Picture of author.

Jaan Kross (1920–2007)

Teoksen Keisarin hullu tekijä

76+ Works 1,161 Jäsentä 18 arvostelua 4 Favorited

About the Author

Image credit: Portrait by Zero


Tekijän teokset

Keisarin hullu (1978) 258 kappaletta
Professori Martensin lähtö (1984) — Tekijä — 160 kappaletta
Paikallaanlento (1998) 55 kappaletta
Rakkaat kanssavaeltajat (2003) 54 kappaletta
Wikmanin pojat (1988) 48 kappaletta
Pietarin tiellä (1982) 40 kappaletta
Vastatuulen laiva (1987) 39 kappaletta
Syvyydestä (1988) 34 kappaletta
The conspiracy and other stories (1995) 34 kappaletta
Kuningasajatus (1992) 28 kappaletta
Rakkaat kanssavaeltajat. II (2003) 25 kappaletta
Kleion silmien alla (1987) 19 kappaletta
Silmien avaamisen päivä (1988) 19 kappaletta
Tahtamaa (2001) 18 kappaletta
Kolmannet vuoret (1985) 12 kappaletta
Mardileib (2004) 12 kappaletta
Halleluja : kymmenen novellia (2001) 10 kappaletta
Taevakivi : [jutustus] (1997) 10 kappaletta
Tiit Pagu : värssromaan (2020) 5 kappaletta
Ülesõidukohad 4 kappaletta
Vuelo estático (2015) 4 kappaletta
Voog ja kolmpii 3 kappaletta
A People without a Past (2017) 3 kappaletta
Kivist viiulid 3 kappaletta
The rock from the sky (1984) 3 kappaletta
Vahelugemised. [1] 2 kappaletta
Careva luda (2009) 2 kappaletta
Vastutuulelaev 1 kappale
Maailma avastamine (2020) 1 kappale
Menny-kő (1978) 1 kappale
Teosed 1 kappale
La congiura (2015) 1 kappale
A marcipánmester (1983) 1 kappale
Die Verschwörung (2002) 1 kappale

Associated Works

Merkitty avainsanalla


Kanoninen nimi
Kross, Jaan
Rahumäe Cemetery, Tallinn, Estonia
Maa (karttaa varten)
Reval, Rusland
Tallinn, Estland
Tallinn, Estland
Tallinn, Estland
University of Tartu
Niit, Ellen (echtg.)
Lyhyt elämäkerta
Born in 1920 in Estonia, Jaan Kross was arrested by the Soviets in 1946 and spent nine years in exile and labor camps in the Soviet Union's eastern regions.



This historical novel is based on the life of Timotheus von Bock (1787–1836), an aristocratic landowner in Estonia whose liberal ideals and excessive devotion to honesty led him in 1818 to send Czar Alexander I a sixty-page memorandum setting out what was wrong with absolutist rule in the Russian Empire and proposing a new constitution based on accountability and the rule of law. Possibly not a completely wise move. Alexander seems to have been fond of Timo, who had been his aide-de-camp as a young man, so instead of having him charged with treason he went for the milder option of declaring him insane and locking him up in solitary confinement in a gloomy fortress for nine years (but with a piano in his cell!). After Alexander's death, Timo is released into house-arrest on his own estate, but he remains officially insane and therefore legally incompetent.

Timo's liberalism is also manifested in his marriage to Eeva Mättik, an Estonian who was a serf in domestic service when he met her. He has bought the freedom of Eeva's whole family, and sent her and her elder brother Jakob to be educated by a clergyman friend before they marry. Eeva is a very strong character in the novel, resourceful and tireless in her campaigns to prevent Timo from being forgotten about and eventually getting him released.

It is the nosy and cynical Jakob who narrates the story through his secret diary of his life with Timo and Eeva during the period of house-arrest. He takes care to give us the necessary context for Timo's "radical" ideas, which he classes as being almost as progressive as Magna Carta. Timo, after all, is a proud member of a social class that traces its origins back to the Teutonic Knights, and has spent the last six hundred years treating the people of the Baltic region as little better than beasts of burden. (Kross notes in an afterword that in addition to that, Timo almost certainly knew the family tradition that his grandmother was an illegitimate daughter of Peter the Great, and that he would thus consider himself to have more genuine imperial blood in his veins than Alexander.)

Of course, this book was written in the 1970s, and what Jakob tells us about abuses of absolute power, foreign oppression of Estonians, and the misuse of the mental health system to silence dissidents is clearly also meant as covert criticism of the current situation in the Soviet Union, and the Baltic States in particular. What he tells us about Timo's experience of imprisonment and solitary confinement has a very strong sense of personal experience about it.

I found this slightly unsatisfying in narrative terms because Kross is rather reluctant to go beyond the things we have actual historical evidence for, so for instance Jakob's imaginative solution to the mystery of Timo's death is only put forward as a very tentative hypothesis, and not followed up in any way. But it is very strong in giving us a picture of the social situation in Baltic states in the early nineteenth century and in analysing the complicated intersections between protest against an oppressive regime and real or simulated madness.
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Merkitty asiattomaksi
thorold | 5 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Feb 16, 2023 |
Reason read: Reading 1001, Estonian literature, historical fiction.
The background for the story; 1909 is the year four years after the signing of the Portsmouth Treaty, after the Russo-Japanese War in which at one blow the Japanese defeated Russia's navy. Professor Friedrich Fromhold Martens, an Estonian native. Martens became a professor of international law. Shortly after his career began, he was asked to serve the Czarist regime as an expert in treaties -- asked to put together a complete history of every treaty Russia and the Empire has ever been involved with -- all of this to aid in the decisions to be made in creating a treaty with the Japanese after Russia's defeat at their hands.

So this novel based on a real life individual explores the inner thought life the man. It also has flashbacks a century back to another Martens almost as if in parallel worlds.
This part made it hard to stay oriented to the story. All of the story occurs during a train ride from the professors home town to St. Petersburg but while the time is short, the story is very dense and hard to stay engaged. I think it was good to read it at this time when Russia is back in the news, has probably violated treaties and the US has violated treaties and wonder if we had a negotiator worth their weight, could we resolve this current event and are we at risk of taking on what other countries have previously failed.
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Kristelh | 2 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Mar 19, 2022 |
Estland -in de zestiende eeuw Lijfland genoemd- en met name haar hoofdstad Tallinn nemen in het leven van de hoofdpersoon van deze roman een belangrijke plaats in.
Rond deze Balthasar Russow - een chroniqueur en predikant die ook echt heeft bestaan-heeft de schrijver een imponerende historische roman gecomponeerd. Een omvangrijk werk van meer dan duizend bladzijden, geschreven in een prachtig proza met een verslavend lange verhaallijn. En inderdaad, al lezend vergeet je dat de roman speelt in een wereld van eeuwen geleden en raak je onder de indruk van de vertelkunst van de schrijver.

Een majestueus boek !

NB: ik had het als e-boek moeten kopen; door een gewicht van krap anderhalve kilo is deze pocket moeilijk hanteerbaar.
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1 ääni
Merkitty asiattomaksi
deklerk | 1 muu arvostelu | Jul 15, 2021 |
The Lost Jaan Kross Verse-Novel
Review of the Loomingu Raamatukogu paperback (2020) edited from previously unpublished notebooks (c 1952-1954) and with an Afterword by Jaan Undusk

Tiit Pagu is the newly discovered verse-novel that Jaan Kross (1920-2017) worked on during his Siberian exile in Krasnoyarsk Krai during the years 1952-1954 after having already served 5 years from 1947-1951 in a prison labour camp in the Komi region for his anti-Soviet activities during the early 1940’s. Kross was able to return to Estonia in 1954 after Stalin’s death in 1953 had allowed for an amnesty. He became generally known as a poet in the late 1950’s with his solo debut of Söerikastaja (The Coal Concentrator) (1958) and throughout the 1960’s until his first major historical novel Kolme katku vahel. Balthasar Russowi romaan, I-IV (Between Three Plagues. A Novel about Balthasar Russow, I-IV) was released in stages from 1970 to 1980. From that point onwards, Kross’s major output were novels which usually featured protagonists associated with Estonian history and about their stresses and conflicts of living and working under autocratic regimes in prior historical eras. These works thus managed to avoid directly criticizing the Soviet Russian occupation of Estonia by disguising it in the problems of earlier occupations of which Estonia had a several hundred year history to draw upon.

Much of what we can now know about Tiit Pagu has been unearthed from Kross’s correspondence by Jaan Undusk, the editor and the writer of the Afterword in this newly published edition. Kross himself was entirely silent about the work in his own memoirs about his early years up to 1960 in Kallid kaasteelised I (Dear Companions, Volume 1) (2003). Even the reason for his disavowal of the work has to be speculated on, whether it was embarrassment about its youthful arrogance or about the work’s seeming sympathy to the communist proletariat.

Tiit Pagu can be seen as both an homage and an attempt to out-Onegin Pushkin’s verse-novel Eugene Onegin (1833). Onegin consists of 389 fourteen-line stanzas with the rhyme scheme of "AbAbCCddEffEgg." Pagu, as we now have it, had a projected 267+ 18-line stanzas with the rhyme scheme of “a(3)Ba(3)BcDcDEEFgFghIIh” (I don’t know how to write subscripts in LibraryThing, so the (3)s after the lowercase a’s are to signify that the rhymes are 3 syllables in length). Otherwise the Capital letters signify 1 syllable rhymes and the lowercase letters signify 2 syllable rhymes in both Onegin and Pagu.

I call it “projected” for Pagu as there are several dozen stanzas missing in the recovered work including a supposed 8th Chapter of stanzas 220-250 which is entirely missing. Whether this is an aspect to the homage to Pushkin’s missing original 8th chapter of “Onegin’s Journey” or whether that part of Pagu is truly lost is unknown.

It is the masterful and inventive rhyming of Pagu that is its chief delight. Kross expands his source rhyming vocabulary considerably by also drawing on several foreign languages such as English, French, Greek, German, Latin and Russian. It is rather a joy to read it out loud. All of that combined with Undusk’s very thorough Afterword made this a real discovery and an easy 5 rating.

For the curiosity of non-Estonian readers, I have translated Undusk’s plot summary below:
Let's briefly summarize the plot of the piece. Korporant* Tiit Pagu is attracted to Lo Tarvel, an medical student, who gives him an odd operational task one day: Tiit is to go on a 50-kilometer ski trip from Tartu to the nearby Taadi farm to secretly deliver a letter to someone named Enn Karrus. On his return to Tartu, Tiit accidentally kills Ott Rammul, an agent of the political police (aka The PolPol) who has followed him. Tiit realizes that Lo is associated with the underground communist movement, and, as an involuntary murderer, he must now escape. Lo secures a place of refuge for him in Tallinn with an old revolutionary worker named Jaan Raud. Thanks to Raud, Tiit learns the works of Marx, Lenin and Kingissepp** in his spare time and develops a practical proletarian worldview while also doing basic work in a metal factory. Under the pseudonym of Ants Tamm, he returns to public life in June 1940, when both the blue-black-and-white flag of the Republic of Estonia and the blood-red flag of the Soviet Union are hanging on the wall of the Tartu town hall. It is time for a decisive choice. And this is where the novel ends. - excerpt translated from pgs. 154-155 in Jaan Undusk’s Afterword to Tiit Pagu.

Trivia and Links
* A member of an Estonian fraternal student organization, derived from the German Student Corps.
** Viktor Kingissepp (1888-1922) was an early Estonian communist leader.

The Loomingu Raamatukogu (The Creation Library) is a modestly priced one-time Estonian literary weekly paperback (from 1957 to 1994) which now publishes 40 issues a year as of 1995. It is a great source for discovery as its relatively cheap prices (currently 3 to 5€ per issue) allow for access to a multitude of international writers in Estonian translation and of shorter works by Estonian authors themselves. These include poetry, theatre, essays, short stories, novellas and novels (the lengthier works are usually parcelled out over several issues).

For a complete listing of all works issued to date by Loomingu Raamatukogu see Estonian Wikipedia at: https://et.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loomingu_Raamatukogus_ilmunud_teoste_loend_aastak%...
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Merkitty asiattomaksi
alanteder | Apr 22, 2020 |



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