Anton Hansen Tammsaare

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Anton Hansen Tammsaare
Anton Hansen Tammsaare (born as Anton Hansen, 30 January, 1878 - 1 March, 1940), was an Estonian writer whose quintology Tõde ja õigus (Truth and Justice; 1926-1933) is considered one of the major works of Estonian literature and "The Estonian Novel". Tammsaare is depicted on the 25-Kroon banknote, one of Estonia's most ubiquitous (appr. US$ 2).

He was born in Järvamaa, in the municipality of Albu as the son of a farmer. Tammsaare came from poor background, but he managed to collect enough money for his education. He studied in Väike-Maarja and Tartu in Hugo Treffner's Gymnasium, and afterwards at the University of Tartu, where he studied law. Tammsaare's studies were interrupted by tuberculosis in 1911. He spent over a year in a sanatorium in the Caucasus - his only journey abroad - and the following six years in his brother's farm in Koitjärve, Estonia, reading works of Cervantes, Shakespeare and Homer.

In 1918, when Estonia become independent, Tammsaare had moved to Tallinn. It was here that Tammsaare wrote the works which have gained him a permanent place in Estonian literature. Although Tammsaare took his subjects from the history and life of the Estonian people, his novels have deep connections with the ideas of Bergson, Jung and Freud, and such writers as Knut Hamsun and André Gide.

Tammsaare's early works are characterized by rural "poetic" realism. Some of his stories also reflect the atmosphere of the revolutionary year of 1905. During what is sometimes classified as his second period, from 1908 to 1919, he wrote several short urban novels and collections of miniatures. In "Poiss ja liblik" (1915, The Boy and the Butterfly), Tammsaare shows the influence of Oscar Wilde. Internationally best known is his last novel, Devil with a False Passport.

Truth and Justice comprises five volumes:

  • 1: Wargamäe
  • 2: Indrek
  • 3: When the Storm is Silent
  • 4: Karin's Love
  • 5: Return to Wargamäe

Since vol. 3 contains a description about the Russian Revolution of 1905, which is not informed by ideology but by a Camusian attention to individual suffering, it was often combined with vol. 2 by Soviet censorship. (Even today, the third volume is sometimes called "artistically inferior", although the description of the revolution is on par with similar scenes in Pasternak's Dr. Zhivago. In Estonia, the second volume with its Tartu educational scenes is today probably the most enjoyed. International critics would probably opt for vol. 1 as the strongest overall; it is a classical peasant novel reminiscent of Hamsun which is also generally held to be the most telling one about "the Estonian character", embodied especially in two antagonistic farmer figures Andres and Pearu. Tammsaare himself said later that the different volumes deal with the relation of Man (i.e., the human person) to (1) the land, (2) God, (3) State and society, (4) him- or herself and (5) resignation. Truth and Justice has never been translated into English, but there are two complete translations into German, and vol. 1 has been translated into French.


Selected works

  • Kaks paari ja üksainus, 1902 - Two Pairs and The One
  • Vanad ja noored, 1903 - Olds and Youngs
  • Raha-auk, 1907 - The Money-Hole
  • Uurimisel, 1907 - Be In Prospect
  • Pikad sammud, 1908 - Long Steps
  • Üle piiri, 1910 - Over The Border
  • Noored hinged, 1909 - Young Spirits
  • Poiss ja liblik, 1915 - The Boy and The Butterfly
  • Keelest ja luulest, 1915 - About Language and Poetry
  • Kärbes, 1917 - The Fly
  • Varjundid, 1917 - The Shapes of The Shadows
  • Sõjamõtted, 1919 - Thoughts of War
  • Juudit, 1921 - Judith
  • Kõrboja peremees, 1922 - The Master of The Kõrboja
  • Pöialpoiss, 1923 - The Midget
  • Sic Transit, 1924
  • Tõde ja õigus I-V, 1926-33 - Truth and Justice, Vol.1-5
  • Meie rebane, 1932 - Our Fox
  • Elu ja armastus, 1934 - The Life and The Love
  • Ma armastasin sakslast, 1935 - I Loved a German
  • Kuningal on külm, 1936 - The King Has Cold
  • Hiina ja hiinlane, 1938 - China and a Chinese
  • Põrgupõhja Uus Vanapagan, 1939 - The Misadventures of The New Satan (or: Devil with a False Passport)
  • Miniatures, 1977
  • Kogutud teosed, 1977-1993 (18 vols.) - Collected Works

External link:

Estonian banknote showing Tammsaare and his farm (http://www.bankofestonia.info/pub/en/yldine/pangatahed/pangatahed/_25.html/)et:A. H. Tammsaare fi:Anton Hansen Tammsaare

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