Encyclopedia of Romantic Nationalism in Europe

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Bolintineanu, Dimitrie

  • RomanianLiterature (fictional prose/drama)Literature (poetry/verse)Historical background and context
  • GND ID
    Social category
    Creative writersInsurgents, activists
    Bolintineanu, Dimitrie
    Bolintineanu, Dimitrie

    Dimitrie Bolintineanu (Bolintin-Vale, Giurgiu 1825 – Bucharest 1872) was born in a family of Macedo-Romanian origin. His father, a leaseholder and later a small landowner from Ohrid, was called Ienache Cosmad; Dimitrie adopted a “romanized” family name derived from his birthplace, following a common practice of the period, in order to mark his Wallachian naturalization. After studies at St Sava College in Bucharest and work for the local administration as a copyist with the State Secretariat, Bolintineanu studied in Paris (1846-48) on a scholarship offered by the Literary Society. He attended the lectures of Michelet, Quinet, and Mickiewicz at the Collège de France, and frequented revolutionary associations (having already become a member, while still in Bucharest, of the secret Masonic society Frăţia (“The Brotherhood”), one of the centres of the revolutionary movement in Wallachia.

    Returning at the height of the 1848 events, he unhesitatingly embraced the cause of the revolution, as editor of the Poporul suveran (“The sovereign people”) newspaper and as a member of the Central Election Committee (which prepared the elections for a new Constitutive Assembly). After the defeat of the revolution, he moved, by way of Paris (where he contributed articles to the periodicals of the Romanian revolutionary diaspora and published a propaganda [amphlet in 1854, Les principautés Roumaines) to Constantinople, from where he undertook travels in the Middle East. In 1857 he returned to Romania and dedicated himself to the cause of the unification of the Principalities. In 1858 he edited the unionist newspaper Dâmboviţa, supported the election of Alexandru Ioan Cuza as ruler in both Principalities, and was among his closest counsellors. He became Minister of Public Education in Mihail Kogălniceanu’s cabinet, in which capacity he was in charge of the secularization of monastic estates. After Cuza’s abdication and exile (1866), he withdrew from political life, suffering from severe depression, yet continuing to write and publish extensively, mostly in order to pay off the debts he had accumulated while in exile.

    A prolific writer, he practised all the literary genres close to the Romantic generation of 1848: lyric and epic poetry, biographies, travel notes, novels, political satires, revolutionary articles, and propaganda pamphlets in favour of unification, historical dramas, historical and “ethno-psychological” studies. His historical legends (Legende sau basme naţionale în versuri; “National legends or fairy tales in verse”) began appearing in 1858; his collection of supernatural ballads Legende şi balade (“Legends and ballads”) was reprinted often and became a set textbook for schools. Bolintineanu also wrote novels (Manoil, 1855; Elena, 1862). His writing is uneven in quality but exemplifies the principles of revolutionary Romanian Romanticism, for which literature was an instrument of political struggle.

    Bolintineanu’s nationalism, echoed in the topic of each and every literary genre he approached, answered the national and popular programme of the school around the Dacia literară (“Literary Dacia”) magazine. Colecţia din poeziile domnului D. Bolintineanu (“The collected poems of Mr D. Bolintineanu”, his first volume; 1847) already made clear, in the preface, the author’s patriotic and national position: all literary forms and topics are intensified by a heroic national ideal. Nowadays, Bolintineanu is outmoded, read only by specialists; even so, his name remains a household word, as the prototypical national-activist poet, and author of a few well-known textbook examples of patriotic verse.

    Word Count: 541

    Article version
  • Cornea, Paul; Aproapele şi departele (Bucharest: Cartea Românească, 1990).

    Petrescu, Ioana Em.; “D. Bolintineanu”, in Zaciu, Mircea; Papahagi, Marian; Sasu, Aurel (eds.); Dicţionarul esenţial al scriitorilor români (Bucharest: Albatros, 2000), 96-98.

    Simion, Eugen; Dicţionarul general al literaturii Române (vol. 1; Bucharest: Univers enciclopedic, 2004).

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    All articles in the Encyclopedia of Romantic Nationalism in Europe edited by Joep Leerssen are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://www.spinnet.eu.

    © the author and SPIN. Cite as follows (or as adapted to your stylesheet of choice): Both, Ioana, 2022. "Bolintineanu, Dimitrie", Encyclopedia of Romantic Nationalism in Europe, ed. Joep Leerssen (electronic version; Amsterdam: Study Platform on Interlocking Nationalisms, https://ernie.uva.nl/), article version, last changed 20-04-2022, consulted 14-06-2024.