Constructing a Text, Creating an Image: The Case of Johannes Barbarus


  • Anneli Kõvamees Tallinna Ülikool, Humanitaarteaduste instituut, Narva mnt 29, 10120 Tallinn, EESTI / ESTONIA



Johannes Vares-Barbarus, travelogues, Soviet Russia, editing


The Estonian poet, physician and politician Johannes Vares-Barbarus (1890–1946) is a contradictory figure in Estonian history and culture. He was a well-known and acknowledged doctor named Vares, but also a poet named Barbarus who was notable for his modernistic poems in the 1920s and 1930s. His actions in the 1940s as one of the leading figures in the Sovietization of Estonia have complicated the reception of his poetry. His opposition to the Republic of Estonia and his left-wing views are nearly always under observation when he or his poems are discussed. Predominantly his poetry has been discussed; his other works have received much less attention. This article analyses his travelogue Matkavisandeid & mõtisklusi (Travel Sketches and Contemplations) based on his trip to the Soviet Union. It was published in the literary magazine Looming in 1935 and reprinted in 1950 in his collected works. Travelogues have proven to be valuable materials when discussing the author and his mentality. The article analyses the image of the Soviet Union in his travelogue published in 1935 and discusses notable changes that were made in the reprint some of which have significantly altered the meaning, so that the text fits perfectly into the Soviet canon.


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