Nagibin, Andrei Sinyavsky, Joseph Brodsky, Sergei Lipkin, Inna Lisnyanskaya, Vasily Aksyonov, Andrei Bitov, Georgi Vladimov, Friedrich Gorenstein, Vasily Shukshin, Sergei Dovlatov, Sasha Sokolov, Eduard Limonov, Lyudmila Petrushevskaya, Tatyana Tolstaya, Victor Erofeyev, Yevgeni Popov, Anatoly Korolyov, Andrei Kuchaev, Vladimir Sorokin, Vladimir Pelevin, Yuri Mamleyev, Vladimir Makanin, Vladimir Tuchkov, Boris Hazanov, Vladimir Sharov, Dmitri Prigov, Igor Yarkevich, Lyudmila Ulitskaya, Mikhail Shishkin, Sergey Gandlevsky, Igor Irteniev, Alexander Kabakov, Zakhar Prilepin, Pavel Krusanov, Vladimir Bukovsky, Alexander Zinoviev, Andrei Amalrik, Dmitry Lihachov, Sergey Averintzev, Alexander Etkind, Alexander Genis, Boris Groys, Oleg Kulik, Vladimir Kantor, Yury Afanasiev;
- Yuri Andruhovich, Andrey Kurkov, Czeslaw Milosz, Zbigniew Herbert, Stanisław Lem, Wislawa Szymborska, Danilo Kis, Milan Kundera, Milorad Pavic, Ismail Kadare, Vasko Popa, Ana Blandiana, Mirca Dinesku, Patrik Ourednik, Dubravka Ugresic, Slavoj Žižek;
- Leonardo da Vinci, Gilbert Keith Chesterton, Oscar Wilde, George Orwell, Carl Gustav Jung, Karl Jaspers, John Steinbeck, Arthur Miller, Philip Roth, Harold Pinter, Raymond Carver, Louis-Ferdinand Celine, Isaiah Berlin, Yukio Mishima, Zbigniew Brzeziński, Francis Fukuyama, Noam Chomsky, Cioran, Jean Baudrillard, Günter Grass, Jürgen Habermas, Julio Cortázar, Susan Sontag, Andy Warhol, Raymond Carver, Ryszard Kapuściński, Didier Eribon, Marguerite Yourcenar, Michel Houellebecq, Matei Visniec, Elfriede Jelinek, Orhan Pamuk, Constantine Cavafy, George Seferis, Mark Strand, John Balaban, Charles Simic;
- Yordan Radichkov, Konstantin Pavlov, Blaga Dimitrova, Tzvetan Todorov, Vassil Akyov, Lubomir Levchev, Stefan Tzanev, Ivan Dinkov, Miryana Basheva, Victor Samuilov, Boyko Lambovsky, George Markov, Nikola Radev, Svetlozar Igov, Dimitar Korudjiev, Sevda Sevan, Deyan Enev, Alec Popov, Krassimir Damyanov, Elena Alexieva, Vladimir Todorov, Kapka Kassabova, Katerina Stoikova, Alexander Kyossev, Georgi Todorov, Yordan Velchev, Dimitar Bochev, Itzko Fintzi, Eduard Zahariev, Rangel Valchanov, Dimitar Zashev, Mariana Todorova, Nadya Popova, Iglika Vassileva, Konstantin Chipev, Dimitar Sasselov.