Mäletamine ja nostalgia Karl Ristikivi romaanis „Kõik, mis kunagi oli” ning Bernard Kangro Joonatani -romaanides. Remembering and Nostalgia in Karl Ristikivi`s novel „All that Once Was” and Bernard Kangro’s Joonatan-novels

Maarja Hollo

Abstract


Research on the phenomenon of nostalgia has been notably shaped by the interest taken by sociologists, historians, and ethnologists in the ways of remembering past events and the impact of these ways of reminiscence on different communities of memory. This article considers remembering in a narrower sense, focusing on the modes of expression of individual memory, that is, on nostalgia. More specifically, nostalgia is defined as a conglomeration of feelings, images and interpretations that accompany individual remembering; the contradictions between these elements reflect the tensions inherent in remembering. The purpose of the article is first to emphasize ways in which remembering is represented in the works of two Estonian writers who went into exile during World War II; second, differences among their novels which thematize remembering, and third, how these works communicate today, in the context of recent polemics around memory. Karl Ristikivi’s novel „All that Once Was” (Kõik, mis kunagi oli”, 1946), was his first work to be published in exile, and the first volume of a dilogy set in Estonia, which the writer had already planned before fleeing Estonia. The first volume of Bernard Kangro’s Joonatan trilogy was published in 1971, and the last in 1973 – a period of creative crisis for Kangro, in which his prose writing undergoes significant change. In the works of both Ristkivi and Kangro, remembering and nostalgia are inextricably bound together. In Ristikivi’s novel, the connections emerge through the parallel representation of remembering, events in historical time, and the writing of history; in Kangro’s novels, in the force field of remembering and events in historical time. Ristikivi’s novel is set a few months before the conclusion of the Molotov- Ribbentrop pact in August, 1939. The novel’s focus, however, is not on the historical events themselves, but rather on how characters experience and interpret their own personal past and present. The novel shows how personal remembering differs from the logic of cultural memory, and seems to confirm that remembering maintains a certain autonomy from historical time. Such an understanding of memory can be taken as an effort to critique attempts to politicize memory. Ristikivi stresses qualities of individual remembering such as self-enclosure and refusal to submit to efforts at collectivization and assimilation. This kind of memory is only for the characters themselves to know; never once do they express their memories in language. As concerns nostalgia, Ristikivi’s novel emphasizes its connection with forgetting: in their retrospection and recollection, characters remember only extraordinary events in their lives, but not the texture of their everyday lives. Like Ristikivi, Kangro also speaks of the connections between nostalgia and remembering. In his Joonatan-novels, however, nostalgia has a more ambivalent meaning. The protagonist of the Joonatan novels, who has just returned to the homeland from exile, feels the tension between his wish to reconcile himself with the past and the nostalgic memories that flood him in the homeland. On the one hand, indulging in nostalgia tears him away from the wish to remember painful past events, and with this from present reality; on the other hand, his nostalgia helps him overcome a traumatic past. In both Ristikivi’s and Kangro’s novels nostalgic memories are connected with personally meaningful places, to which they return again and again.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7592/methis.v3i4.507

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