Stefan Albert Gechev
Poet, playwright, prose writer, translator, literary critic and diplomat
1911 – 2000
Stefan Gechev was born in Rousse in 1911. His father Albert Gechev was a literary critic and his mother Rada a French teacher.
In 1934 he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Slavic Philology from Sofia University “St Kliment Ohridski” and after working for a short period in a school, he went to Athens to learn Greek.
From 1936 to 1942 he worked at the Bulgarian Legation in Athens.
From 1942 he worked in the Bulgarian Legation in Bratislava, where he remained until 1945 (while for a part of that period he was in isolation at the request of the Slovak authorities).
From 1945 to 1949 he worked at the Bulgarian Legation in Warsaw.
After returning to Sofia, Gechev was fired by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs because he was not a member of the Bulgarian Communist Party.
He started working as an editor in various magazines. Since the beginning of the 1950s he began to translate Greek poetry into Bulgarian.
In 1996 Stefan Gechev received the Order of the Golden Cross of the Legion of Honor on behalf of the President of the Republic of Greece. In 1999 he received a Gold Medal from the Greek Translators’ Union.
He was awarded the title “Cavalier of the Order of Arts and Culture” by the French Minister of Culture and Information in 1998.
Stefan Gechev died in Sofia in January 2000.
Of his creative work should be noted: a volume of poetry “The Notebook” (published in 1967 but banned by the authorities because it was thought not to conform to the ideology of the Communist Party), the novel “The Bridge” (1983), a collection of short stories “The Cruel Benefactor” (1994), a compilation of stories “The Convicted of the Señora” (1994), the novels “Victoria and Her Sons” (1995) and “Know Yourself” (his swan song, published in 2000 after his death). He also published the play “Barbarian Golgotha” (1999), which plays at the “NDK” Theater, and the play “The Process of the Disappearance of the Body of Jesus the Nazarene”, staged at the Washington Center for the Arts.
From his translation work, he translates the poems of Konstantinos Kavafis, Aris Dikteos, Giorgos Seferis, Odysseas Elitis and Yannis Ifantis from Greek into Bulgarian, making them accessible to Bulgarian audiences for the first time. From French, he translates an anthology of French poetic-surrealists and also “Maldoor’s Songs” by Count de Lautreamon. He also translates the artwork “Alice in the Mirror World” by Louis Carroll from English into Bulgarian.
He writes his autobiography between 1936-1992 and gives it the title “My Greek Friends”. This work applies to all of his Greek friends with whom he made an acquaintance during this nearly 60-year period.
His creative work has greatly contributed to the introduction of the Bulgarian people to the Greek culture, as well as to the subsequent friendship between the two peoples. The bridge he builds in his time still exists today, with the two nations still building it to develop their friendship to this day.
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