August Kitzberg

Short storiesAugust Kitzberg. Photo: J. & P. Parikas


About August Kitzberg

August Kitzberg (29. XII 1855 – 10. X 1927) was a drama and prose writer, who also published satirical stories and verses.
Kitzberg spent his childhood in the southern part of Estonia in Halliste Parish located in the Mulgi dialect area (in Mulgimaa). There, he got an education from his brother, who was a teacher, and later he continued his education as a self-taught student. He also began working in Mulgimaa, moving with his brother in 1871 to Pöögle in Karksi Parish. For a long period he worked as a municipal and court clerk. Because of his lack of Russian-language knowledge, he was forced to give up the position of a parish clerk after municipality reform. In 1893, he searched for work in Viljandi, and, in 1894, he became an official at the spirits and yeast factory near Daugavpils. From 1898–1901, he worked as a clerk in a wagon factory in Riga. In 1901, he moved to Tartu, where he lived until the end of his life. He worked as a sales manager in the Postimees newspaper and as a bank officer until 1920.
Kitzberg began as a prose writer. After publishing the book Kodu-kurukesest (‘’Stories abot Homeplace’, 1878), which was based on his childhood and where he grew up, his first sizable literary work was a story called Maimu. In 1889, the manuscript received the Society of Estonian Men of Letters Award and was published as a book in 1892. It is a characteristic work within the waves of romantic historical prose, while still shining with its use of material from folklore.
At the end of the nineteenth century, Kitzberg wrote his first dramas, but he was still primarily focused on writing short prose during this period. His prose collection Ilmlik Jõuluraamat (‘The Secular Christmas Book’, 1894) was published, but many stories remained at the press and only later appeared in books once Kitzberg’s Külajutud (‘Village Stories’, I–V; 1915–1921) was published. In these texts, Kitzberg’s style smoothly transitions from romantic to realistic. A large part of the action happens in a village milieu, often in Mulgimaa. In many cases, Kitzberg used the South Estonian language in dialogue (the Mulgi dialect), which he also used in dramatic texts. Among the most prominent works of Kitzberg’s prose are the two longer and interconnected stories Veli Henn (‘Henn the Brother’, 1901) and Hennu veli (‘Henn’s Brother’, 1904), which combine comical and realistic imagery, and provide colorful characters with rich language use, including a conscious game of various language registers.
The important role of Kitzberg’s dramas expanded in the twentieth century, influenced in part by a fruitful collaboration with director Karl Menning. In an earlier creative stage, Kitzberg wrote comedies (Punga Mart ja Uba-Kaarel (‘Punga Mart and Uba-Kaarel’, 1894), Pila-Peetri testament (‘The Fool Peter’s Testament’, 1897), Rätsep Õhk (‘Õhk the Tailor’, 1903)), which were popular, and he continued to write them later (e.g. Püve talus (‘In the Püve Farm’, 1910)); however, in Tartu, the nature of his dramatic texts became more varied, and it was there that he wrote his most famous plays. The history of the Estonian professional theater began in 1906 in Tartu Vanemuine with Kitzberg’s drama Tuulte pöörises (‘In the Turning of the Winds’), which was brought to the stage by Menning. In this play, the complex relationships between characters are depicted with greater psychology and are tied to social issues, particularly the revolutionary events of 1905.
Kitzberg’s play Libahunt (‘Werewolf’, staged in 1911), became one the most well-known dramas of the twentieth century. It is the story of a love triangle, complicated by a superstitious folk background. The central character in the play, Tiina, is accused of being a freak werewolf; the widespread conservative village mentality clashes with her independent and free nature.
Among the most famous of Kitzberg’s dramas is the play Kauka Jumal (‘God of Mammon’, staged in 1912), a story focused on the power of money. Money or power problems are important themes in some of his other drama pieces as well (Enne kukke ja koitu (‘Before the Dawn’, staged 1918), Laurits (1919)).
Kitzberg published satirical stories and verses in the press, using aliases (Tiibuse Jaak, Tiibuse Mari, etc.). Some of these texts were also compiled in books (Tiibuse Jaak Tiibuse kirjavahetus I–II (‘The Correspondence of Tiibuse Jaak Tiibus’, 1920–1923), Tiibuse Mari ajalikud laulud (‘The Mortal Songs of Tiibuse Mari’, 1920)). His most significant work of the 1920s were memoirs published in two volumes (Ühe vana ‘tuuletallaja’ noorpõlve mälestused I-II (‘One Old “Luftmensch’s” Memories of Youth’, 1924–1925)), and it remains one of the most famous works in Estonian memoiristics.

M. V. (Translated by M. M.)

Books in Estonian

Short stories
Maimu: Jutt Eesti muinasajast. Tartu: K. A. Hermann, 1892, 128 lk. [Järgnevad trükid: 1893, 1911, 1960, 1986.]
Ilmlik Jõuluraamat. Tallinn: G. Pihlakas, 1894, 112 lk.
Weli Henn. Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1915, 112 lk.  
Hennu weli. Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1915, 92 lk.  
A. Kitzberg’i Külajutud. III. Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1915, 208 lk. [2. trükk: Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1923, 136 lk; 3. trükk: ‘A. Kitzberg’i külajutud. III-IV’, Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1928, 218 lk.]
A. Kitzberg’i Külajutud. I. Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1916, 154 lk. [2. trükk: ‘A. Kitzberg’i külajutud. I ja II’, Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1923, 175 lk.]
A. Kitzberg’i külajutud. II. Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1919, 116 lk. [2. trükk: ‘A. Kitzberg’i külajutud. I ja II’, Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1923, 175 lk.]
A. Kitzberg’i külajutud. IV. Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1920, 118 lk. [2. trükk: ‘A. Kitzberg’i külajutud. III-IV’, Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1928, 218 lk.]  
A. Kitzberg’i külajutud. V. Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1921, 147 lk.  
A. Kitzberg’i lastejutud: üks vanamoodi raamat. Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1925, 111 lk.  
Jutustused. Valitud teosed II. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1955, 535 lk. [2. trükk 1956.]
Lastejutte. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1956, 29 lk. [2. trükk: 1979.]
Külajutud. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1971, 431 lk.
Valik külajutte. Koostanud Ants Järv. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1983, 184 lk.
Külajutud. Koostanud Ants Järv. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 2002, 520 lk.

Plays (first editions)
Punga-Mart ja Uba-Kaarel: Viiejärguline näitemäng rahva elust. Viljandi: 1894, 56 lk.
Pila-Peetri testament: Näitemäng kahes waatuses. Tartu: K. Sööt, 1897, 48 lk.
Wana wanaga ja noor noorega ehk igale potile kohane kaas: Nali ühes waatuses. Tartu: K. Sööt, 1897, 38 lk.
Rättsepp Õhk: Wiiejärguline näitemäng rahwa elust. Tartu: 1903, 88 lk.
Tuulte pöörises: draama wiies waatuses. Tartu: 1906, 128 lk.
Püwe talus: Külaelupilt wiies waatuses. Viljandi: H. Leoke, 1910, 111 lk.
Kawal-Ants ja Wanapagan: Muinaslooline naljamäng wiies waatuses. Viljandi: H. Leoke, 1912, 80 lk.  
Libahunt: Draama wiies waatuses. Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1912, 109 lk.
Kosjasõit: Jant kolmes vaatuses, laulu ja tantsuga. Tartu: 1915, 54 lk.
Kauka Jumal: Rahwatükk 5 waatuses (6 pildis). Tartu: 1915, 99 lk.
Enne kukke ja koitu. Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1919, 95 lk.
Laurits: kolmevaatusline näidend. Tallinn: Varrak, 1919, 79 lk.
Onu Zipul: nali ühes vaatuses. Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1922, 24 lk.  
Neetud talu: komöödia neljas vaatuses. Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1923, 80 lk.
A. Kitzberg’i lastenäidendid. Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1928, 352 lk.  
Näidendid. II. Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1937, 269 lk.  
Valitud näidendid. Tallinn: Eesti Kirjastus, 1943, 308 lk.  
Valitud näidendid. Enne kukke ja koitu; Libahunt; Kauka jumal; Laurits. Tallinn: Ilukirjandus ja Kunst, 1949, 318 lk.  
Näidendid. Valitud teosed I. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1955, 703 lk.
Kuri kuningatütar: valimik lastenäidendeid. Koostanud Edvin Hiedel. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1986, 152 lk.

Kodu-kurukesest: Mõnda ilusalt isamaalt: Pöögle lastepidu mälestuseks aastal 1878. Tartu: 1878, 44 lk.
Tiibuse Jaak Tiibuse kirjawahetus. Kogunud ja wäljaannud A. Kitzberg. Tallinn: 1920, 168 lk.  
Tiibuse Jaak Tiibuse kirjawahetus. II. Kogunud ja wäljaannud A. Kitzberg. Tallinn: Tallinna Eesti Kirjastus-Ühisus, 1923, 299 lk.  
Ühe vana “tuuletallaja” noorpõlve mälestused. I. Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1924, 174 lk. [Järgnevad trükid: 1936, 1957, 1973, 2010.]
Ühe vana “tuuletallaja” noorpõlve mälestused. II. Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1925, 176 lk. [Järgnevad trükid: 1957, 1973, 2010.]

Tiibuse Mari ajalikud laulud. Kogunud ja pühendanud Marie Underile, Henrik Wisnapuule ja Arthur Adsonile, kes minnu luuletama on õrritanu, Mari Tiibus. Tallinn: Tallinna Eesti Kirjastus-Ühisus, 1920, 32 lk.