Väino Ilus (b. 8. XII 1929) has left his mark on Estonian literature as the author of novels about the problems of rural life in Soviet times.
He was born in Viljandi, the son of a labourer, and from 1937 to 1941 attended Viljandi primary schools numbers 1 and 2. During the Second World War he moved to the territory of the Soviet Union. From 1948 to 1949 he worked as a locksmith and from 1949 to 1953 as a journalist. In 1956 he completed Tallinn secondary school number 2 as an external student. Later he worked on cultural periodicals, from 1961 to 1981 in the editorial office of the journal Looming, from 1968 to 1974 as the deputy editor of Looming. From 1952 to 1991 he was a member of the Communist Party. Since 1958 he has been a member of the Writers’ Union.
Ilus’ most important works are the novels Tuulekülvid ('Sowings of the Wind', 1968) and Kinsli peremehed ('The Masters of Kinsli', 1978), in which he portrays farm-workers and the surroundings of Viljandi with a credible refreshing realism not seen before in an Estonian rural epic. The same subject matter is continued in the short story collections Muutlike ilmade ajal ('A Time of Changeable Weather', 1965), Öösiti on kahjulik mõtelda ('It’s Harmful to Think at Night', 1969), and Kohe pärast lapsepõlve ('Right After Childhood', 1976). In these the depiction of industrial workers’ living conditions is more prominent.
Väino Ilus is one of those prose-writers who take an extremely serious and responsible attitude to the methods of writing prose fiction, such as convincing plot development and vivid presentation of characters. At the same time, very characteristically for a mid-20th century author, though somehow anachronistically from a later standpoint, he has tried to maintain a sense of mission for himself and his colleagues in cultivating socially critical prose in continuation of the tradition of Balzac.
L. P. (Translated by C. M.)
Books in Estonian
Sinu enese elu. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1964, 244 lk.
Tuulekülvid. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1968, 352 lk.
Kaotusseis. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1973, 190 lk.
Kinsli peremehed. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1978, 287 lk.
Käekäik. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1986, 174 lk.
Kand maas. Jutustus. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1962, 196 lk.
Muutlike ilmade ajal. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1965, 180 lk.
Öösiti on kahjulik mõtelda. Üksteist juttu. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1969, 134 lk.
Kohe pärast lapsepõlve. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1976, 175 lk.
Endamisi ja unes. Jutustused. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1989, 261 lk.