“Global Dissident”: Georgi Markov as a Cold War Playwright and Exile
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Georgi Markov (1929–1978) was a prominent Bulgarian writer and, after 1968, a dissident and political exile, who ultimately broadcasted some of the most insightful and incriminatory depictions of totalitarian communism on Radio Free Europe and radio Deutsche Welle. His compelling presence in the emigration media became the reason for his political assassination in London, widely known as the “Bulgarian umbrella murder.” This article examines Markov’s thrilling journey from being a part of the Bulgarian top intelligentsia in the 1960s to becoming the “heavy artillery” in the East European emigration behind the Iron Curtain. The case study presents, through a variety of documentary evidence as well as analyses of his most important plays, the writer’s internal and external exiles. Markov’s allegorical drama manifests his social skepticism as well as painful realization of the relativity of ideological propaganda and enforcement of political oppositions during the Cold War. Drawing on his personal experience in the totalitarian East as well as the egalitarian West, the playwright exhibits the moral engagement, integrity, and freewill of an existentialist and “global dissident” in the exilic space of his late dramatic works.
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