Ain Kalmus (given name Evald Mänd, 8. VI / 26. V 1906 - 15. XI 2001), Estonian writer and theologian. His religious and literary vocations were realised in several novels whose main theme is man’s relationship to God.
He was born in Emmaste parish on the island of Hiiumaa into a numerous and religious family of coastal farmers. He began his schooling in 1916 at the Kuriste Orthodox church school and at the local primary schools, gaining his secondary education from 1925 to 1929 at the Baptist Evangelical Seminary at Keila, and his tertiary education in America, at Andover Newton Theological School, where he defended his master’s thesis on the theme of religious disillusionment. After returning from the USA, he worked as a Baptist minister in Tartu and south Estonia, and as a pastor in Tallinn. At the same time he taught in religious schools and edited the theological journals Elukevade and Teekäija. In 1944 he fled with his family to Sweden, and in 1946 moved to the USA, where he was soon selected as a pastor to the congregation of Rockport. In the nineteen-fifties he worked as a cleric in Amherst and as a lecturer at Andover Newton Theological School, where in 1974 he defended his doctoral dissertation on ‘The Influences of the Bible on Fiction’.
In Estonia Kalmus published three collections of religious stories, one collection of poetry and several sermons. His first book, containing two short stories, Valgus ja varjud ('Light and Shadows', 1926), appeared under the name Evald Mänd. His first novel, Soolased tuuled ('Salty Winds', published in the newspaper Eesti Sõna 1942, as a book 1944) depicted with ethnographic exactness the life of coastal island dwellers in the final decades of the 19th century, with descriptions of fishing and seal-hunting, shipbuilding and smuggling.
In exile Kalmus turned into an original and productive prose writer, who published twelve novels and two collections of short stories. The novel Öö tuli liiga vara ('Night Came Too Early', 1945) is the chronicle of one family’s fate starting from the outbreak of the Second World War until its escape from Estonia to Sweden. The resistance struggle of the guerrillas (known as "Forest Brothers") in Estonia in the interregnum of 1941 is depicted in Kaarnakünka (1946), the first novel about the Forest Brothers in Estonian. The novel Kodusadama tuled ('Lights of the Home Port', 1947), based on the experiences of seamen, tells of the career of a boy from a poor coastal village who becomes a captain and a boat-owner. The life of Estonians who emigrated to America before the Second World War, in the years 1900 to 1940, is described in the novel Hingemaa ('Land of Spirits', 1948). Kalmus wrote in English about the problems of those without a homeland in The World is my Home (1952) and the short-story collection Men of Tomorrow (1958), based on Biblical motifs.
The summit of his achievement is the novels Prohvet ('The Unfaithful', 1950), Tulised vankrid ('Chariots of Fire' I-II, 1953) and Juudas ('Judas', 1969), which show him to be the most consistent seeker of God in Estonian literature. The Prophet follows the life of the Old Testament prophet Hosea, in the 8th century BC. Chariots of Fire, in two volumes, examines the early Christian period in the Near East and on Crete through the story of the martyr-bishop Polycarp (Polykarpos).
The series of novels Jumalad lahkuvad Maalt ('The Gods Leave the Earth'), 1956), Toone tuled üle Maa ('Fires of the Land of the Dead Shining Over the Earth', 1958), Koju enne õhtut ('Home Before Evening', 1964) depicts the beginning of the Christianisation of Estonia and the Estonians’ submission in the years 1170-1230. The central theme of the Tabelinius trilogy is the collision of Christianity and paganism, the internal conflict arising from the Estonians’ sense of faith and of tribal identity after accepting the foreign faith, but also the ancient tribes’ struggle for freedom and their resistance to the German and Danish invasions, resulting in tragic defeat. One of Kalmus’ major works, Juudas (1969), interprets the New Testament story of Judas Iscariot, who embodies the hunger for truth and love, and seeks an earthly ideal of freedom.
Kalmus’ four-volume series of memoirs, Kadunud saar ('The Lost Island', 1972), Ajastute vahetusel ('Between Eras', 1977), Päästa meid ära kurjast ('Deliver Us from Evil', 1979), Meil pole jäädavat linna ('We Have No Permanent Town', 1981) is an autobiographical retrospection, in which he recalls his childhood on Hiiumaa, his life as a sailor and his theological studies at Keila, his studies in the USA, his pastoral and priestly work in Estonia and his life in exile in the USA. Kalmus’ books of memoires, with their searching self-examination and their confessional nature, can be classified as autobiographical novels. In exile Kalmus continued to write stories, marginalia, essays and reviews in the American press.
A. O. (Translated by C. M.)
Books in Estonian
Öö tuli liiga vara. Vadstena: Orto, 1945, 347 lk. [Järgnev trükk: Vadstena: Orto, 1946, 349 lk.]
Kaarnakünka. Stockholm: Eesti Teataja, 1946, 229 lk.
Soolased tuuled. Tallinn: Eesti Kirjastus, 1944, 380 lk. [Järgnevad trükid: Vadstena: Orto, 1946, 418 lk; Lund: Eesti Kirjanike Kooperatiiv, 1964, 307 lk; Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 2001, 325 lk.]
Kodusadama tuled. Vadstena: Orto, 1947, 293 lk.
Hingemaa. Vadstena: Orto, 1948, 312 lk.
Prohvet. Vadstena: Orto, 1950, 392 lk. [Järgnev trükk: Tallinn: Logos, 1998, 462 lk.]
Tulised vankrid. I. Lund: Eesti Kirjanike Kooperatiiv, 1953, 261 lk.
Tulised vankrid. II. Lund: Eesti Kirjanike Kooperatiiv, 1953, 267 lk.
Jumalad lahkuvad maalt. Lund: Eesti Kirjanike Kooperatiiv, 1956, 439 lk. [Järgnevad trükid: Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1996, 334 lk; Tallinn: Eesti Päevaleht, 2008, 409 lk.]
Toone tuuled üle maa. Lund: Eesti Kirjanike Kooperatiiv, 1958, 380 lk. [Järgnev trükk: Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1997, 303 lk.]
Koju enne õhtut. Lund: Eesti Kirjanike Kooperatiiv, 1964, 324 lk. [Järgnev trükk: Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1997, 311 lk.]
Juudas. Lund: Eesti Kirjanike Kooperatiiv, 1969, 248 lk. [Järgnev trükk: Tallinn: Perioodika, 1988, 175 lk.]
Kadunud saar: noorusmälestusi. Lund: Eesti Kirjanike Kooperatiiv, 1972, 239 lk. [Järgnev trükk: Tallinn: Eesti Keele Sihtasutus, 2011, 248 lk.]
Ajastute vahetusel: mälestusi siit- ja sealtpoolt ookeani. Lund: Eesti Kirjanike Kooperatiiv, 1977, 212 lk.
Päästa meid ära kurjast: kolmas raamat mälestusi. Lund: Eesti Kirjanike Kooperatiiv, 1979, 205 lk. [Järgnev trükk: Tallinn: Kultuurileht, 2010, 193 lk.]
Meil pole jäädavat linna: neljas köide mälestusi. Lund: Eesti Kirjanike Kooperatiiv, 1981, 197 lk.