Jüri Talvet Juhan Liivi radadel / Jüri Talvet on the Trails of Juhan Liiv


  • Tanar Kirs University of Tartu Juhan Liiv Museum




Juhan Liiv, luule, publitseerimine, tekstoloogia, toimetamine, retseptsioon, poetry, publication, textology, editing, reception


Teesid: Käesolev uurimus põhineb Jüri Talveti juubeliüritusel peetud ettekandel ning keskendub professori Liivi-alase tegevuse käsitlemisele. Artiklis tutvustan Talveti Liivi-tõlgenduse uudseid ja vähemärgatud detaile, mis kajastuvad tema koostatud Liivi luule väljaannetes ja nendega ühenduses olevates kriitilistes käsitlustes. Siinjuures tahan näidata, et Talvet avaldab Liivi luulet teistsuguses võtmes ja teisendab oluliselt seda normi, mille vahendusel Liivi luulet tänapäeval tuntakse.


The article addresses Jüri Talvet’s interpretation of poetry by Juhan Liiv (1864–1913). Its focus lies on a collection of Liiv’s poetry Snow Drifts, I Sing: Selected Poems (Lumi tuiskab, mina laulan: Valik luulet, 2013) compiled by Talvet. I shall compare this book with the most extensive volume of Liiv’s poetry of the previous century With and Without You (Sinuga ja sinuta, 1989) edited by Aarne Vinkel, which has had a major role in the shaping of the norms that serve as a basis for understanding Liiv’s work in recent times. The article observes how these volumes mediate Liiv’s poetry and the way Talvet transposes its earlier publishing standards. More particularly, I will analyse the poetry collection edited by Talvet from five perspectives: I will map the new texts and text fragments included in the work, discuss Talvet’s corrections and highlight the omitted fragments and full texts. Such specific treatment can be narrowed down to three broader topics: what new additions Talvet makes to the known textual body of Liiv’s poems (new texts); what changes he makes to previously published poems (textual additions, corrections and omissions); what he has left out (omitted texts). Talvet adds a great number of texts to the known body of Liiv’s poems. The poetry book Snow Drifts, I Sing contains over 20 poems that are not included in With and Without You; furthermore, Talvet publishes a number of new pieces of poetry. These texts have been extracted from Estonian print media at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, early publications of Liiv’s poetry compiled by Friedebert Tuglas and Liiv’s written legacy. Of the more obscure or unpublished finds I will pay most attention to the poem I Found (Leidsin). The analysis of this poem shows that even though Talvet’s contributions to the body of Liiv’s published poetry may seem insignificant at first, the texts bear a certain aesthetic significance or value of thought that definitely sharpens and expands the view on Juhan Liiv’s poetry. Besides new texts, the volume compiled by Talvet also introduces a number of new versions of well-known poems. This includes text additions, corrections as well as omissions. Such changes have been applied to more than 20 poems. The most fascinating modifications occur in the poems “I Walked toward the Forest” (“Ma kõndisin metsa poole”), “Autumn” (“Sügise”) (i.e. the poem beginning with the verse “Drab sand and empty field” (“Igav liiv ja tühi väli”)) and “Infidelity” (“Truudusetus”). Compared to Vinkel, Talvet has managed to find better publication solutions for several of Liiv’s poems and his reasoning has dispelled a certain ambiguity that has long reigned over the publication of some of Liiv’s texts. And even though some of Talvet’s selective choices for Snow Drifts, I Sing have raised questions, the collection and his accompanying monograph allow readers to discover the reasoning behind his decisions and general problems concerning the publication of Juhan Liiv’s poetry. The poetry book Snow Drifts, I Sing excludes a great number of texts—more than 30—that were previously included in With and Without You. The omission of a rather well-known poem Future (Tulevik) raised the most questions and Talvet has not provided any reasons for that. Nevertheless, the general tightening of the circle of Liiv’s poetic works is understandable because most of the poems excluded from Snow Drifts, I Sing are generally lacking and fail to convey Liiv’s magnitude as a poet to the reader. The abundance of such texts may draw attention away from the intensity of Liiv’s poetry. Talvet’s selection has a clearer focus than Vinkel’s, emphasizing the unusual and unique quality of Liiv’s poetry. My research demonstrates that Talvet’s innovations have external scope and inherent gravitas—they concern a considerable number of Liiv’s poems and are expressed in substantial modifications. Despite the long and exhaustive publication practice of Liiv’s poems, Talvet has managed to present Liiv to the reader in a considerably different manner.


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Author Biography

Tanar Kirs, University of Tartu Juhan Liiv Museum

Tanar Kirs – magistrikraad kirjanduse ja teatriteaduse alal (2015) Tartu Ülikoolis. Ta töötab Tartu Ülikooli raamatukogus ja Juhan Liivi muuseumis Alatskivil ning uurib Liivi loomingut ja eesti luule alguse küsimust.


Tanar Kirs – Master’s degree in Literature and Theater Studies (2015) at the University of Tartu. He is working at the University of Tartu Library and at the Juhan Liiv Museum. He is researching the poetical work of Juhan Liiv and the beginning of Estonian poetry in general.