(Johannes Semper). Born Mar. 10 (22), 1892, in the rural district of Tuhalaane, in what is now Vil-jandi Raion; died Feb. 21, 1970, in Tallinn. Soviet Estonian writer. People’s Writer of the Estonian SSR (1964). Member of the CPSU from 1940.
In 1928, Semper graduated from the University of Tartu, where he subsequently taught from 1928 to 1940. From 1930 to 1940 he was editor of the journal Looming (Creativity). In 1940 he served as minister of education. Semper published his first work in 1910. He is the author of a number of poetry collections, including Pierrot (1917), The Five Senses (1926), The Wheel of Winds (1936), I Cannot Remain Silent (1943; Soviet Estonia Prize, 1947), How Would You Be Able to Live? (1958), and Pages, Like Leaves in the Wind (1972, posthumously). Over the years, Semper’s poetry came to explore civic and philosophical themes with increasing breadth and profundity. In the novels Jealousy (1934) and Stone Upon Stone (1939; Russian translation, 1966), Semper showed himself to be a master of psychological realism. The novel Red Carnations (1955; Russian translation, 1956) reflects the disagreements among intellectuals on the eve of the revolution of 1939–40. Semper also wrote plays (the collection Plays, 1961), a book of reminiscences entitled Journey Into the Past (1969), the state anthem of the Estonian SSR (Soviet Estonia Prize, 1947), and books of essays. He translated works by Dante, G. Boccaccio, E. Verhaeren, A. Blok, P. Neruda, and others.
Semper was chairman of the administrative board of the Writers’ Union of the Estonian SSR from 1946 to 1950. He was awarded the Order of Lenin, two other orders, and various medals.
WORKSTeosed, vols. 1–8. Tallinn, 1962–71.
In Russian translation:
Stikhotvoreniia. [Introductory article by R. Parve.] Moscow, 1962.
REFERENCESOcherk istorii estonskoi sovetskoi literatury. Moscow, 1971.
Siirak, E. Johannes Semper. Tallinn, 1969.