Where Do Dead Books Go? The Problem of the Soviet Canon Today, on the Example of Johannes Becher's Work in Estonian

Katre Talviste
2013 Interlitteraria  
The article describes the conception and editing process of an anthology of Johannes Becher's poems (Unistades täiusest, 1962) in Estonian, and discusses its status in the Soviet and contemporary literary canon. The work on the Becher anthology was led by an already outstanding literary scholar Nigol Andresen and a young poet and translator Ain Kaalep, who later became one of the most prolific and wellknown poetry translators in Estonia. An important part was also played by another
more » ... nother poet-translator, August Sang, who already had achieved such a standing in the Estonian literary field. Several other translators contributed to the anthology, making it a common project for intellectuals otherwise very differently positioned vis-à-vis the Soviet political authorities and cultural agendas. Becher's work was strongly promoted by these instances, but his poetry was also read with genuine enthusiasm by the main contributors to the anthology (whose own poetry has certain parallels to some aspects of Becher's), as well as the general public, at that time. After the fall of the Soviet regime it has been forgotten, mostly for the same contextual reasons that once granted its success. The case of his poetry in Estonian explores the question of this new invisibility of now politically irrelevant, but still voluminous and aesthetically intriguing literary works in the post-Soviet canon.
doi:10.12697/il.2013.18.1.13 fatcat:uwl3jy7f7reavkjqjpegz3grza