Karl August Hindrey

Short stories Karl August Hindrey

About Karl August Hindrey

Karl August Hindrey (15./3. VIII 1875 – 9. I 1947) was an Estonian writer, journalist and cartoonist, the most valuable part of whose production consists of psychological short stories and historical novels, but who in addition wrote children’s books, travel books and memoirs as well as criticism. He is also known as the founder of Estonian comics.

He was born the son of the brewer on the Abja estate in Viljandimaa county. He began his schooling with the baron’s home tutor, in 1882 entered the Viljandi Boys’ Elementary School, continued his studies at Viljandi county school, Knighthood’s Gymnasium (Landesgymnasium) in Viljandi, and then the Pärnu state gymnasium. From 1891 to 1894 he attended the Hugo Treffner gymnasium in Tartu, where he did not graduate. From 1894 to 1898 he studied drawing and painting at Baron Alexander von Stieglitz’s School of Technical Drawing in St. Petersburg, and later at private art schools in Munich and Paris. Having returned to Estonia in 1904, he worked for long periods in the editorial offices of the newspapers Postimees and Päevaleht, writing mainly travel articles and literary and theatrical criticism. Under the pseudonym Hoia Ronk he was known as a prolific columnist and a sharp-witted caricaturist. He established the satirical magazines Sädemed and Kratt, and was their editor (1905-1915 and 1924-1926 respectively). In 1917-1918 he took part in the formation of the Estonian national military units and took part in the War of Independence as a correspondent at the front. In the nineteen-twenties he travelled extensively in Europe and Africa, From 1928 he chose to be a freelance writer. During the German occupation he was active as a guerrilla (the ‘Forest Brother’) against the Soviet army and wrote anti-Soviet articles. After the end of the war he hid in the Iru old people’s home under an assumed name, and died there. The writer is buried in the Tallinn Metsakalmistu Cemetery. He received the Estonian Head of State Prize in 1934 and 1937, and the Estonian President’s Prize in 1939. His name and works were in disfavour for a long time in Soviet Estonia.

Hindrey began as a productive and successful children’s author, bringing to Estonian children’s literature the illustrated books of comic verses Pambu-Peedu (‘Peter Bundle’, 1906), Seene-Mikk (‘Michael Mushroom’, 1906), Piripilli-Liisu (‘Betty Crybaby’, 1906), Lõhkiläinud Kolumats (‘Burst Kolumats the Bogeyman’, 1918), Nina-Jass ja Näpp-Mall (‘Jack Nose and Mary Finger’, 1918), Loomade mäss (‘The Riot of Animals’, 1920), and others in which the characters are hyperactive children, disobedient imps. Grotesque comedies of situation and character blur the boundaries of reality and fantasy, offering humour and playful instruction instead of applying morality. A positive response came also for later children’s books and several retellings of folk- and fairy-tales. He also published stories for young people and popular scientific works of natural science and biography.

Hindrey is one of those more unusual authors in Estonian literature, one who began as a prose writer in his more mature years. Worthy of attention are his five-volume series of memoirs Minu elukroonika (‘The chronicle of my life’, 3 volumes, 1929), Murrang (‘Breakpoint’, 4th volume, 1930) and Tõnissoni juures (‘At Tõnisson’s’, 5th volume, 1931). The memoirs were started by his debut autobiographical tale Kunstikool (‘Art School’, 1929), which appeared in the journal Looming. A unique personal and cultural-historical document is Iru päevik. Sügis 1946 (‘Iru Diary, Autumn 1946’, 1996), written during his period in hiding. A personal travelogue, Rännud, rannad, Riviera, Sõsarsaared ja Savoy (‘Travels, Beaches, Riviera, the Sister Islands and Savoy’, 1937) is based on previously published travel tales full of erudition and fascinating accounts.

In the nineteen-thirties Hindrey concentrated mainly on writing short stories and novels, feeling a deep interest in human psychical and ethical nature, and also in social identity. Applying a more subjective style of narration and freer composition, among the main themes of Hindrey’s first story collections Välkvalgus (‘Lighning’, 1932) and Armastuskiri (‘Love Letter’, 1933) are the powerful position of a patriarchal man and male-female love relationships. In the psychological stories he opens up the complex internal world of his protagonists, chiefly their intellectual interests and delicate emotional life, in a nuanced way, showing the contrast between their high ideals and demanding morality, and their low surroundings. In his later collections Sigtuna häving (‘The Destruction of Sigtuna’, 1937) and Südamed (‘Hearts’, 1938), the experience-based subject matter and real-life analysis are revealed, the ordinary person’s awareness of life, depicted with sympathy, rises to centre stage. The historical stories, which deal in some cases with the motif of Sigtuna, heroicize the warrior-like valour of the ancient Estonians.

The fantastical adventure novels Ararauna (1930) and Rowne rändab (‘Rowne is Wandering’, 1933) describe the life of a tribe of the ancient Estonians who ended up in the mountainous forests of South America. The historical novel Urmas ja Merike (‘Urmas and Merike’, I-II, 1935-1936) offers a panoramic but heroicized glimpse into ancient Estonia, depicting the development of a noble caste among the Estonian tribes and confronting intergenerational attitudes against the background of a family saga. The two-volume dilogy Loojak (‘Sunset’) – consisting of volume 1: Nõid (‘Witch’, 1938) and volume 2: Lembitu (1939) – deals with the period in 1212-1227 when the Estonians’ ancient struggle for freedom started to fail. The dilogy depicts everyday life of the ancient communities, opposition to the Christianity and the violence of war. Subtle interplay of psychological nuances and exciting ethical dilemmas are presented in the novel Sündmusteta suvi (‘An Uneventful Summer’, 1937), in which, through the observations and meditations of the first-person narrator, the differing efforts at self-realization and quests for happiness of a group of friends gathered by Lake Pühajärv are depicted. Hindrey pursues the psychological line further in the novel Ja ilma ja inimesi ma tundsin viimati ka (‘I Also Used to Know the World and People’, 1939), which looks at the conflicting moralities of a group of characters from different backgrounds gathered at a seaside boarding-house. The developmental novel Taaniel Tümmi tähelend (‘The Hour of Taaniel Tümm’, 1942) describes the rise of a peasant, from a poor background but industrious and ambitious, into a prosperous businessman.

A. O. (Translated by C. M.)

Books in Estonian

Ararauna. Tartu: Postimees, 1930, 227 lk.
Rowne rändab. Tartu: Postimees, 1933, 261 lk.
Suremise eod. Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1935, 239 lk. [Teine trükk: Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 2010, 191 lk.]
Urmas ja Merike. I–II. Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1935, 337 lk; 1936, 330 lk. [Järgnevad trükid: Vadstena: Orto, 1948, 264 lk; Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1991, 383 lk.]
Sündmusteta suvi. Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1937, 217 lk. [Järgnevad trükid: Toronto: Orto, 1953, 264 lk; Tallinn: Virgela, 1996, 191 lk.]
Loojak I: Nõid. Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1938, 165 lk. [Järgnevad trükid: Stockholm: Vaba Eesti, 1948, 98 lk; Tallinn: Monokkel, 1992, 165 lk.]
Loojak II: Lembitu. Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1938, 196 lk. [Järgnevad trükid: Stockholm: Vaba Eesti, 1949, 116 lk; Tallinn: Monokkel, 1992, 196 lk.]
Ja ilma ja inimesi ma tundsin viimati ka.  Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1939, 291 lk. [Järgnev trükk: Tallinn: Virgela 1998, 231 lk.]
Taaniel Tümmi tähelend. Tartu: Tartu Eesti Kirjastus, 1942, 294 lk. [Järgnev trükk: Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 2006, 255 lk.]
Aovalged aknad. Tartu: Virgela, 1995, 254 lk. [Käsikiri: 1943.]

Short stories
Välkvalgus. Tartu: Eesti Kirjanikkude Liit, 1932, 157 lk. [2. trükk: ‘Välkvalgus. Armastuskiri’, Stockholm: Vaba Eesti, 1962, 296 lk.]
Armastuskiri. Tartu: Hea Novell, 1933, 234 lk. [2. trükk: Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1935, 240 lk; 3 trükk: ‘Välkvalgus. Armastuskiri’, Stockholm: Vaba Eesti, 1962, 296 lk.]
Sigtuna häving. Tartu: Eesti Kirjanikkude Liit, 1937, 427 lk.
Südamed. Tartu: Eesti Kirjanikkude Liit, 1938, 220 lk.
Hukatus Mälaril. Tartu: Noor-Eesti,1939, 206 lk.
Ja oli kunagi keegi…. Tallinn: Eesti Kirjastus, 1942, 178 lk.
Ja oli kunagi keegi…. Valimik novelle. Eessõna: Ülo Tedre. Tallinn: Perioodika (Loomingu Raamatukogu), 1968, 295 lk.
Kaugekõne. Koostanud ja järelsõna: Ülo Tedre. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1986, 411 lk. [Sari ‘Eesti novellivara’.]

Books for children and adolescents
Pambu-Peedu. Tartu: 1906, 8 lk. [2. trükk: Tartu: O. Luik, 1929, 8 lk.]
Pambu-Peedu, Seene-Mikk, Piripilli-Liisu. Tartu: Postimees, 1907, 34 lk.
Seene-Mikk. Tartu: 1906, 8 lk. [Järgnevad trükid: Tartu: O. Luik, 1929, 8 lk; Tallinn: Tea Kirjastus, 2012, 29 lk.]
Piripilli-Liisu. Tartu: 1906, 16 lk. [Järgnevad trükid: Tartu: O. Luik, 1929, 8 lk; Tallinn: Tea Kirjastus, 2009, 36 lk.]
Nina-Jass ja Näpp-Mall. Tartu: Odamees, 1918, 11 lk. [Järgnevad trükid: Tartu: O.Luik, 1929, 8 lk; Tallinn: Tea Kirjastus, 2012, 29 lk.]
Lõhkiläinud Kolumats. Tartu: Odamees, 1918, 20 lk. [Järgnev trükk: Tartu: O. Luik, 1929, 8 lk.]
Loomade mäss.  Tartu: Odamees, 1920, 23 lk. [Järgnevad trükid: Tallinn: Ilo, 1996, 23 lk; Tallinn: Eesti NSV Raamatuühing, 1989, 23 lk; Tallinn: Ilo, 2000, 24 lk.]
Jaunart Jauram. Tallinn: Tallinna Eesti Kirjastus-Ühisus 1921, 32 lk. [2. trükk: Stockholm: Vaba Eesti, 1956, 32 lk.]
Jaunart Jaurami Jõngermannid. Tallinn: Tallinna Eesti Kirjastus-Ühisus 1921, 24 lk. [Järgnev trükk: Stockholm: Vaba Eesti, 1957, 24 lk.]
Summi-Sulpsu sekeldused. Tallinn: Tallinna Eesti Kirjastus-Ühisus, 1922, 24 lk.
Pambu-Peedu ja teised. Tartu: O. Luik, 1929, 44 lk.
Trebongi surm. Jutu-Paun nr 20. Tartu: O. Luik, 1930.
Raks Reem teotseb. Jutu-Paun nr 40/41. Tartu: O. Luik, 1932.
Kill Martuse lihavõtted. Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1933, 159 lk.
Kill Martus koolis. Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1935, 161 lk. [2. trükk: Tallinn: Kupar, 1993, 124 lk.]
Ants oli väike saunamees. Tallinn: Eesti Kirjastus, 1942, 24 lk. [2. trükk: Elva: Lambri Raamat, 2008, 24 lk.]
Lõhkiläinud Kolumats ja teised piltlood. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1979, 110 lk.
Poisid, koerad ja teised toredad. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 1995, 93 lk.
Õpetlikud lood. Tallinn: Tea Kirjastus, 2012, 29 lk.

Kooparüütel. Lavastatud 1916 Vanemuises. [Opereti libreto.]
Raidaru kirikumõis. Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1935, 82 lk.

Minu elukroonika I–III. Tartu: Loodus, 1929, 264+191+256 lk. [2. trükk: Tallinn: Eesti Päevaleht, 2010, 783 lk.]
Murrang. Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1930, 201 lk. [2. trükk: Tallinn: Eesti Päevaleht, 2010, 783 lk.]
Tõnissoni juures. Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1931, 248 lk. [2. trükk: Tallinn: Eesti Päevaleht 2010, 783 lk.]
Iru päevik. Sügis 1946. Tartu: Virgela, 1996, 79 lk.

Hoia Ronk, 1914. Reisipildid. Tallinn: Eesti Kirjastus-Ühisus, 1924, 197 lk.
Kongosõit. Tartu: Loodus, 1929, 144 lk.
Hoia Ronk, Rännud, rannad, Riviera, Sõsarsaared ja Savoy. Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1937, 261 lk.

Articles and essays
Hoia Ronk, Kaasaegsed. Tartu: Loodus, 1926, 147 lk. [Följetonid.]
Kirjad noortele. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2016, 536 lk. [Sari ‘Eesti mõttelugu’, 130.]

Popular scientific works
Meie metsloomad. Tartu: Eesti Kirjanduse Selts, 103 lk. [2. trükk: Tartu: Eesti Kirjanduse Selts, 1940, 104 lk.]
Meie koduloomad ja nende põlvnemine. Tartu: Eesti Kirjanduse Selts, 1935, 100 lk.
Kindral Ernst Põdder. Landesvääri võitja. Tallinn: Kooperatiiv, 1935, 47 lk. [Järgnev trükk: Tallinn: Eesti Raamatuühing, 1990, 47 lk.]
Admiral Johan Pitka. Eesti Vabadussõja hing. Tallinn: Kooli-Kooperatiiv, 1938, 278 lk.