Paul Laan

Paul Laan

Paul Laan (birth name Paul Kirschmann, born 28 August 1928) is a philologist and poet living in Sweden.

Paul Laan was born to the family of a customs officer in Narva. From 1930–1939, the family lived in Paldiski. From 1939–1944, Laan lived in Haapsalu where he attended the Läänemaa County Co-educational Gymnasium. In 1944, he fled to Sweden.

From 1946, Paul Laan has lived in Stockholm where he completed the Estonian Gymnasium in 1948. From 1950–1955, Laan studied Swedish and general literature, German and Finno-Ugric languages, later librarianship at the National Library of Sweden. During his university studies, he attended lectures delivered in Estonian at the Estonian Research Institute by Andrus Saareste, Julius Mägiste, Johannes Aavik, Gustav Suits, Otto A. Webermann, and many others.

From 1961–1979, Laan worked as a bank clerk, librarian and secondary school teacher. From 1961, he taught Estonian at the Stockholm Estonian Gymnasium and later at several universities and until 2008 arranged courses and refresher courses of Estonian. From 1974–1978, Laan was the teacher of Estonian at Uppsala University, from 1970, academic secretary of the Estonian Language and Literature Institute (ELLI) founded at the Department of Finnish at Stockholm University, from 1985, chairman of the Institute. Laan took care of the correctness of the Estonian language in the Institute’s transactions. The most noteworthy of these transactions was the bulky Aastaraamat (‘Yearbook’, 1973), the publication of which he supervised as the managing editor. The book is dedicated to the poetess Marie Under, a honorary member of ELLI, and contains articles by K. Ristikivi, F. Oinas, J. Mägiste, I. Lehiste, J. Aavik, M. Valgemäe, F. Sivers, R. Rebane and other Estonian top researchers of the humanities. From 1959–1964, Laan belonged, along with Ivar Grünthal, to the editorial office of the journal Mana, which was published in Sweden. He continued as a member of its editorial board until 1972.

Paul Laan is a member of the Estonian Writers’ Union (from 1975 when he joined the Estonian Writers’ Union Abroad). He has published poems, articles and reviews in emigre Estonian periodicals Mana, Teataja, Rootsi Eesti Päevaleht and elsewhere.

“We do not live in memories. – Memories live in us,” Paul Laan declares firmly in his only book Mõttelend (‘Flight of Thought’, Stockholm, 1972), a collection of aphorisms, paradoxes and poems.

In 2004 Paul Laan was awarded the Order of the White Star, Class 4.

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

Books in Estonian

Mõttelend. Pilte ja peegeldusi. Stockholm: Mana, 1972, 147 lk.