Eduard Vilde

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Vilde, Eduard


Born Mar. 4, 1865, in Simuna, now in Rakvere Raion, Estonian SSR; died Dec. 26, 1933, in Tallinn. Estonian writer. His father worked in a landowner’s country house.

Vilde graduated from the city high school in 1882 and began working as a journalist in 1883. His early works were primarily humorous short stories and sketches of everyday life. His novel In a Harsh Land (1896) tells of the tragic fate of a poor peasant, and the suffering of the factory proletariat is shown in the novel Iron Hands. In his historical trilogy—The War at Mahtra (1902), When the Peasants of Anija Came to Tallinn (1903, in Russian translation, The Envoys From Anija}, and The Prophet Maltsvet (1905-08)— Vilde depicted the peasant movement of the late 1850’s against feudal oppression and exploitation. He showed the suffering of the peasantry and its struggle—both clandestine and open—against the land-owning barons; and he created vivid characters from the people.

During the Revolution of 1905-07, Vilde was close to the Social Democrats. In his article “The Bourgeoisie, the Proletariat, and the Revolution” (1905), he called upon the workers to rally under the socialist banner for the struggle against capitalism. Although he was forced to emigrate, Vilde continued the struggle in the satirical journal Kaak (The Pillory: Finland, 1906). While lashing out at the autocracy and the landowners, he also exposed the reactionary and profit-seeking Estonian bourgeoisie. From 1906 through 1917, Vilde wandered about in emigration (Germany, Den-mark, and America). His collection of short stories and sketches Ironical Smiles and his play The House Spirit, which describes the predatory morals of the bourgeoisie, were published in Estonia in 1913. The novel The Dairyman from Mäeküla, published in 1916, is marked by refined psychologism.

Vilde returned to his native land after the February Revolution of 1917, but he failed to understand the significance of the October Revolution. After the Nazis came to power in Germany (1933) and Estonian fascists became active, Vilde called for resistance to fascism. Vilde’s best books are distinguished by their dramatic conflicts, taut action, and emotional, vital language.


Vilde, Kogutud teosed, vols. 1-33. Tartu, 1923-35.
Teosed [vols. 1-13]. Tallinn, 1951-57.
In Russian translation:
Sobr. soch, vols. 1-5. [Foreword and afterword by J. Käosaar.] Moscow, 1958.


Alttoa, V. Eduard Vilde. Tallinn, 1965.
Eduard Vilde kaagsaegsete mdlestustes. Tallinn, 1960.
Vaateid Vilde elusse. Tallinn, 1965. 5-173-4]
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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