Tõnis Lehtmets

Short stories Tõnis Lehtmets


Tõnis Lehtmets (born 22 October 1937) is a prose writer and poet.

Lehtmets was born in Rakvere. His parents were farmers at Luusika village, Paasvere parish, in Virumaa County. He attended primary school at Venevere and, from 1952–1956, Rakvere Secondary School No. 1. From 1956–1961, he studied Estonian language and literature at Tartu State University From 1962–1972, Tõnis Lehtmets worked for the newspapers Noorte Hääl and Edasi, from 1974–1985, as a consultant at Tartu department of the Estonian Writers’ Union, later as a professional writer. He was a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1968–1989 and has been a member of the Estonian Writers’ Union from 1962.

Lehtmets made his debut with poems and stories in 1955. He has published four poetry collections, the first of which appeared in 1960. In the writer’s own words, throughout his life, his creation has been influenced by his childhood in the faraway forest village where work was done with primitive agrarian tools, the example of his parents who, although poorly educated, had cultural interests and impressions of forest in different seasons. Lehtmets’ poetry deals with rural themes, and the language is folksy. In addition to the scenery, circumstances and people of his home place, the themes of his poetry include Tartu – the town of his studies – and impressions of Kazakhstan, Siberia and Karelia.

The main theme of Tõnis Lehtmets’ prose is abandonment of farms and urbanisation. He has published two novels and several short stories. Lehtmets’ novel Tume laas (‘Dark Forest’, 1978) depicts the fates of people of forest villages in 1947–1949. It is one of the first and also most truthful depictions of the life of forest brothers (anti-Soviet guerillas), which caused the author problems with Soviet government institutions and censorship. The novel Kompromiss (‘Compromise’, 1982) shows the life of journalists and the cultural scene of Tartu. As the book critically depicted the authoritarianism of the management system, it caused vehement reactions.

L. P. (Translated by I. A.)

Books in Estonian

Tume laas. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1978. 212 lk.
Kompromiss: sentimentaalse mehe mälestusi. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1982. 176 lk.

Kohtumine vanaema aias [jutustus]. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1966. 264 lk.
Pakane [dokumentaaljutustus]. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1967.  87 lk.
Margapuuga mõõdetud maa: jutustusi. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1976. 127 lk.

Esimesed värsid (1956–1959). Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1960. 91 lk.
Tänavad ja tanumad: luuletusi aastaist 1959–1961. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1962. 96 lk.
Kodumurul: luuletused (1962–1964). Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1966. 75 lk.
Lõkkemõtted. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1974. 86 lk.