name = Jean Colin
pseudonym = Vladimir Colin
birthdate = birth date|1921|5|1
deathdate = death date and age|1991|12|6|1921|5|1
occupation = short story writer, novelist, poet, journalist, translator
period = 1945–1991
science fiction, fantasy, historical fantasy, lyric poetry, fairy tale, children's literature, comic book
movement = "
Vladimir Colin (
pen nameof Jean Colin; May 1, 1921- December 6, 1991) was a Romanian short story writer and novelist. One of the most important fantasyand science fictionauthors in Romanian literature, whose main works are known on several continents, he was also a noted poet, translator, journalist and comic bookauthor.
Colin started his career as a communist writer, and, during the early years of the Romanian Communist regime, was assigned offices in the
censorshipand propagandaapparatus. Progressively after his debut in science fiction literature with " Colecţia de Povestiri Ştiinţifico-Fantastice", he concentrated on his literary career, being the author of celebrated works such as " Legendele ţării lui Vam" ("Legends from Vamland") and "Babel", as well as thrice the recipient of Euroconprizes. He was given posthumous recognition for his contribution to the genre, and an award named in his honor is regularly granted to established Romanian science fiction authors.
Bucharestinto a family of Romanian Jewish extraction. [http://www.romanianjewish.org/en/mosteniri_ale_culturii_iudaice_03_11_13.html "Those Jews from Bârlad who overcome oblivion"] , at the [http://www.romanianjewish.org/ Romanian Jewish Community site] ; retrieved February 20, 2008] [http://www.enotes.com/poetry-criticism/cassian-nina "Cassian, Nina: Introduction"] , in Carol T. Gaffke, Margaret Haerens, "Poetry Criticism", Vol. 17, Gale Group Inc., 1997, [http://www.enotes.com/ eNotes.com] , 2006; retrieved February 17, 2008] He was the nephew of Liviu Cohn-Colin, who was later a known lawyer employed by the Ministry of Commerce.
Vladimir Colin graduated from the Cantemir Vodă High School in the capital, and, during
World War II, together with poetess Nina Cassian, he attended informal lectures on the history of literature and the work of William Shakespeare, given by writer Mihail Sebastian. [ro icon Ovid Constantinescu, [http://www.romanianjewish.org/db/pdf/nr275_276/speciala4-5.pdf "Bun camarad, recunoştea virtuţile confraţilor, cu sinceritate, întotdeauna proaspăt, întotdeauna spontan"] , in " Realitatea Evreiască", Nr. 275-276 (1075-1076), May 2007 (originally published in "Democraţia", June 3, 1945)] He married Nina Cassian in 1943. The two divorced five years later, and Cassian remarried Al. I. Ştefănescu. During their period together, both Cassian and Colin grew close to writer and literary critic Ovid Crohmălniceanu, later known as a Romanian Communist Partyactivist, as well as to future literary historian Geo Şerbanand translator Petre Solomon. [ro icon George Radu Bogdan, [http://www.observatorcultural.ro/informatiiarticol.phtml?xid=4224&print=true "Debutul literar, necunoscut, al lui Ovid S. Crohmălniceanu"] , in " Observator Cultural", Nr. 128, August 2002] ro icon Geo Şerban, [http://www.observatorcultural.ro/informatiiarticol.phtml?xid=16577&print=true "Petre Solomon, confrate şi confident al lui Paul Celan. Prilejuri conjugate pentru a reflecta, din perspective noi, asupra unei prietenii inconfundabile"] , in " Observator Cultural", Nr. 345, November 2006]
After the August 1944 Coup against the pro-Axis dictatorial regime of
Ion Antonescuand the start of Soviet occupation, Colin worked as an editor for various left-wingmagazines, including " Orizont", " Flacăra", and "Revista Literară", and became a member of the editorial staff for " Viaţa Românească". As contributors to "Orizont", Colin, Cassian and Solomon supported the view that writers were supposed to immerse themselves into social struggles, an attitude which represented one of the main literary tendencies in the post-war young literature of Romania. They were somewhat close to the group of writers gathered around Geo Dumitrescu, while contrasting with the aesthetist group formed around Constant Tonegaruand his " Kalende" magazine, with the Sibiu Literary Circle, with the Surrealists, and with independent and distinct authors such as Paul Celanand Ion Caraion. Colin studied at the University of Bucharest's Faculty of Letters, but left institution after only one year, spending much of his time working as a political activist for the Central Committeeof the Union of Communist Youth(UTC, the youth wingof the Communist Party).
After the establishment of a Romanian Communist regime, Vladimir Colin became noted for his vocal support of the new authorities. In 2006, the
Presidential Commission for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship in Romanianominated him (together with Ştefănescu, Sorin Toma, and others) among the prominent Communist activists responsible for censorship. [ro_icon [http://www.ziaruldeiasi.ro/files/fstore/z_is/staticpages/Raport.pdf "Final Report"] of the Presidential Commission for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship in Romania, Bucharest, 2006, hosted by " Ziarul de Iaşi"; retrieved February 16, 2008, p.490]
Vladimir Colin made his science fiction debut contributing short stories for "
Colecţia de Povestiri Ştiinţifico-Fantastice", which functioned as a literary supplement for the magazine " Ştiinţă şi Tehnică" and was edited by Adrian Rogoz.Mike Ashley, "Transformations: the History of the Science-fiction Magazine, Vol. 2: from 1950 to 1970", Liverpool University Press, Liverpool, 2005, p.316. ISBN 0853237697] He became especially noted for his works in the science fantasygenre, for which he became the recipient of three Euroconawards during his lifetime (a recognition no other Romanian writer has since equaled). In addition to one of the 19 Awards at Eurocon 1976, he won the Best Novel Award, for "Babel" (1980), and the Lifelong Literary Achievement Award (1989). [ [http://www.esfs.info/esfs-awards-2000.html "The ESFS Awards"] , listed at the [http://www.esfs.info/ European Science Fiction Society site] ; retrieved February 19, 2008]
Colin made his debut with a book of
fairy tales, "Basme", in 1953, which earned him the National Award. This was followed by the science-fiction books "Pentagrama" ("The Pentagram", 1967), "Un peşte invizibil şi douăzeci de povestiri fantastice" ("An Invisible Fish and Twenty Fantastical Stories", 1970) and "Imposibila oază" ("The Impossible Oasis", 1984). Vladimir Colin's works in the science fantasy genre include the books of tales "Viitorul al doilea" ("The Second Future"), "Dinţii lui Cronos" ("The Teeth of Cronos") and the 1978 novel "Babel". His published texts comprise fantasy and science fiction novels, such as "A zecea lume" ("The Tenth World"), as well as a historical fantasybook for the youth, " Legendele ţării lui Vam".
For much of his early career, Colin was also known for his
proletkultpoems and agitproparticles in the official press. One of these literary pieces constituted praise for communizationunder Romania's first five-year plan: titled "Cîntec pentru primul plan economic" ("Song for the First Economic Plan"), it was one in a series of propagandapieces on the same subject (it also included works by Maria Banuş, Dan Deşliuand Dragoş Vicol). [ro icon Fernanda Emanuela Osman, [http://www.phantasma.ro/caiete/caiete/caiete7/06.html "Note despre poezia agitatorică a anilor '50"] , in [http://phantasma.ro/caiete.html "Caietele Echinox"] , Vol.7: "Literatură şi Totalitarism", 2004, at the Babeş-Bolyai University[http://phantasma.ro/ Center for Imagination Studies] ] The writer's move to the modern fantasy genre, which he helped pioneer in Romania, came at a time when science fiction literature was used by the regime to further popularize its ideological messages.ro icon Mihai Iovănel, [http://www.gandul.info/arta/pe-fundatia-sf-ului-romanesc-este-stantat-logo-ul-urss.html?3940;2356918 "Pe fundaţia SF-ului românesc este ştanţat logo-ul URSS"] , in " Gândul", February 16, 2008] ro icon Robert Lazu, [http://media.lit.uaic.ro/comparata/prof/mcg/basm.pdf "Metamorfozele basmului"] , in " Adevărul Literar şi Artistic", April 19, 2005] At the time, Vladimir Colin made controversial statements such as claiming that the fantasy genre was supposed to be employed as "a weapon in the hands of the people".
However, according to writer and journalist
Mihai Iovănel, Colin's writings of the period were equivalent with "an error in the system", for being "more aerial [than other works] , and therefore less useful [to the regime] "). Iovănel also wrote that, after the 1960s, Romanian science fiction literature, freed from the more stringent of ideological imperatives, was foremost represented by "survivors" whose early careers were marked by "sufficient compromises" with the regime, but whose later contributions to the genre were often outstanding. This criterion, he argued, applied to Colin, Rogoz, Camil Baciu, Sergiu Fărcăşan, and, to a certain degree, Ovid Crohmălniceanu(who, late in his career, also wrote various science fiction stories). In discussing the of "technicist mythology" on the science fiction produced in countries of the Eastern Bloc, Stéphane Nicot, a French writer and editor of "Galaxies" magazine, notes that, although being "economically backward" in comparison with Western countries, Communist Romania, alongside the Soviet Unionand the People's Republic of Poland, produced a "lively" science fiction literature.fr icon Stéphane Nicot, [http://www.cndp.fr/revueTDC/715-40782.htm "Une fenêtre sur l'avenir"] , in [http://www.cndp.fr/revueTDC/ "TDC"] , [http://www.cndp.fr/cndp_reseau/ SCÉRÉN - Centre national de documentation pédagogique] , Nr. 715, May 1, 1996] Also according to Nicot, Colin, like the Soviet brothers Arkady and Boris Strugatskyand the Polish Stanisław Lem, was able to evade "takeover by the single party", which had come to "largely suppress authors who were nevertheless not devoid of talent." Iovănel, who proposed that Vladimir Colin's books were reference points in the local history of the genre, also argued that his "Babel" may have partly plagiarized Philip K. Dick's " The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch".
"Legendele ţării lui Vam", also known as "A Mythology of Man", is itself written as a collection of myths relating to a vanished civilization, which is supposed to have lived in the
Black Seaarea at the dawn of time. Its plot centers on Vamland's founding myth, a fight between the god-of-gods Ormag and the human male Vam, one which starts as a "cat-and-mouse game" and ends in defeat for the family of gods and victory for the small tribe of humans. Horia Aramă, "Vladimir Colin. "Legends from Vamland" (book review)", in "Utopian Studies", Vol.13, Nr. 2/2002] Trapped and chained by Ormag early in the narrative, Vam and his mistress Una inspire their descendants to meet the gods' cruelty with a passive form of resistance, and obtain their own immortality in the hearts of people. Commenting on this plot line, science fiction author Horia Aramăbelieves that as "the symbol of the vital force of humanity", Colin's "hero without cape and sword" Vam, adds a new layer of significance to the ancient mythologies which are believed to have inspired it. In addition to his own literary contributions, Colin was a translator from Russian and French. His works in this field include the 1945 "Poemul lui Octombrie"—a version of poems by Vladimir MayakovskyVladimir Maiakovski, "Poemul lui Octombrie", Editura Cartea Rusă, 1945] —and a 1980 version of Jules Verne's " Carpathian Castle".ro icon Radu-Ilarion Munteanu, [http://agenda.liternet.ro/articol/1630/Radu-Ilarion-Munteanu/Cu-Lucian-Boia-si-Ion-Hobana-in-lumea-lui-Jules-Verne.html "Cu Lucian Boia şi Ion Hobană în lumea lui Jules Verne"] , at the [http://agenda.liternet.ro/ LiterNet publishing house] ; retrieved February 17, 2008] ro icon Richard Wagner, [http://www.revista22.ro/html/index.php?art=3151&nr=2006-10-20 "Arcul Carpatic. Topos, logo, ideolegmă"] , in " Revista 22", Nr. 867, October 2006] The latter, set in Transylvaniaand depicting several ethnic Romanian characters, was noted for largely preserving Verne's original spellings of Romanian-language words, whereas later translations attempted to identify their supposed source variants. Colin also compiled a French science fictionliterature anthology: "Un pic de neant. O antologie a anticipaţiei franceze contemporane" ("A Piece of the Void - an Anthology of Contemporary French Science-fiction Literature", 1970). He is acknowledged as one of the few Romanian comic bookwriters, and for thus contributing to an art and literary genre which was just building a tradition in Romania under Communism. [ro icon Vali Ivan, [http://www.jurnalul.ro/articole/93966/lumea-copiilor-de-altadata "Lumea copiilor de altădată" (interview with Dodo Niţă, head of the Romanian Comic Book Association)] , in " Jurnalul Naţional", June 2, 2007]
British science fiction bibliographer Mike Ashley indicated that, of all the writers who debuted as contributors to "Colecţia de Povestiri Ştiinţifico-Fantastice", Vladimir Colin is "the best known outside Romania".Horia Aramă wrote: " [Colin's] imaginary worlds entered in the most impressive European collections and are known in three continents." As a posthumous tribute, Nemira publishing house has republished Colin's fiction books in a "Vladimir Colin" author series. As of 2000, Nemira has exclusive rights on publishing Colin's work in Romania. [ro icon Oana Capalb, [http://www.observatorcultural.ro/informatiiarticol.phtml?xid=5504&print=true "Editurile româneşti şi Internetul"] , in "
Observator Cultural", Nr. 26, August 2000] "Legendele ţării lui Vam" was translated into several languages. It was published in English as "Legends from Vamland", a version translated, abridged and partly retold by Luiza Carol (2001).
In 1992, writer
Leonard Opreafounded the Bucharest-based Vladimir Colin Romanian Cultural Foundation as well as the Vladimir Colin International Award. [ [http://www.ceeol.com/aspx/authordetails.aspx?authorId=b74a386d-5a51-4466-ab2c-6156b2c5f90f "Portrait: Oprea, Leonard"] , at the [http://www.ceeol.com/ Central and Eastern European Online Library] ; retrieved February 20, 2008] Among the Romanian and international recipients of the "Vladimir Colin" International Award are Vladimir Tismăneanu, Andrei Codrescu, Nicolae Manolescu, and Şerban Foarţă. In 2000, Ion Hobanaand Gérard Kleininstituted the "Vladimir Colin Awards" for excellence in science fiction literature. [ro icon [http://www.cronicaromana.ro/stirile-zilei-31.html "Premiile 'Vladimir Colin' "] , in " Cronica Română", December 9, 2006] ro icon Michael Hăulică, [http://www.observatorcultural.ro/informatiiarticol.phtml?xid=18464&print=true "Fantasy & science fiction. Despre premii, numai de bine"] , in " Observator Cultural", Nr. 389, September 2007] Due to various constraints, the awards were not granted for a period of five years after their creation, and they cannot be granted to past recipients. According to poet and science fiction author Michael Hăulică, who was himself a recipient, such issues have led to the awards' decrease in importance.
Artists who have provided the original illustrations for Colin's books include
Jules Perahim(for the 1945 translation from Mayakovsky) and Marcela Cordescu(for both "Basme" and "Legendele ţării lui Vam"). ["Basme", Editura Tineretului, 1955. OCLC|61061487; "Legendele ţării lui Vam", Editura Ion Creangă, 1986. OCLC|18054626] "Legendele ţării lui Vam" has also been edited and printed as a comic book in Spainand France, with drawings by the Croatian artist Igor Kordey. "Pruncul năzdrăvan" ("The Rogue Babe"), part of Colin's "Basme", was the basis for a puppet theateradaptation, first showcased in 2004 by the Gong Theater in Sibiu. [ro icon C. Eugen, [http://www.cronicaromana.ro/index.php?editie=566&art=26743 "Competiţia naţională a păpuşarilor şi marionetiştilor"] , in " Cronica Română", November 18, 2004]
Leonard Oprea dedicated his 2001 "Cartea lui Theophil Magus sau 40 de Poveşti despre om" ("The Book of Theophil Magus or 40 Stories about Man") to Vladimir Colin and the Orthodox hermit
Nicolae Steinhardt, nominating them as, respectively, "father" and "teacher". [ Leonard Oprea, "Cartea lui Theophil Magus sau 40 de Poveşti despre om", Editura LiterNet, Bucharest, 2006, p.8. ISBN 9737893867]
*"Basme" ("Fairy Tales"), 1953
*"Zece poveşti pitice" ("Ten Dwarfish Stories"), 1957
*"Basmele Omului" ("The Fairy Tales of Man"), 1958
*"Legendele ţării lui Vam. O mitologie a omului" ("Legends from Vamland. A Mythology of Man"), 1961
*"Povestea scrisului" ("The Story of Writing"), 1966
*"A zecea lume" ("The Tenth World"), 1964
*"Pentagrama" ("The Pentagram"), 1967
*"Un peşte invizibil şi douăzeci de povestiri fantastice" ("An Invisible Fish and Twenty Fantastic Stories"), 1970
*"Capcanele timpului" ("Time Traps"), 1972
*"Dinţii lui Cronos" ("The Teeth of Cronos"), 1975
*"Grifonul lui Ulise" ("Ulysses' Gryphon"), 1976
*"Timp cu călăreţ şi corb" ("Time with Rider and Raven"), 1979,
*"Imposibila oază, povestiri fantastice" ("The Impossible Oasis - fantastical stories"), 1984
*"Xele, motanul din stele" ("Xelar, Tomcat Stellar"), 1984
*ro icon [http://www.sferaonline.ro/sectiuni/stiri/article/?id=1219 The 2006 Vladimir Colin Awards, at "SFera"]
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