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Alexander Volkov (writer)

Alexander Volkov
Born (1891-06-14)June 14, 1891
Ust-Kamenogorsk, Russian Empire
Died July 3, 1977(1977-07-03) (aged 86)
Moscow, Soviet Union

Alexander Melentyevich Volkov (Russian: Алекса́ндр Меле́нтьевич Во́лков ; June 14, 1891 – July 3, 1977) was a Soviet novelist and mathematician.

Volkov was born in Ust-Kamenogorsk. He wrote several historical novels, but is mostly remembered for a series of children's books based on L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

The first of these books, The Wizard of the Emerald City,[1] is a loose translation of the first Oz book, with chapters added, altered, or omitted, some names changed (for example, Dorothy becomes "Ellie", Oz is renamed "Magic Land", and Toto can talk when in Magic Land), and several characters given personal names instead of generic ones. Baum's name is mentioned in the first of Volkov books but the Soviet Union paid no royalties to the Baum estate. First published in 1939 in the Soviet Union, the book became quite popular; and in the 1960s Volkov also wrote his own sequels to the story. He liberally borrowed from some of the originals such as using the "Powder of Life" idea from The Marvelous Land of Oz but mostly created a divergent universe. From 1963 to 1970, four more books in the series were published, with the sixth and final story published posthumously in 1982. Other authors such as Yuri Kuznetsov, Sergei Sukhinov, and Leonid Vladimirsky (Volkov's original illustrator) have recently written additional sequels in Russian, creating in effect an alternative series of Oz books.

The context and situations found in the Volkov version are notably different from the original Baum version in their political tones. The situations, while still maintaining a childlike clarity of good versus evil, often involve the characters encountering very mature political and ethical decisions. The heroes are repeatedly called upon to defend Magic Land against invasions or topple feudalistic or aristocratic governments to free the populace. Both themes are often found in Soviet sci-fi and adventure literature (see the Strugatsky brothers' novels Hard to be a God and Inhabited Island).

Volkov's Magic Land series was translated into many languages and was popular with children all over the Eastern bloc. Volkov's version of Oz seems to be better known than Baum's in some countries, for example in China, in Germany (especially former East Germany), and also in Arabic-speaking countries such as Syria. In Germany, one author has written his own set of sequels to Volkov's books. The books in the series have been translated into English — or retranslated, in the case of the first book — by Peter L. Blystone, and were published by Red Branch Press in three volumes (two books a volume) in 1991 (revised edition 2010), 1993, and 2007.

Volkov's Magic-Land books

Other books

  • Wonderful balloon (The first aeronaut) (1940)
  • The Two Brothers (1950, rewritten in 1961)
  • The Architects (1954)
  • Astern trace (1960)
  • The Wandering (1963)
  • Prisoner of Zargrad (1969)
  • Land and Sky (1972)

References

  1. ^ Drew, Bernard A. (2010). Literary Afterlife: The Posthumous Continuations of 325 Authors' Fictional Characters, p. 197. McFarland & Company, Inc.
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