teisipäev, oktoober 09, 2007

Õnne 13: The First Season

[Actually it's "Eestlased Poltsamaalt" by Carl Magnus von Lilienfeld]

The Point: Sometimes I wonder about the veracity of Estonian nationalist mythology. The grand sweep of history is reduced to various invading armies, enemy occupations, et cetera, et cetera. Life was difficult in Estonia during most of the past millennium, yet at the same time life was difficult across Europe, not just in Estonia.

So what was life really like for the illiterate Estonian peasants of the 17th and 18th centuries? I would venture a guess that it was sort of like the Estonian TV show Õnne 13 except set during Tsarist and Swedish times.

There were village comings and goings, local displays of wealth and authority, the requisite backstabbing, a lot of drinking, some infidelity, and ... of course ... gossip. And I am sure that every successive generation had at least one lovable old fellow named Johannes who bore a striking resemblance to Kaljo Kiisk, may he rest in peace.

10 kommentaari:

Rainer ütles ...

It's actually Carl Magnus von Lilienfeld. What's the point of this? Fresh out of hot topics?

Giustino ütles ...

No, I guess it was my way of wondering what the Estonians of the 18th century were like, and inferring that village life then was perhaps similar to the way it is now, and sort of like the never ending TV show Õnne 13.

Rainer ütles ...

Well, what you see there is your typical 18. century Rousseau- and Hegel-inspired romantic idyll of quaint and quirky village scene with "noble savages" (Estonians) by the "civilized" (Baltic-German)sunday artist.No 13 and definitely no real Õnn there...

margus ütles ...

Life at that time was a lot harder than for peasants in the 'real' Europe, where they were personally free. The landlords here weren't interested in new agricultural technology because it was cheaper for them to just put more strains on the free labour. So it was six days of backbreaking work and on Sunday you heard how you were still going to hell.

stockholm slender ütles ...

Well, in Sweden (-Finland) peasants sent their representatives to Riksdag, in Russia they were bought and sold almost like any property. (Pushkin for example had to pawn some of his to pay for his wedding - does that happen often in Õnne 13?) This is not to deny that the lot of the farming community wouldn't have been hard, thankless and underpriviledged all over pre-industrial Europe but there still were significant differences. Not to mention that some significant progress has been made since.

Giustino ütles ...

(Pushkin for example had to pawn some of his to pay for his wedding - does that happen often in Õnne 13?)

Sadly, there are no surviving copies of the 18th century seasons of Õnne 13.

Laura ütles ...

http://books.google.com/books?id=GO6FgylR-IsC&pg=PR1&dq=residence+on+the+shores+of+the+baltic#PPP1,M1

Thought I'd send this link to Google books for "Letters from the Shores of the Baltic" (Elizabeth Rigby Eastlake, 1841), in case you hadn't seen it. Letters 7 and higher are written about her impressions of Estonia.

Giustino ütles ...

Laura,

That book is great! On page 135 she delves into another mystery of Estonia: leib.

Thanks!

Laura ütles ...

My pleasure -- I found it interesting too.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

If there is no written documentary about daily life, for me, the archaeology is the most reliable source of information. For example when you grind your rye with a hand mill of stone your entire lifetime, it will affect your teeth in not a comfortable way.
Living at these times can be painful. Or did they see their dentists regulary for implantations.