Dimitrar Dimov and his Plovdivan prototypes

Dimitar Dimov writer

With the reduction of the tobacco production an almost 150-year-old tradition slowly fades away and a page Plovdiv’s history is about to be closed. What is left is the material evidence – the buildings, and the artistic – preserved in literature and cinema. Among the artistic evidence is the novel “Tobacco” by Dimitar Dimov and the film, based on the novel, made by Nikola Korabov. The literary critic Svetlozar Igov says about the writer Dimitar Dimov: “The Tobacco Atmosphere in Plovdiv appeared to be the suitable momentum and scenery of the biggest creative venture of the writer”.

Go through the lines written by Dimitar Dimov – he knew the tobacco flavour, the mood in the tobacco city, the conflicts and the collisions, which were part of the tobacco production and trade… The stories told by his step-father Russy Ganev, a tobacco expert, must have provoked the creative imagination of the writer. In 1946 the first part of the novel was published in “Literary Front” with the title “The Tobacco Warehouse”. The novel “Tobacco” was written in Plovdiv. Here, as an associate professor of anatomy and physiology of domestic animals in the Agronomy Faculty, Dimitar Dimov had lived at several places – at the Trade High School, which previously had been the Agronomy faculty, at the so-called Craftsman School, today a Professional High School for Architecture and Woodcraft, and shortly at 14 Antim I Street. He had also lived in the house of Kocho Apostolov and Dr Marena Kolusheva, situated at 6 Cyril and Methodius Street, where his neighbor was the tobacco trader Nikola Kaishev living in his gorgeous house and offering him long hours of talks and discussions. There are many suggestions for who were the prototypes of Boris Morev and Irina, of Kostov and Gayer. Many tobacco centers claim to be the places where the movie “Tobacco” was filmed. It is accepted that the prototype of the “Nikotiana” expert Mr. Kostov was Kocho Apostolov – a young man who had no money, who started his career as a clerk in the company of Krum Chaprashikov – “Orienttobacco” in his hometown Dupnitza. Later Kocho became an expert, then a director of the branch in Plovdiv and finally became an independent dealer. Dimitar Dimov hardly knew Kocho Apostolov at first but then, while in Plovdiv, he became friends with him and his wife. Kocho Apostolov was a tall, elegant man, with grey hair earlier for his age. His appearance was not typical for the locals – refined clothes, showing extravagance and provocation. He had a vivid character, romantic touch, mild soul, kind and sympathetic personality. He was a bon vivant, for whom money was only a way to live a nice, interesting and easy life. He got married later in life. With the publishing of “Tobacco” in Plovdiv, it became clear that besides Kocho Apostolov in the novel was described by his wife – Dr Marena Kolusheva. Dimov did not hide this fact from his family. She has been an inspiration. Marena graduated high school in 1929. Her father, Nedlayko Kolushev, was a diplomat. He was an ambassador in Turkey during the First World War /1914 – 1918/, Member of the Parlament since 1919. Nedyalko died on 16 April 1925 during the attack of the “Saint Nedelya” church. Marena graduated the medical university, being one of the three best students. She worked for several years in Sofia and then moved to Plovdiv. She married Kocho Apostolov, who was 10 years older than her, and quit her job. In Plovdiv Marena was considered as an interesting and authoritative woman. Her marriage provided her the opportunity to enter the ‘Plovdiv highlife” without drowning in the everyday rhythm of trade. At the end of the 1950’s she went back to Sofia where she worked in the policlinic of the trade workers. She died in 1966 at the age of 61. In Plovdiv the writer Dimitar Dimov also meets the prototypes of some of his other characters – the partisan and later journalist July Levieva was an inspiration for Varvara, Nikola Balkandzhiev, the idol of the tobacco workers in Plovdiv – for Shisho

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