THE BRITON AND THE BRITISH TEXT IN THE.
the lessons of British democracy were still being written and had the ring of novelty for native and foreign ear alike. Some of the representative names or texts reached the Bulgarian national culture in due time, yet not within a system of direct British influences or organised Bulgarian choices. The main problem was that the British and the Bulgarians had no way of communicating on equal terms. The former belonged to a colonial empire and enjoyed a secure place in the political and cultural limelight, while the latter formed a small and heterogeneous community on the territory of another colonial empire and shared a degree of general invisibility.
Until the 1840s there was no Bulgarian national culture. It was the ethnic culture of a minority group - or rather the ethnic denominator of a set of minority groups. The situation was such that in the Ottoman empire Bulgarians, qua Bulgarians, could not take part in the Muslim-centred administrative paradigm, nor in the Greek-centred paradigm of Christian shared knowledge: getting some systematic secular education meant gravitating towards a Greek identity. Therefore the cultural characteristics of a typical Bulgarian community of the period were not unlike those of a small religious sect: self-centredness and self-sufficiency, conservatism, poor pragmatic-oriented education, patriarchal value system.
The 1840s, however, were particularly important, literally formative, for the entire history of Bulgarian literature and culture. They marked the waning of the popular religious tract as a dominating presence on the meagre literary scene. They also marked the first appearance of works of fiction (mostly translations of translations) and also of periodicals.
The change was not as radical as it might appear to a modern eye. Into the mind of the then reading public, fiction inevitably came as a subgenre of (fact-oriented) nonfiction: a story was a true story or no story at all.