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    STUDIA PHILOLOGIA - Ediţia nr.3 din 2006  

  Rezumat:  Nora and Нopa or Happiness as a Social Structure. The Latin and Cyrillic transcription of Ibsen’s heroine’s name in the title of this paper, devoted to a peculiar moment in the reception of A Doll’s House in Bulgaria, means to highlight a difference not only in terms of geography, but also a difference between two ages and between two societies set apart by the particular stages of their development, and last but not least a difference between two national frames of reference. While the publication of A Doll’s House in Bulgarian at the very end of the 19th c. (1897) may not be so remote from the work’s original release (1879), it is this difference that determines the interpretations of Ibsen’s drama as well as its respective functions in the two socio-historical contexts. As a matter of fact, Ibsen’s plays put Bulgarian culture in touch with the complex correlation between the ancient and the modern; between past and present; between the assets of tradition and the shortcomings inherent to novelty. These shortcomings stemmed from the exigencies of progress after the recent liberation from a 5-century Ottoman rule, as well as from the hopes for a government, social organization and civil attitudes in the young independent state shaped in the spirit of liberalism. The leading figures of Bulgaria’s art and culture were impressed by the Norwegian writer’s warnings and revelations that resulted from his intent probing into the human soul and his profound insights into social reality, which, to him, was moulded by the spiritual aspects of humanity, and social reforms, both positive and negative, were determined by these aspects. In 1907, Ivan Vazov (1850-1921), Bulgaria’s greatest writer and pioneer of the country’s new literary culture, published a novella, significantly entitled Nora. The work was prompted by the Bulgarian writer’s ambition to critically oppose Ibsen’s views on women’s freedom. This novella is a moralizing tract rather than a psychologically motivated work of art. The didactic bias was undoubtedly determined by Vazov’s serious concern for the moral stability of the Bulgarian society. He was deeply troubled by the growing number of young Bulgarians influenced by Ibsenism. To him, this “epidemic” posed a great danger to marriage, the family, and the nation at large. Vazov’s heroine Lubitsa deserts her husband and her infant. Her fleeing the family home in Rousse is prompted by the performance of A Doll’s House in the same town…. A great writer and humanist, Vazov had certainly no hidden agenda in his attempt to prevent the penetration of the decay, which he considered peculiar to Western civilization, into the more vulnerable and intimate spheres of the Bulgarian social world. He must have been aware of the inefficiency of his efforts to oppose man’s free will to create for the sake of others and serve elevated ideals, to the will of Ibsen’s heroine, which, to him, typified an individualism alien to the Bulgarian emotional frame and to the Bulgarian perception of duty to kin and society. But for Nora and Lubitsa alike, material well-being is less valuable than true love or its ideal image. Both heroines do not actually rise against marriage itself. They rebel against the hypocrisy of marital life, against the essence of marriage as a repressive mechanism used to manipulate the individual, as a social structure that excludes human intimacy, equality and mutual respect – a structure that fails to make itself equivalent to happiness. The fact that A Doll’s House has withstood the test of time and has stepped into the future along with most of Ibsen’s plays, as well as the fact that Vazov’s work has not lost its significance, if only within the confines of a single country, shows that great literature survives when it sparks off debate, when it lends itself to pluralistic readings and perceptions, saving it from loss of appeal and from oblivion. In fact, although Vazov’s novella does not share the felicitous destiny of most of his works, and has been overlooked by many readers today, it still remains part of Bulgarian literature’s history as a an interesting and revealing fact, which alerts us to the fact that Nora and Нора is actually the same name, the name of two women. They are as remote as they are close, despite the different environments and the different circumstances that have built up their personalities. Their kinship is not based on origin or destiny, but, rather, on the high price they both have had to pay for the dream of their lives.  
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