The Ages of Dickens in Estonian Literature. Some Comparative Perspectives with a Marxist Exposure

Arne Merilai


This paper offers some Dickensian comparative reflections as they appear in the mirror of Estonian culture. First, it opens up a line of inquiry aimed at the reception of Dickens’ works in Estonian translation. Secondly, this contribution elucidates salient developments of a peripheral modern culture in the Victorian era, namely the formation of a newly formed literature, exemplified by its most prominent authors and epic Kalevipoeg, and the emergence of a suppressed nation from the shadows of Baltic-German rule in the Russian Empire. Thirdly, this paper sheds light on the first Estonian novelist, socialist Eduard Vilde. It offers an intriguing way of thinking, about his humorous writing, post-romantic sentiment and its transformation into critical realism during and after the fin de siècle. As an added and in broad terms related point of interest, the paper concludes with an original illuminative chart. It encompasses the formal core of Marxist thought which still informs some contemporary approaches such as feminism or postcolonialism.


Charles Dickens; dickensianism; literary reception; Estonian literature; comparativism; criticism of Marxism

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ISSN 1406-0701 (print)
ISSN 2228-4729 (online)