Better known as a revolutionary, Georgi Sava Rakovski (1821, Kotel – 1867, Bucharest) also contributed to the 19th-century Bulgarian literary world.
The spawn of a wealthy and patriotic family, he attended monastery schools in Kotel and in Karlovo, and in 1837, went to study at a Greek school in Istanbul.
In 1841, he was convicted to death whilst involved in revolutionary plans against the Turks, but thanks to a Greek friend, managed to escape to France.
A year-and-a-half later, he returned to Kotel, only to be arrested again in 1845. Sent to Istanbul for seven years of solitary confinement, he was released in May 1848.
He decided to remain in Istanbul, where he worked as a lawyer and tradesman, and took part in campaigns for a Bulgarian national church.
Rakovski was soon arrested once more, this time due to his creation of a secret society of Bulgarians to assist the Russians in the Crimean War. While being deported to Istanbul, he escaped, and gathered together a group of rebels.
In June 1854, they transferred to Bulgaria. Between 1854 and 1860, Rakovski spent his time writing, publishing reviews, and avoiding arrest.
His best-known work, Gorski Patnik (A Traveller in the Woods, alternately, Forest Wanderer), he penned during the Crimean War (1853-56) while hiding from Turkish authorities near Kotel. Considered one of the first Bulgarian literary poems, it was not actually published until 1857. The published version differed from the first version, in that it had a clearer plot and improved style.
It concerns a Bulgarian man who recruits a rebel group to mutiny against the Turks. His aim in writing this was to awaken people’s spirit to the fight for freedom and to take revenge on the Turks for their cruelty. The novel opens with the main character admiring the beauty of nature on the Bosporus. A preoccupation with national problems and lack of freedom clouds his mind, and he encourages others to join him in a revolt. As the insurgents travel toward Bulgaria, the reader takes in their courage and trials of the journey. The work is said to “unite all the ideology, hopes and beliefs” of the Bulgarian people in their brave fight against the yoke.
Rakovski left Gorski Patnik incomplete. Written in archaic language, it was difficult to read, but still had a great influence in society.
Eighteen sixty-one found him in Belgrade, where he organised a Bulgarian legion, and travelling through Europe recruiting support for his country’s cause. While his radical views often met with opposition from more moderate minds, his writings incited youth to go against the Turks.
It was in this year that he wrote his Plan for the Liberation of Bulgaria.
After the Serbs dissolved his Bulgarian legion, he moved to Bucharest and organised a small group of revolutionary fighters, called cheti, to instigate unrest in Bulgaria, thus motivating the population to fight the Ottomans.
Led by Hadzi Dimitar and Stefan Koradza, 120 chetnitsi entered Bulgaria in 1868, and fought their way to the Balkan range before being surrounded by the Ottomans. True to their ideals, none surrendered, and, thus, all died.
This group of Rakovski’s was the first group of armed Bulgarians to rise up against the Turks. Creator of the Bulgarian revolutionary movement, poet, writer, journalist, Georgi Rakovski died of tuberculosis in Bucharest in October 1867.
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