Hristo Smirnenski

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Hristo Smirnenski
Born (1898-09-17)September 17, 1898
Kukush, Ottoman Empire
Died June 18, 1923(1923-06-18) (aged 24)
Sofia, Bulgaria
Occupation Poet, prose writer
Nationality Bulgarian

Hristo Smirnenski (Bulgarian: Христо Смирненски), born as Hristo Izmirliev, (September 17, 1898 OS - June 18, 1923) was a Bulgarian poet and prose writer.[1][2] He was born in Kukush in Macedonia, Ottoman Empire, (today Kilkis, Greece), which had militant traditions and an enterprising population. According to Tushe Daliivanov, a close relative and fellow writer, Hristo was from a poor family background. Hristo's father was an important and admired man in Kukush before his political disagreements over his socialist views with the Greek authorities resulted in him being imprisoned.

On 8 October 1912, when Smirnenski was 14 years old, the First Balkan War started and Bulgarian troops left Kukush. After the victory of the Balkan allies, disagreements arose and the Second Balkan War broke out. After invading, Greek troops burned Kukush, and the family of Dimitar Izmirliev, with thousands of other refugees, went to Sofia. Despite the poverty in which Dimitar Izmirliev and his wife found themselves, they made sure that their children studied; Hristo went to technical school and his younger brother Anastas helped the family by selling newspapers.

Early life[edit]

Hristo Smirnenski made his literary debut in 1915 during his second year at college in the satirical newspaper K'vo da e (Anything Goes). He first called himself "Smirnenski" in the magazine Smyah i salzi (Laughter and Tears). Despite his young age, Hirsto was very resourceful. Before long he had become one of the most sought after and popular entertainers of that time. In 1917 he first used the pseudonym Smirnenski, which remains in the classics of Bulgarian literature.

As a student in a technical school, he continued to work in a colonial shop. During this time, the First World War started. In May 1917 Hristo enrolled as a cadet at the Military School, and from his barracks continued to write daily and publish humorous publications. At the end of 1917 the [October Revolution] broke out. Command introduced school long quarantine in order to avoid penetration of communist ideas. In April 1918, he released his first collection - Raznokalibreni sighs in verse and prose. It has a humorous character and comes under the heading of Vedbal but was later criticized by its own author.

The Soldiers' Revolt in 1918 against Ferdinand had a strong impact on his conceptual development. Smirnenski witnessed the bloodiest clash near Sugar Factory in Sofia. Horrified by the cruelty with which the government defeated the rebels, he left the Military School in November and that his father was forced to pay higher compensation.

Adult years[edit]

After entering into civic life, Smirnenski became a member of the editorial board of Bulgarin (a popular newspaper), making his living first as a clerk II in the order management Transport, later as karnetist, and then a clerk in the Department of Economic Care, reporter, treasurer, editor, and proofreader.[clarification needed]

The period from 1919 to 1920 was a turbulent one in Sofia. In November 1919, a decision of the Communist Party was published in the weekly humorous artistic and literary magazine Red Laughter. Smirnenski's humor became more socially inclusive. He participated in demonstrations and rallies, including asking for amnesty for convicted soldiers, improving the material situation of workers, and others. Gradually, social affiliation became a crucial factor in his ideological views and he soaked in the knowledge that a fighter of the proletariat possessed. In the spring of 1920, he became a member of the Communist Youth League, and in 1921, the Communist Party.

The 1920 transition was a turning point in the Smirnenski's creative path.

The communists evaluated his aesthetic pursuits as manifestations of "decadent" symbolism of poetic achievements. His first real poem,The First of May, as alleged by this socialist literary criticism, was published in the May Day issue of Red Laughter.

After that poem Smirnenski began a series published in the pages of Red Laughter: Nee (June 26, 1920), Red Squads (September 3, 1920), The Street and Tomorrow (September 24, 1920) Herald of the New Day (October 15, 1920) Northern Lights (October 29, 1920), In the Storm (January 6, 1921), The Tempest in Berlin (January 13, 1921), Johan (January 27 1921) and others. A few dozen of his works were published in the party publications Red Laughter and Workers' Newspaper, representing a bright new aesthetic in his works.

At the end of February 1922, party publisher "General Workers Cooperative Society« Liberation »" printed the second and final poetry collection published during his lifetime - To be a Day. Printed in 1,500 copies, the collection was sold out quickly and a few months later cooperative "Liberation" launched a second edition, "To be the day!" Nonetheless, through this work, he rose to be known as the talented poet with bright and well-demarcated individuality - an artist whose work was highly socially engaged, which brought new value model, a new social and aesthetic class in the varied Bulgarian literature of the second decade of the 20th century. With "To be the day!" Smirnenski went beyond political and ideological commitment and selflessly said fervently humanity, the dream of happiness of mankind, turned in his creative philosophy. Here lies Smirnenski most vividly closer to moral charge Botev works and means that Botev finds opposition against anti-human - fight revolution. With his works, he inspired millions of people to raise against social injustices. With unique lyrical style, Smirnenski sings longing for happiness and everlasting love to the people philosophical summarized in the Herald of the New Day - "What a divine happiness of henbane is to be human" (later Smirnenski offered this poem from the book of poetry).

His hard tireless work and deprivations undermined the 25-year-old poet's health and he died on 18 June 1923 from tuberculosis. He had followed political events and kept his faith, optimism and sense of humor right until his last breath. In the eight brief year of his prolific career, Hristo Smirnenski wrote thousands of pieces of poetry and prose in various genres using more than 70 pseudonyms.

Despite his early death, he is known as a very productive writer - one of the last editions of his collected works consist of eight volumes. Lauded by left literary critics (for socialist ideas in the works), but certain of the modern conservative literary circles as the author of "Applied Poetry", Smirnenski is a remarkable poet and his poetry is energetic. His lyrics have a confessional character and most characteristic of them is the solemn and festive feeling of a need for change in the world, the bitterness of harsh realities and the willingness to fight for change. His works are still relevant today and are the subject of public debate (e.g. Tale of the Ladder) and online searches of literary criticism. His extraordinary humor and faith in life, along with his humanism are recreated in the finest form in his works. Despite being underrated, he is an inspiration to millions and deserves to be honored as one.


Smirnenski Point on Robert Island, South Shetland Islands is named after Hristo Smirnenski.


  1. ^ Britannica online Encyclopaedia, Bulgarian literature.
  2. ^ A history of Bulgarian literature 865-1944, Charles A. Moser, Mouton, 1972, pp. 223-226.


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