Anton Tammsaare


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Tammsaare, Anton

 

(pen name of Anton Hansen). Born Jan. 18 (30), 1878, in the canton of Albu, in what is now Paide Raion, Estonian SSR; died Mar. 1, 1940, in Tallinn. Estonian writer; a representative of critical realism.

From 1907 to 1911, Tammsaare studied at the faculty of law at Tartu University. He was a democrat and humanist who understood the vices of bourgeois society. Tammsaare’s novels are epic in scope, contain abundant lyric and humorous episodes, and provide detailed psychological analyses of the heroes. As a writer he tended toward philosophical generalizations and incisive social satire.

Tammsaare began publishing in 1900. A basic theme in his work was the life of the Estonian peasantry, as seen in the novellas Two Couples and a Bachelor (1902) and Old and Young People (1903) and the novel The Landlord of Kôrboja (1922). The novella The Treasure (1907) decried the bloody suppression of the Revolution of 1905–07 in Russia.

Tammsaare’s best work was the five-volume epic Truth and Justice (1926–33), which depicted Estonian society beginning in the 1870’s. The work portrayed the life of an intellectual, a peasant by birth, who was a seeker of truth. In the author’s view, justice was unattainable in bourgeois society.

Tammsaare’s novel The New Demon From Hell (1939), unique among his works, at times becomes a grotesque philosophical satire of village life under capitalism. A biblical theme was the basis of Tammsaare’s antireligious psychological drama Judith (1921). The play The King Is Cold (1936) satirized fascist dictatorship in Western Europe.

Tammsaare’s works have been translated into many languages. His plays, as well as dramatizations of his novels, have remained in the repertoire of Estonian theaters.

WORKS

Teosed, vols. 1–13. Tallinn, 1952–68.
In Russian translation:
Sobr. soch., vols. 1–6. [Introductory article by H. Siimisker.] Moscow, 1966–68.

REFERENCES

Ocherk istorii estonskoi sovetskoi literatury: Moscow, 1971.
Tuglas, F. A. H. Tammsaare. Tartu, 1918.
Siimisker, H. A. H. Tammsaare. Tallinn, 1962.
Puhvel, H. A. H. Tammsaare elu ja loomingu varasem periood (1878–1922). Tallinn, 1966.

H. PUHVEL