Ado Grenzstein

Poems 

Non-fiction













Ado Grenzstein (pseudonym A. Piirikivi; 5. II /24. I 1849 – 20./7. IV 1916) was a journalist, man of letters and poet, one of the most significant and controversial public figures in Estonia at the end of the 19th century.

He was born at Kõksi farm in Tarvastu parish in Viljandimaa county, the son of a tenant farmer. From 1867 to 1869 he attended Tarvastu parish school and from 1871 to 1874 Jānis Cimze’s seminary for teachers and sacrists in Valga. Worked as a sacrist and parish school teacher, and as a teacher at the Tartu Teacher's Seminary. From 1878 to 1880 he completed his pedagogical studies in Vienna.

In 1881 he established the journal Olevik ('The Present'), which supported the national movement and which quickly became the most influential and significant newspaper in Estonia. Several writers, including Juhan Liiv, Karl Eduard Sööt, Andres Saal, and Georg Eduard Luiga, wrote for it. At the end of the eighties, under conditions of intensifying Russification, Grenzstein noted that Estonians should accept the new political situation, and he started to criticize the national efforts and enterprises. In those years, Grenzstein was not an Estonian nationalist but a cosmopolitan humanist. Thus Grenzstein came into conflict with the national political line led by Jaan Tõnisson and with the newspaper Postimees, which Tõnisson managed from 1896. Olevik lost its former influence and popularity; Grenzstein was in conflict on several fronts. In 1901 he gave up editing the newspaper and left Estonia – initially to Dresden, later permanently to Paris.

While living in France, Grenzstein changed his views – he became one of the first Estonian anti-Semites, and a fierce opponent of cosmopolitanism which came to be associated with the Jews. He expressed his views in numerous contributions to Estonian publications, mainly Olevik, which ceased publication in 1906, was recommenced in 1910 on Grenzstein’s initiative, and was finally closed in 1915. Grenzstein died on the French Riviera. After Estonia achieved independence, Grenzstein was publicly regarded chiefly as a defender of Russification, a saboteur of the national movement and an agitator for his own interests. Since the nineteen-eighties, however, he has not been regarded so uniformly negatively, and his very active work and voluminous literary legacy are viewed in a more nuanced way.

As a poet, Grenzstein published a collection under the pseudonym Ado Piirikivi, A. Piirikivi esimesed luuletused ('First Poems by A. Piirikivi', 1877), influence by folk poetry, and Laulud ja salmid ('Songs and Verses', 1888), which are flavoured with a Koidula-like patriotic pathos. Grenzstein’s clearly best-known poetic work is the children’s song Viisk, põis ja õlekõrs ('Bast, bladder and straw'), the words of which parody contemporary public figures. Grenzstein’s later poetry – such as the collection Mõttesalmid ('Verses of Ideas', 1899) – have the quality of versified aphorisms. He also later gave up using a pseudonym. The verse known even today, Vara üles, hilja voodi, / nõnda rikkus majja toodi ('Early to rise, late to bed, / That’s how wealth in the home was bred') is from Grenzstein’s pen. A large number of Grenzstein’s poems remain in manuscript – 50,000 lines of verse in Estonian, about as many in German. After living for a time in France, Grenzstein also wrote verse in French.
   
In his earlier period of activity Grenzstein placed great emphasis on popular education, publishing text materials, textbooks of Estonian, German and Russian, songbooks, and others, as well as the first Estonian 'Chess Guide' (1883). The Estonian chess terminology – words such as male (chess), lipp (queen), kuningas (king) – was invented by Grenzstein. He was very concerned with the question of beauty and purity in the Estonian language; he expressed his views on this in his brochure Kauni keele kaitsemiseks ('For the Protection of a Beautiful Language', 1899).

Alongside his articles in Olevik, Grenzstein published his commentaries in book form in Estonian, German and Russian. One of his most important works is in German, and sharply critical of the Baltic-German nobility: Herrenkirche oder Volkskirche? ('Church for the Gentry or the People?', 1899), which could not be published in Estonian owing to censorship.

Grenzstein’s later polemical writings, written in France and of anti-Semitic tendency, for example the books Pankrott tulemas ('Bankruptcy Coming', 1910) and Kodumaa korraldus ('Order in the Homeland', 1910) found no appreciation or attention in Estonia. In exile Grenzstein had more time to concentrate on philosophy. His last work was a systematic study in natural philosophy, Die Organsation der Natur. Naturphilosophische Betrachtungen mit neuen Ein- und Ausblicken ('The Organisation of Nature: Observations in Natural Philosophy with new Insights and Views', 1913). Its sequel, Gestalten des Geistes ('Forms of the Spirit', 1914), has remained in manuscript.

S. V. (Translated by C. M.)

 

Selected bibliography in Estonian and German:

Poems
A. Piirikivi Esimesed luuletused. Tartu: Schnakenburg, 1877, 42 lk. [Kättesaadav:
http://www.digar.ee/id/nlib-digar:36620.]
A. Piirikivi, Laulud ja salmid. Tartu: A. Grenzstein, 1888, 256 lk. [Kättesaadav:
http://www.digar.ee/id/nlib-digar:36808.]
Mõttesalmid. Jurjev: A. Grenzstein, 1899, 28 lk. [Kättesaadav:
http://krzwlive.kirmus.ee/et/lisamaterjalid/.]
Priidus. 1-3: Kuningate koosolek; Kihlused; Koit ja Ämarik. Tartu: A. Grenzstein, 1911, 110 lk. [Värssnäidendid. Kättesaadav:
http://www.digar.ee/id/nlib-digar:36463.]

Non-fiction
Looduse nõuud ja jõuud. 1. raamat. Kodule ja koolile [Aaron Bernsteini järgi] kirjutanud A. Grenzstein. Tartu: Schnakenburg, 1879-1880, 200 lk (1.-3. anne).
Male-õpetus. Tartu: A. Grenzstein, 1883, 40 lk. [Kättesaadav:
http://www.digar.ee/id/nlib-digar:100076. 2. trükk: 1904.]
Eesti Sõnaraamat: 1600 uut ja wõerast sõna. Korjanud ja (Saksa sõna lisandusega) Eesti keeles selgitanud A. Grenzstein. Tartu: A. Grenzstein, 1884, 180 veergu. [Kättesaadav:
http://www.digar.ee/id/nlib-digar:101413.]
Eesti Lugemise-raamat. 1. jagu. Tartu: A. Grenzstein, 1887, 84 lk. [Järgnevad trükid: 1888, 1890.]
Eesti Lugemise-raamat. 2. jagu. Tartu: A. Grenzstein, 1888, 94 lk. [2. trükk: 1890.]
Eesti küsimus: Sada juhtmõtet rahwuse ja politika elust. Ülesse seadinud ja arutamiseks awaldanud A. Grenzstein, Olewiku toimetaja. Jurjev: Olevik, 1894, 35 lk.
Elumaja ehe. Tartu: A. Grenzstein, 1891, 126 lk. [Kättesaadav:
http://www.digar.ee/id/nlib-digar:101414.]
Kirjatööde kogu. Walga: F. Karlsoni raamatukauplus, 1885-1901, 519 lk. [Sisu: 'Politika aabits', 'Möisnikkude mötted', 'Balti haridus', 'Kirjakogu', 'Lõpueksam nooreestlaste ja wanasakslaste keskes', 'Seltsi juhatus', 'Rahwa töö rakendus', 'Meie waimuwalla tegelased', 'Kauni keele kaitsemiseks', 'Mõttesalmid', 'Eesti küsimus', P. N. Bulatow, 'Kuda wõib ennast kolera eest hoida?' 'Seltsi äriraamatute sissesead', 'Maa tundmine', 'Talu wiljapuu aed', 'Linna puud ja puiestikud', 'Raadi waldkonna majanduse geografia', Wilhelm Busch, 'Naljapildid', 'Eesti sõnaraamat'.]
Elutarkus ja Ilmakunst. Jurjev: A. Grenzstein, 1896, 196 lk. [Kättesaadav:  
http://www.digar.ee/id/nlib-digar:101417.]
Laste lugemiseraamat. 1. jagu. Jurjev: A. Grenzstein, 1896, 80 lk.
Lõpueksam nooreestlaste ja wanasakslaste keskes. Jurjev: A. Grenzstein, 1898, 103 lk.
Herrenkirche oder Volkskirche? Eine estnische Stimme im baltischen Chor. Jurjew: A. Grenzstein, 1899, 150 lk. [Kättesaadav:
http://hdl.handle.net/10062/16951.]
Kauni keele kaitsemiseks. Jurjew: A. Grenzstein, 1899, 36 lk. [2. trükk: Tallinn: Eesti Keele Instituut, 1996, 55 lk. Kättesaadav:
http://www.digar.ee/id/nlib-digar:100501.]
Ajaloo album. Tartu: s.n., 1910, 377 lk. [Grenzsteini päevaraamat 1891—1900.]
Kodumaa Korraldus. Tartu: G. Zirk, 1910, 246 lk.
Pankrott tulemas. Tartu: A. K. Naariz, 1910, 94 lk.
Juudiküsimus. Tartu: [s. n.], 1912, 113 lk.
Die Organisation der Natur: Naturphilosophische Betrachtungen mit neuen Ein- und Ausblicken. Paris und Leipzig: Kommissionsverlag Buchhandlung H. Le Soudier, 1913, 137 lk.
Eesti haridus. Koostaja Simo Runnel. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2012, 543 lk. [Sari 'Eesti mõttelugu'.]
Tunne ja tarkus. Tõlkinud ja saatesõna: Simo Runnel. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2016, 360 lk. [Tõlgitud teostest 'Herrenkirche oder Volkskirche?' ja 'Die Organisation der Natur'. Sari 'Eesti mõttelugu'.]

About Ado Grenzstein
Aadu Grenzsteini võitlus Jaan Tõnissoniga. Korraldanud A. Kruusberg. Tartu: Odamees, 1921, 79 lk. [Sisu: Sisu: A. Kruusberg, 'A. Grenzsteini müüdavus', A. Grenzsteini kaebused J. Tõnissoni ja tsensori peale, katkeid Grenzsteini ärilise sisuga kirjadest, kirjutused Grenzsteini surma puhul, rahuleping. Kättesaadav:
http://www.digar.ee/id/nlib-digar:216481.]
Friedebert Tuglas, Ado Grenzsteini lahkumine. Päätükid meie ajakirjanduse ja tsensuuri ajaloost. Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1926, 229 lk. [2. trükk: 2018, 371 lk.]
Mart Laar, Tuglas, ajalugu ja "Ado Grenzsteini lahkumine". - Looming, nr 12, 1986, lk 1676-1683.
Jaan Undusk, Esimene eesti juudiõgija. Ado Grenzsteini endatapp antisemitismis. I–II. - Vikerkaar, nr 2–3, 1991, lk 66–74, 57–68.
Jaanus Arukaevu. Ado Grenzsteini tagasitulek. – Akadeemia nr 12, 1997, lk 2467–2514.