Voldemar Õun

About Voldemar Õun


Voldemar Õun (pseudonym Mardikas, 7 I 1893 / 26 XII 1892 – 4 I 1986) was a prose writer.

Õun was born and attended school in Tallinn and graduated from the Faculty of Law at the University of Tartu in 1937. He held several jobs related to law, being, for example, secretary to the Chancellor of Justice of the Republic of Estonia. In 1944, he left for Sweden where he worked in factories and died in Gothenburg, being buried in Kviberg Cemetery there.

Voldemar Õun entered literature under the pseudonym of Mardikas receiving the third prize for his novel Tint (‘Ink’, 1938) and the first prize for Konarlik tee (‘Bumpy Road’, 1939) at the novel competition of the Loodus publishing house. The novels unveil the world of officials and lawyers with its various ethical problems. The central character in both novels is Alfred Niilep, at the beginning a law student, later a lawyer, whose life and career are followed. Niinep is also the protagonist of the novel Uus evangeelium (‘New Gospel’, I–II, 1953), which is set against the background of the epoch-making events of 1940 and 1941. The lawyer’s view dissects the essence of the Soviet society, sometimes with pungent satire. The violent and inhumane nature of the new regime is revealed without illusions.

The absurdity of the Soviet regime and the so-called (wo)man in the street being caught in the cogwheels of the large machinery is also the theme of the novel Viis paari susse (‘Five Pairs of Slippers’, 1952). The action takes place in Leningrad of the 1930s where, during a campaign against profiteers, an old woman who has sold five pairs of slippers at a market is stigmatised as dangerous element and convicted to prison for several years.

Õun’s characteristic features are business-like realism and good development of the plot; psychological depiction of characters is of smaller significance.

A. K. (Translated by I. A.)

Books in Estonian

Mardikas, Tint. Tartu, Tallinn, 1938, 340 lk. [2 trükk: 2015.]
Mardikas, Konarlik tee. Tartu, Tallinn: Loodus, 1939, 373 lk. [2 trükk: 2016.]
Viis paari susse: üks Nõukogude lugu. Lund: Eesti Kirjanike Kooperatiiv, 1952, 287 lk.
Uus evangeelium. 1. kd. Lund: Eesti Kirjanike Kooperatiiv, 1953, 334 lk. [Järgmised trükid: 2009, 2019.]
Uus evangeelium. 2. kd. Lund: Eesti Kirjanike Kooperatiiv, 1953, 310 lk. [Järgmised trükid: 2009, 2019.]