In 1874, the Bulgarian writer Ivan Vazov (1850-1921) joined the struggle for his country's liberation from the rule of the Ottoman Turks. Vazov had to flee after the unsuccessful April Uprising in 1876. He served in the Russian army in the Russian-Turkish War (1877-1878) and returned, together with the Russian liberators, in 1878. Under Stambulov's dictatorship he lived in exile in Odessa (1887-1889). The poems he wrote in the 1870's praise his country's nature and country life, and describe the people's suffering under the Turkish yoke and their thirst for liberty. In the 1880's Vazov also turned towards prose, writing a number of realisic stories from his life in the Bulgarian country and Bulgaria's war for liberation.

Vazov is honoured as Bulgaria's national writer, and has had large influence on the literary development of the country. His seminal work is the epic novel 'Under the Yoke' (1888). Under the Yoke (New York: Twayne, 1971) enjoys the status of Bulgaria's national novel. Set against the backdrop of the tragic April Uprising in 1876, it presents the life of the Bulgarian people in the last decade of Turkish occupation, the ruthless world of the Turkish oligarchs, the tremendous mobilizing power of Bulagia's partisan apostles, and finally the April Uprising itself. The work is not merely a historical novel but is also a heroic poem. The characters of the novel - such as the chorbaggies, priests, peasants and partisans - contribute to a detailed tableau of Bulgaria during this period.

"Under the Yoke" has been made into a nine-hour television series by Stefan Kirov of Sofia, Bulgaria. The project was produced by Boyana Film, in conjunction with Hungarian Television.

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