Who was Sava Popov? The Unlocking of an Archive
Who was Sava Popov? The Unlocking of an Archive


Who was Sava Popov? The Unlocking of an Archive

African Tales – unpublished

During the Second World War, Sava Popov wrote five children’ books.

Ат the beginning of 1944, the war was in its last phase. While in the city of Popovo on a leave from the army, Sava Popov completed the manuscript of a collection of African tales. It seems that they were prepared for publication, because in the archive we find the original illustrations for them. These were drawn by the twenty-year-old Stoyan Anastasov, who later became a popular children’s illustrator in Bulgaria. In 1956, Sava Popov again tried to have the tales published, editing the entire manuscript and adding eight more new texts. But even in the years of socialism, this book did not see the light of day.

n the typewritten manuscript, the title of the collection is Piu-Piu the Chick. African Tales Retold. Piu-Piu is the main character of the eponymous story. He was orphaned at a young age because of the Bad King, who condemned his parents to starvation. The chick sets out for the king’s palace to “take what he is owed” – namely, a stolen sack of corn. He meets the other protagonists along the way and tells them about his fate and his plan. They decide to accompany him, hopping into his hunting bag. This leap is possible thanks to a magical transformation: the stick becomes as small as a matchstick, the Fox – like a grain of millet, the Hyena – like grain of wheat, and the Lion – like a peppercorn. Even the Elephant and the Soldier manage to get into the bag because they have shrunk to the size of a kernel of corn and a bean. With the bag full of miniature

creatures slung over his shoulder, the brave chick arrives at the royal palace. There he gets into a number of frightening and very dangerous situations, but he overcomes them thanks to his friends, who have once again magically turned into big and strong heroes. In the end, justice prevails – the defeated king opens the granaries, fills a sack with corn, and gives it to the chick. The soldier jumps out of the bag, spits on his hands, and throws the sack over his shoulder. The two set off back home.

Тhis unpublished collection by Sava Popov contains some of his finest texts for children. Constructed according to the principles of the magical fairy tale, they are grounded the standards of both Bulgarian and world literature. The writer transfers the storylines to Africa, but he actually writes about the problems that torment him – war, social injustice, poverty.