Theun de Vries (1907-2005): a Dutch Author in the Communist World – Texts, Contexts and Translations
Theun de Vries (1907-2005) was one of the most prolific Dutch writers in the 20th century: he was the author of over 100 novels, essays and historical biographies.
Since 1936 he was a member of the Communist Party of the Netherlands (CPN, Communistische Partij van Nederland). He remained that also after the war; he accepted the Cold War politics of the USSR and it invasion in Hungary (1956). But after the Soviet invasion in Czechoslovakia (1968) he left the CPN in 1971 – still being a Marxist.
De Vries was one of the most translated Dutch authors in all countries of the “Eastern Bloc”. His social and historical novels (including Rembrandt, 1931, Stiefmoeder aarde, 1936, De vrijheid gaat in ‘t rood gekleed, 1945, Het meisje met het rode haar, 1956, Moergrobben, 1964, Vincent in Den Haag, 1972) were often translated in Russian, Polish, Czech, Hungarian...
He himself translated in 1963 in the Netherlands, being still member of the Dutch Communist Party, the novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solshenitsyn. And: he got the highest literary award of the Netherlands, the P.C. Hooft Award. In this paper I want to show the complicated life and the complex contexts of the oeuvre of de Vries, mirrored in the translations of his novels in the countries of the “Eastern Bloc”.