A Postmodern Alchemy of Historiography and Bogomil Myths
Vladimir Zarev’s Novel Rev. Bogomil and the Perfection of Fear
Svetlana Vassileva (St. Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia, Bulgaria)
The Bogomil theme has always been an indispensable part of Bulgarian Studies, not only because the Bogomil heresy was the most notorious and vital heresy in the Middle Ages in Bulgaria but also because it has become an integral part of Bulgarian religious and political traditions – defining and negating them at one and the same time. Vladimir Zarev’s novel Rev. Bogomil and the Perfection of Fear (1998) can be read as a postmodern alchemy of historiography and the Bogomil myths and especially the myth about the persona of the most prominent of the heresy leaders, Reverend Bogomil. The new postmodern myth Zarev creates uses all the ingredients of medieval culture referring directly to the Bogomils (unofficial and apocryhal saints’ biographies, folklore legends, fairy-tales) but at the same time makes ample use of all the ‘recipes’ for writing neo-mythical narratives following Thomas Mann, Umberto Eco and Emilian Stanev. The paper will analyze how the novel utilizes the mechanisms for creation of historical myths, the antinomy of faith and heresy, good and evil, Word and Spirit.