reede, detsember 28, 2007

the tsar's madman


No one lives for ever, not even great national writers. However, unlike many, great national writers leave behind immortal works of fiction. Your thoughts on the passing of Jaan Kross (1920-2007).

21 kommentaari:

space_maze ütles ...

I'm not in the slightest aquainted with the person, or the his writings.

But notable people who spent the Nazi occupation in a German prison, to later spend a decade in a Siberian gulag .. much appreciated as ammunition against Kremlin zombies describing Stalinist deportations as "punishment for nazi collaboration".

Giustino ütles ...

I am not sure if I should read him in English or in Estonian. I started reading a Jüssi book in Estonian, then switched to English when I realized the translation was almost word for word.

space_maze ütles ...

Really depends on the author's style ... not being familiar with Kross, I won't even vager a guess.

I'm in the process of reading Oskar Luts' Kevade in Estonian .. I doubt I would switch for the English or German, even if I could (which I can't - even if they are available somewhere, somehow, in English or German .. certainly not here). While reading the Estonian is infinitely slower, and I'm stumped every single time Lible (drunkard kellamees) appears on the scene, the Estonian used in other situations - especially by Toots - is just so damned much fun. Definitely is letting me experience the "feel" of Estonian in a way no textbook ever could have.

plasma-jack ütles ...

Kross in fact "collaborated" with the Germans, as a secretary or smth. He was jailed only when it turned out that he was leaking sensitive documents (: Read his autobiography, one of the best parts is where he gently avoids being drafted to the Legion.

plasma-jack ütles ...

a tentative list of Kross's characters:
http://epl.ee/laupaev/413003

plasma-jack ütles ...

excerpts in English:
http://www.estlit.ee/index.php?id=726

plasma-jack ütles ...

(and German, my apologies)

Andres Sehr ütles ...

In 4th year university I finally had an elective so I decided to sign up for one of the few high level Estonian literature courses taught outside Eesti. It was taught by Prof. Tiina Kirss who is now in Tartu and consisted of nothing but Kross.

At first I didn't think I'm make it through the course. Kross' writing style is unique to say the least. I started off with some shorter stories and slowly made my way through to Kolme Katku Vahel at the end of the year. Some books were better then others but considering the when he wrote most of his books the content was often "edgy". He's got some great novels and I'd recommend to most people unacquainted with his work to read one or two.

Mari ütles ...

That's the third time I've heard a foreigner mention the crazy fun of reading "Kevade" in Estonian. Must be something to it then.

As for Kross, his "Wikmani poisid" was in the required reading list in the 9th grade, and at that point I didn't know how to properly appreciate it I'm afraid. So far that's been my only contact with his works. Should hang my head in shame really.

Kristopher ütles ...

1) Kross was not a "love him hate him" kind of writer.

2) He should have received some sort of lifetime achievement award from the Nobel committee.

As it stands, the newswires list two Estonian SSR prizes as his his greatest honours. But this wasn't Juhan Smuul's or someone's successor, even if he wasn't overtly political. He was more major.

Gut instinct tells me to go with the Eric Dickens translation.

Andres ütles ...

I read "Wikmani poisid" before 12th grade. One of the best books I've ever read. (I haven't obviously read a lot of books, but still :P)

mpechter ütles ...

I would recommend to read Kross in Estonian, but I recall that I once gave the translation of "Professor Marten's Departure" to an English friend of mine. She described the book as one with a most beautiful language, so I would think that the translator made a fairly good job on that.

If you are already in Tartu, I would advise you to get it from the University bookshop (or from Rahva raamat in Tallinn).

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

Jaan Kross is the best known Estonian writer in German language since the translations of the 90s.

At one of Larko's blog one of Kross' translators Eric Dickens
commented about Jaan Kross (Dickens translated ones)
For the german view Kross' perspective on the Baltic Germans were of special interest. When he addressed them it was not seen as a parellel to Soviet surpression as much as in the SU itself.

Oz_EestiPoiss ütles ...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Professor Marten's Departure(in English)some years ago and have been on the lookout for other translated books. The story development and the language were both captivating.

However I know little of his background.

The comments about Kevade in Estonian has me interested in having a go. Usually reading in EestiKeel is v slow with the effect of losing the plot!

plasma-jack ütles ...

http://www.filmipood.ee/17536/
You can buy the TV-show "Wikmani poisid" on DVD. Has great actors.

stockholm slender ütles ...

Such sad news. He has been among my absolute favourites ever since I read The Czar's Madman in Finnish translation - I guess it must have been around 1980. Of course his production was significant from the Estonian perspective, such a a thing to have so authoritave artistic voice dealing with your country's history and culture, but I would say that his approach was really universal, universally relevant for our Western experience. There are not many such writers in any generation and quite a miracle for one to come from such a small nation. I don't know what they were thinking in Stockholm - he was absolutely of Nobel class.

Painter of waves ütles ...

When I started reading Keiserens Galning, I thought it was written by someone who didn't live anymore.

Then I learned that he was very much alive, and decided that he was immortal. A form of vampire, except he writes books to stay alive instead of sucking blood.

And then I got the report that he died. I wonder if that will be proven wrong, also.

Juhan ütles ...

Kross is one of those writers whose themes go on haunting the mind long after his novels is read. Kross' cobweb of detail is usually more clearly understood by the native Estonian reader, because it purports to bring together an interesting array of detail from a particular period of Estonian history. He raised the standard of the novel far above what many literary figures could dare have imagined was possible during Soviet occupation, and furthermore, his work has an enduring value which is difficult to measure at this juncture in time. I'd say that he was Estonia's only literary aristocrat-next to Mats Traat, of course!

plasma-jack ütles ...

Mats Traat is no aristocrat. He's a dedicated "mats" (as in "mats" and "vurle" by definition of Tammsaare), his sources of inspiration lie in the country, as Kross's interests lie in the town. Very different sides of a coin, those two. I, as a dedicated "vurle" would be all for Kross, if there was any need for taking sides.

Mari ütles ...

The day it became clear that the Nobel prize didn't arrive this year either, I remember my high school literature teacher act almost as if someone had died. Every year. Again, shame I say.

Cicero ütles ...

The Czar's Madman, Professor Martens Departure, The Conspiracy & Other Stories and Treading Air are all translated and published by Harvill.

So Far as I know, Kolme katku vahel, Wikmani poisid, Väljakaevamised, Mesmeri ring and
Tahtamaa have not been trnaslated- but would be delighted to discover that I am wrong.