Ivan N. Petrov’s The Development of the Bulgarian Literary Language: From Incunabula to First Grammars, Late Fifteenth–Early Seventeenth Century examines the history of the first printed Cyrillic books and their role in the development of the Bulgarian literary language. In the literary culture of the Southern Slavs, especially the Bulgarians, the period that began at the end of the fifteenth century and covered the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is often seen as a foreshadowing of the pre-national era of modern times. In particular, the centuries-old manuscript tradition was gradually replaced by the Cyrillic printed book, which—after the incunabula of Krakow and Montenegro—was published in such centers as Târgoviște, Prague, Venice, Serbian monasteries, Vilnius, Moscow, Zabłudów, Lviv, Ostroh, and many others. Petrov shows how the study of old Slavic prints is closely linked to the processes that determined the emergence of modern literary languages in the Slavia Orthodoxa area, including the influence of the liturgical Church Slavonic language shared by the Orthodox Slavs, which was increasingly standardized and codified at that time. The perspective of a language historian brings new light to the complex and multidimensional issues of this important transitional period of Slavic history and culture.
Ivan N. Petrov is associate professor of Slavic Philology at the University of Lodz.
Preface to the English translation
Chapter 1. Church Slavonic and its Influence on Bulgarian: Conceptions of Description and Interpretation
Chapter 2. Incunabula and Cyrillic Old Prints: Questions of Taxonomy and Nomenclature
Chapter 3. South Slavic Cyrillic Paleotypy in the 16th Century: Basic Traditions and Source Contexts
List of Source Text Editions
"This monograph is a significant contribution to Slavic studies and part of a broader trend of research devoted to the systematic and synthetic inquiry into the history of the South Slavic languages. The book focuses particular attention on the history of the first printed Cyrillic books and their role in the development of the Bulgarian literary language. In the literary culture of the Southern Slavs, especially among the Bulgarians, the period that commenced at the end of the fifteenth century and covered the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is often considered a foreshadowing of the pre-national era that marked the beginning of the modern age. In particular, the centuries-old manuscript tradition gradually was replaced by the Cyrillic printed book, which—after the incunabula of Kraków and Montenegro—was published in many other centers. Petrov demonstrates how the examination of old Cyrillic prints of Serbian and Romanian provenance is closely linked to the processes that determined the emergence of modern literary languages in the area of Slavia Orthodoxa (including the influence of the liturgical Church Slavonic language shared by the Orthodox Slavs, which was increasingly standardized and codified during this period). The perspective of a language historian brings new light to the complex and multidimensional issues of this important transitional period in Slavic history and culture."
"Petrov’s book provides a fresh approach to the theme of early Church Slavonic prints issued until the end of the sixteenth century (‘paleotypy’) treated mainly from the perspective of Bulgarian and, more broadly, Slavic Studies. The main value of his work consists in its extensive bibliographic analysis of the issue and the reflections on the achievements of predominantly Bulgarian scholars in the area of methodology and terminology related to early prints. The importance of the English edition of Petrov’s originally Polish book consists in the international character of the chosen theme, usually studied within different national philology traditions, including Romanian. Thus, the book provides a well-arranged insight into the current status of Slavic scholarship on Church Slavonic early prints, scarcely known by scholars from non-Slavic-speaking countries. Moreover, the presented methodological and terminological approaches can contribute to the development of early print studies in general."
"Early printed books are an understudied area in the history of the Slavic languages, which tends to focus on the earlier manuscripts as witnesses. This book, an English translation of Professor Petrov’s Polish-language monograph, helps to rectify this situation by providing a new and broader perspective on the early printed Cyrillic books from Balkan lands, focusing on their influence on the evolution of the modern Bulgarian literary language during the period of the late 15th through early 17th centuries. The analysis is innovative in its breadth, which extends beyond the specifically Bulgarian incunabula to the influence on Bulgarian of early printed books produced in Serbia and Romania as well. Also innovative is Professor Petrov’s argument that because the history of the Bulgarian language is reflective of the broader historical and literary picture of the entire geographic area of Slavia Orthodoxa (the broad literary community of the Eastern Orthodox South and East Slavs), the development of Bulgarian must be studied through consistent regular comparative analysis of the Cyrillic early printed books, or paleotypes, that are pertinent to the Eastern Orthodox Slavs as a group. The monograph also contains a very extensive range of bibliographic sources that make it a valuable addition to the libraries of specialists in historical Slavic linguistics and philology."
"This volume is an indispensable premise for the study of the history of the Bulgarian language, but in a broader sense, it represents a fundamental introduction to the knowledge of the Cyrillic printed book of the Orthodox tradition from its origins to the beginning of the 17th century. These are mainly books of liturgical use, starting with the Gospels to the Psalter. The clarity of the exposition, the attention to methodological problems and definitions, the presentation of the different theses, as well as the rich bibliography make it a fundamental tool for future research. The author offers the complex panorama of South Slavic typographic production in a multidisciplinary key, ranging from linguistics to the history of the printed book, always in a broad historical-cultural horizon, capable of overcoming any narrowly national vision."
With its theoretical contributions and abundant empirical material, Petrov’s work gains significance for several national traditions of book printing in the Balkans. The conclusions reached by this study based on a corpus approach to the printed sources will serve as a mandatory point of departure for further multifaceted research in cultural and linguistic history.