“ To Chicago & Back”
Aleko Konstantinov was a Bulgarian writer, best known for his character Bay Ganyo, one of the most popular characters in Bulgarian fiction. Born in a town on the Danube into a rich merchant family, he attended the Faculty of Law of the University of Odessa, graduating in 1885. He worked as a jurist in Sofia before embarking on a writing career. His first novel Bay Ganyo ("Uncle Ganyo"), describes the travels through Western Europe of an itinerant peddler of rose oil and rugs. Though impertinent and clumsy, the nevertheless ingenious Bay Ganyo has been seen as a mirror for a modernizing Bulgaria. At the beginning of the novel Bay Ganyo is seen mainly as trading rose oil peddler while at the end he is portrayed as a political man. His prototype is the Karlovo tradesman Ganyo Somov.
“To ChiCago & BaCk”
in 1893 The World’s ColumBian exposiTion is opened WiTh muCh noise and glamour. on June 20 The Bulgarian WriTer aleko konsTanTinov sTarTs for ChiCago and his Travel gives BirTh To magnifiCenT Travel noTes Called “To ChiCago and BaCk”.
The Book desCriBes The auThor’s Journey and sTay in The uniTed sTaTes, espeCially ChiCago and neW york.
It’s a journey of self-discovery juxtaposing America and Europe, America and Bulgaria based on his personal experience and imagination
aleko enCounTers The World – old and neW – Through The sighTs and smells of ChiCago and aT The same Time he is sinCerely impressed By The glamour of The aTTraCTions of The neW World.
The World’s Columbian Exposition
aleko oBserved and CommenTed on BoTh The phanTasmagoriC speCTaCle of The fair and The peCuliariTies of The neW World iTself.
“In the entire building, decorated with thousands of kinds of bulbs, broken into various shapes, shifting momentarily to such games between light and darkness …..that you completely forget you are.in the real world.. …..How the pictures of the One Thousand and One Nights fade compared to this grandeur!” A.Konstantinov
In the book Aleko Konstantinov uses various techniques and expressive means to recreate his own amazement.
“The niagara falls – The magnifiCenT game of naTure ThaT aTTraCTs Thousands of europeans of The neW World – here iT is in fronT of me!” “a Boundless reverenCe has Been prinTed on The faCes of all The people ….. if There is someBody Who Can desCriBe This vieW….. i CannoT!” a. konsTanTinov
“The coast of New York is literally dangerous ….. stations with steamships and railway companies and everywhere as far as you can see – it’s a busy, furious Babylon movement that is visible.” A. Konstantinov
“Broadway is one kind, forever dancing ballerina dressed with the patterns of the rainbow. Your eyes don’t reach the end of the street , it narrows, pales ….. and disappears into the sea.” A. Konstantinov
During his visit to 1893 Chicago World’s Fair Konstantinov was inspired to create the prototype of Bay Ganyo –one of the most remarkable national characters.
“Goodbye my indulgent reader! Forgive me if there’s anything you didn’t like. I had no intention of writing , but damn people - they found my weak spot, tickled me …... I hope you like the book!” Aleko Konstantinov