Carl Robert Jakobson (pseudonym C. R. Linnutaja; 26./14. VII 1841 – 19./7. VII 1882) was an Estonian social activist, publicist, writer and pedagogue. He became an influential leader of the radical wing of the national movement, was an outstanding orator, and a reformer of the national school curriculum.
Jakobson was born in Tartu, and grew up at Torma in Jõgevamaa county, where his father was a sacrist and parish schoolmaster. He attended the school and studied under tutors, continuing his schooling from 1856 to 1859 at Jānis Cimze’s seminary for teachers and sacrists in Valga. From 1859 to 1862 Jakobson succeeded his father as a sacrist and teacher at Torma school, but he left there because of disagreements with the local landowner and pastor. He worked as a schoolteacher at Yamburg and St. Petersburg, and in 1864 he passed the examination for gymnasium teachers in German and literature at the University of St. Petersburg. Jakobson’s views were strongly shaped by the group of Estonian intellectuals called 'the patriots of St. Petersburg', whom he joined and under whose influence he began his activity as a publicist and educational writer. In 1871-1872 he lived in Tallinn; from 1872 to 1874 he was a parish clerk in Vana- and Uus-Vändra. In 1874 Jakobson bought Kurgja farm at Uus-Vändra, which he intended to turn into a model farm. From 1878 Jakobson edited the newspaper Sakala in Viljandi. He was a founder member of the Society of Estonian Men of Letters, and its president from 1881, a leading figure in several societies, and a patron of the founding of the Estonian Alexander School; from 1870 a member of its head committee. Jakobson died of pneumonia and was buried at Kurgja. Jakobson’s memorial statues are found at Kurgja, Torma and Viljandi; there are plaques in his memory in Viljandi and Tallinn. In 1950 the C.R. Jakobson Farm Museum was set up at Kurgja; there are streets named after him in several Estonian towns. Jakobson’s image was on the five-hundred kroon banknote of the Republic of Estonia from 1992-2010.
From 1865 Jakobson developed into a major public figure – he contributed to the newspaper Eesti Postimees, and later to the liberal Russian- and German-language papers. In 1868 Jakobson’s application to establish an Estonian-language newspaper in St. Petersburg was turned down. In the columns he sent to Eesti Postimees he spoke of the need to improve conditions in schools, reduce the amount of religious instruction and pay more attention in schools to civic development. Jakobson helped to develop the public schools with his readers in a new orthography Uus Aabistaraamat ('New ABC book', 1867) and the three-part Kooli Lugemise raamat ('School Reading Book', 1867-1876), which was widely distributed among the people at the time and was still in use in schools in the first decade of the twentieth century. In addition he was also the originator of pedagogically sound textbooks in German, geography and choir singing, and a reader for girls, Helmed ('Pearls', 1880). Jakobson regarded as important a secular education based on the natural sciences, and his schoolbooks paid attention to information about the Estonians’ land, history, living conditions and culture. Jakobson’s readers were the first anthologies of Estonian literature (primarily lyric verse). Jakobson was also the first to familiarise schoolchildren with the epic Kalevipoeg, and with judicious excerpting, made the core of the epic’s ideas familiar and comprehensive to broader circles of people. He also published choral songbooks, which helped the development of Estonian choir singing. Jakobson paid great attention to economic problems, and was the first to provide Estonian peasant farmers with basic information about husbandry. Jakobson was elected president of both the Pärnu and Viljandi farmers’ associations (1873 and 1875 respectively) and he established Estonian-language agricultural literature.
In the eighteen-seventies Jakobson devoted himself more and more to politics. In 1868 and 1870 he addressed the Vanemuine Society with "Three speeches about the Fatherland" (as a book in 1870), the aim of which was to awaken a national sense in the Estonians. In the first speech, 'The Estonian Nation’s Times of Light, Darkness and Dawn', Jakobson idealized, in contrast to the view of the Baltic Germans, the ancient liberty of the Estonians as a time of light, and the invasion by the crusading knights as the beginning of darkness. As the dawn Jakobson viewed the ascension of Tsar Alexander II to the throne and the ensuing reforms. In the second speech, 'The Battlefield of the Estonian Mind', he dealt with the beginnings of Estonian cultural history and predicted the imminent ascent of Estonian culture. In the third speech, 'Belief in Witchcraft and Witch-trials', he concentrated on the problems of heresy and witch-trials in the context of European history, and warned Estonians against superstition.
The summit of Jakobson’s political activity was the newspaper Sakala, which started appearing in 1878. This high-quality paper, popular with the public, criticised the current agrarian system, the power of the nobility and social stratification, demanded the creation of a single Estonian governorate and a reform of the courts. The paper supported and gave vent to populist and national initiatives. Jakobson regarded farm purchase in perpetuity as very important, as well as the establishment of Estonian-language schools and their liberation from the primacy of the church, and strove for girls to get as high an education as possible. However, this brought conflicts with the Estonian clergy and ended up alienating the moderate activists in the national movement from Sakala. Sakala and its supplement were crucial to the development of Estonian literature and literary criticism, publishing the work of well-known Estonian authors and criticism of the latest books, and developing social satire.
Jakobson’s poetical work is modest; he wrote a bit of doggerel, he made some attempts on the model of folk poetry, and translated the poetry of Goethe, Schiller, Heine and others. His only verse collection, Lauliku C. R. Linnutaja laulud ('Songs of the Bard C. R. Linnutaja'), contains mostly patriotic poems, nature and love lyrics, and children’s songs. A more significant literary work is the play Artur ja Anna, which tells the story of the marriage of an unprejudiced landowner with an Estonian farm girl. The text is a confrontation with social inequalities and the heritage of the feudal system. It was first performed in 1873 at the Vanemuine theatre.
Whereas the old orthography based on High German spelling was mostly used in Estonian language before the eighteen-seventies, all of Jakobson’s works were published in a new orthography based on Finnish, thus aiding the spread of the orthography and its rapid victory by the end of the decade.
A. N. (Translated by C. M.)
Weikene Geograafia ehk Maade teaduse käsiraamat. Kolmes raamatus. Alamate koolide kohta kirja pannud C. R. Jakobson. Tartu: H. Laakmann, 1868, 180 lk.
Kooli Lugemise raamat. 1. jagu. 80 pildiga. Kirja pannud C. R. Jakobson, gümnaasi koolmeister. Tartu: H. Laakmann, 1867, 244 lk. [15. trükk: 1906.]
Kooli Lugemise raamat. 2 jagu. 46 pildiga. Kirja pannud C. R. Jakobson. Tartus: H. Laakmann, 1875, 216 lk. [4. trükk: 1907.]
Kooli Lugemise raamat. 3. jagu. 40 pildiga. Kirja pannud C. R. Jakobson gümnaasi kooliõpetaja. Tartu: H. Laakmann, 1876, 216 lk.
Saksakeele õppimise raamat koolidele = Deutches Sprachbuch für den Schulgebrauch. Esimene jagu. Kirja pannud C. R. Jakobson. Tartu: C. Mattiesen, 1878, 114 lk.
Helmed. Kooli lugemise raamat tütarlastele 24 pildiga. 1. jagu. Kirja pannud C. R. Jakobson. Tartu: K. Mattiesen, 1880, 187 lk.
Uus Aabitsaraamat, kust wiiekümne pääwaga lugema ja kirjutama wõib õppida. Kirja pannud C. R. Jakobson. Peterburi: 1867, 40 lk.
Kolm isamaa kõnet. Tartus „Wanemuise“ seltsis pidanud C. R. Jakobson. Peterburi: 1870, 78 lk.
Teadus ja seadus põllul. 1. jagu. Neile põllumeestele, kes oma asju mõistuse najal tahawad toimetada, kirja pannud C. R. Jakobson. Peterburi: 1869, 172 lk.
Artur ja Anna ehk Wana ja uue aea inimesed. Üks rõõmulik näitemäng kolmes järgus. Luuletanud C. R. Linnutaja. Tartu: 1872, 69 lk.
Valitud teosed. 1. köide. Koostanud Rudolf Põldmäe. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1959, 503 lk.
Valitud teosed. 2. köide. Artiklid. Följetonid. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1959, 487 lk.
Kolm isamaa kõnet. Faksiimileväljaanne käsikirjast. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1991, 126 lk.
Kolm isamaa kõnet. Kriitiline väljaanne käsikirjast kommentaaride ja järelsõnaga. Teksti ette valmistanud ja järelsõna: Rudolf Põldmäe. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1991, 110 lk.
About C. R. Jakobson
Jakob Johanson-Pärna, Kuulus Eesti rahwa hariduse töötaja Carl Robert Jakobson. Tallinn: 1891, 64 lk.
Anton Jürgenstein, Carl Robert Jakobsoni elu ja töö. Tartus: Eesti Kirjanduse Selts, 1925, 115 lk.
Hans Kruus, Carl Robert Jakobson võitlejana. Äärejooni. Tartu: 1932, 16 lk.
Abel Käbin, C. R. Jakobson kui eesti põllumeeste juht. Tallinn: Põllutöökoda, 1933, 109 lk.
Rudolf Kenkmaa, Carl Robert Jakobson Tallinnas: 1871/72. Tallinn, 1939, 89 lk.
Jaan Roos, Carl Robert Jakobson: võitleva rahvusluse pioneer. Tallinn: Kooli Kooperatiiv, 1940, 39 lk. [Sari 'Eesti rahvuslikud suurmehed: elulooline kirjastik noorsoole'.]
Otto Štein, C. R. Jakobsoni (1841-1882) ühiskondlik-poliitilised vaated. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1957, 38 lk.
C. R. Jakobson Kurgjal: kaasaegsete mälestusi. Koostanud ja järelsõna: August Mikk. Vändra: Eesti NSV Kultuuriministeerium, 1965, 140 lk.
Ea Jansen, C. R. Jakobsoni "Sakala". Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1971, 352 lk.
C. R. Jakobsoni "Sakala" ja Eesti ajakirjanduse teed. Artiklite kogumik. Koostanud Ea Jansen ja Juhan Peegel. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1979, 147 lk.
Ea Jansen, Carl Robert Jakobson muutuvas ajas: märkmeid, piirjooni, mõtteid. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1987, 188 lk.
Carl Robert Jakobson ja Kurgja-Linnutaja. Koos. M. Karelson. Tallinn: Valgus, 1981, 77 lk.
Carl Robert Jakobsonist ja tema algatuste edasiarendamisest. Koostanud. M. Karelson. Tallinn: Valgus, 1985, 82 lk.
Carl Robert Jakobsonist – tema sõnast tänapäevani. Koostanud M. Karelson. Tallinn: Valgus, 1988, 95 lk.
Jüri Kuum, Carl Robert Jakobson – talurahva õpetaja ja põllumees. Saku: M. Tamberg, 2002, 206 lk.
Vello Paatsi, Tundmatu Carl Robert Jakobson. Tartu: Eesti Kirjandusmuuseum, 2006, 189 lk.
Carl Robert Jakobson. Koostaja Lauri Vahtre. Tallinn: Meie Elu Kirjastus, 2014, 99 lk.
Tiina Toomet, C. R. Jakobson ja Kurgja-Linnutaja talu aed. Kurgja: C. R. Jakobsoni Talumuuseum, 2016, 30 lk.
Fiction about C. R. Jakobson
Mait Metsanurk, C. R. Jakobson. Dramaatiline kroonika 5 vaatuses epiloogiga. Tartu: Eesti Kirjastuse Kooperatiiv, 1935, 170 lk.
Oskar Kruus, Aeg atra seada. Kultuurilooline romaan. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1986, 460 lk.