Building peace in the minds of men and women

UNESCO Director-General pays tribute to philosopher and historian of ideas Tzvetan Todorov

07 February 2017


Tzvetan Todorov
CC BY-SA 3.0/Ji-Elle

With the disappearance of Tzvetan Todorov, on 7 February 2017, the world loses a genuine humanist, semiologist, political theorist and critical thinker. His convictions, his path from linguistics to the history of ideas, particularly linked to the Age of the Enlightenment that marked a turning point in history, will continue to inspire many of us for a long time and continue to incite reflection," said Irina Bokova.

"I commend the work of a great French essayist of Bulgarian origin, born in Sofia in 1939, and a champion of reflection on Western humanism and European history. In my eyes, Tzvetan Todorov has represented the "honest man" in all its complexity, in the sharpness of critical view of the world that is also caring and that shows deep attachment to the bond between all women and men,” added the Director-General.

"In view of the upheavals affecting our societies, it is especially fruitful to explore the analysis of Tzvetan Todorov on the notions of otherness and memory - two words that are fully at the heart of UNESCO's concerns as well," said Irina Bokova.

Co-founder of the journal Poétique with Gérard Genette, Tzvetan Todorov was the author of an ‘Introduction to Fantastic Literature’, a theory of the literary genre that is still authoritative, with his division of the supernatural between the fantastic, the marvelous and the strange.