Die Finsternis der Vergangenheit in Ene Mihkelsons Roman Katkuhaud (Pestgrab, 2007)

  • Aija Sakova-Merivee
Keywords: remembering, excavating the past, Post-Soviet literature, contemporary literature, Bronze Soldier, Ene Mihkelson, Estonian literature, partisan movement, metaphors of remembrance

Abstract

The Eclipse of the Past in Ene Mihkelson’s novel Katkuhaud (The Plague Grave, 2007). The latest novel Katkuhaud of Ene Mihkelson picks up the image of the Bronze Soldier to illustrate the complex problem of remembering the (Soviet) past in Estonia. Katkuhaud was published at the beginning of May 2007, only a few weeks after the removal of a Soviet monument, the so-called Bronze Soldier, and the street riots accompanying this. The novel begins with the description of this monument in the Tallinn city centre being surrounded with the police barrier tape. The Bronze Soldier was erected in September 1947 as a monument to the fallen Soviet soldiers who “liberated” Tallinn in 1945 from the German occupation. In the Estonian version of events this was not liberation but re-occupation. Mihkelson’s novel deals with remembering and coming to terms with the past on a personal, national and international level. In Estonia and in some other Eastern European countries the end of the Second World War and the defeat of the Nazi Germany did not mean a new beginning but more Stalinist repressions. In their case the Aufarbeitung, dealing with and making sense of the past, is rather belated. The novel is especially concerned with the problem of remembering and the different personal narratives this involves. The symbolism of the police tape at the beginning of the book develops into a metaphor for internal and external darkness, the incurable national dysfunction, the legacy of the Soviet past.

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Published
2013-12-20