A Forgotten Beginning: Hella Wuolijoki’s Philosophic Play Dr. Lucius and the Poet


  • Jüri Talvet




Hella Wuolijoki, Juhan Liiv, Bertolt Brecht, Henrik Ibsen, expressionism, symbolism, realism


The article proposes to revise critically the work of the Estonian-Finnish writer Hella Wuolijoki created in her mother tongue, Estonian. The main Estonian researcher of Wuolijoki’s work, the late writer and critic Oskar Kruus did not attribute any importance to the play Dr. Lucius ja Luuletaja (Dr. Lucius and the Poet), which indeed was destined to remain in manuscript for about 80 years. As is claimed in the present article, the play, on the contrary, could be considered as a significant attempt to create a philosophic-symbolist drama in the Estonian language. From her early student years in Helsinki, Hella Wuolijoki became under a strong influence of socialist and feminist ideology. However, the main ideas of the play should not be identified as much with the offshoots of revolutionary ideologies of the start of the 20th century as with the spirit emerging from the work of some of the greatest poets-thinkers of Europe and the world, among whom was Juhan Liiv (1864–1913) – Luuletaja (the Poet) in Wuolijoki’s drama.


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