Lilli Promet

Poems Lilli Promet


Short stories and novellas


About Lilli Promet

Lilli Promet (full name Lilli Linda Promet, 16. II 1922 – 16. II 2007) was one of the most popular Estonian prose writers of the 1960s and 70s. To this day, she remains as one of the most translated Estonian writers.

She was born in Pechory, her father Aleksander Promet was a painter. She studied in Nõmme and Tallinn and later ceramics in the State Industrial Art School. From 1940-1941, she worked for the newspaper Noorte Hääl. During the Second World War, she evacuated to Tatarstan, Russia, where she worked as a teacher, among other things. In 1943, she was sent to work in Leningrad when it was under siege. There, she worked as an Estonian language editor of radio programs. In 1944, she returned to Estonia and worked for different publications. From 1951, she was a freelance writer living in Tallinn. She became a member of the Estonian Writers’ Union in 1958 and became a Merited Writer of the ESSR in 1971. She was married to writer Ralf Parve (1919-2011). Their son was a journalist, humorist and politician Ralf R. Parve (1946-2008). Lilli Promet is buried in Tallinna Metsakalmistu (‘Forest Cemetery’).

Her writing debut came in 1944 with a poem for the Estonian Soviet partisan newspaper Tasuja that was published in Leningrad. She published prose stories in various periodicals during her years of working in journalism. At the beginning of her writing career, she mostly wrote short prose. Her first books were the collection of novelettes and mini-prose Ainult puhtast armastusest (‘Only of Pure Love’, LR, 1958), the story collection Puhta kunsti jüngrid (‘Disciples of Pure Art’, 1958) and the travel book 3 x pakitud kohver. Reisipilte Saksamaalt, Bulgaariast, Soomest (‘3 x Packed Suitcase. Travel Stories from Germany, Bulgaria and Finland’, 1958). She secured a strong position in Estonian prose, which was further fortified with the collections Roosa kübar (‘Pink Hat’, 1961) and Lamav tiger (‘Lying Tiger’, 1964). The selected collection Üleannetu maa (‘Mischievous Land’, 1977) provides an overview of her short prose.

In her later years, she concentrated on longer prose. Her war novels are Meesteta küla (‘A Village Without Men’, 1962, revised edition in 1972), which takes place in Tatarstan and depicts those who evacuated from Estonia to Russia in 1941, and Tüdrukud taevast (‘Girls from Heaven’, 1979), which depicts German occupation era Estonia. Unlike other writers of the time, Promet often depicts characters of different nationalities with the plot taking place outside of Estonia. Such is the case with the novel Primavera (1971) as well, in which Italy forms the backdrop to the events happening to Soviet tourists.

Promet’s characters have complicated natures, they are usually intellectuals, artists, officials. She depicts relationships and the human character from different points of view and her plots often take place in cities. Her detail-rich style of depiction is influenced by her art studies and her creative development by her war-time experiences, which inspired many novels.

The drama Los Caprichos (published in the magazine Looming in 1973, as a book in 1976) is inspired by a series of the same name by Fancisco Goya and condemns violence and the oppression of human rights and free spirit. Else, Teeba prints (‘Else, Prince of Thebes’, Looming, 1982) depicts the story of Else Lasker-Schüler, a German poet, and her adversity with her contemporary times.

The collection Taputilgake (‘The Killing Drop’, 1986) includes allegorical and satirical literary fairy tales. Her journalism collections Imelik raamat (‘Strange Book’, 1965) and Raamita pildid (‘Frameless Pictures’, 1976) include reviews, interviews, portrayals of artists and writers together with personal pieces.

The films Roosa kübar (‘Pink Hat’, Tallinnfilm, 1963), Tütarlaps mustas (‘Girl in Black’, Tallinnfilm, 1967), Ühe suve akvarellid (‘The Watercolors of A Summer’, Eesti Telefilm, 1967), Pimedad aknad (‘Dark Windows’, Eesti Telefilm, 1968) and the documentary Elsa Maasik (Eesti Telefilm, 1969) are based on her prose writings and screenplays.

A. K. (Translated by A. S.)

Books in Estonian

Meesteta küla. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1962, 319 lk. [Järgnevad trükid: 1972, 1981.]
Primavera. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1971, 216 lk. [Järgnevad trükid:  1981, 2009, 2016.]
Tüdrukud taevast. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1979, 216 lk. [2. trükk: 1982.]
Iisabel. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1992, 190 lk.

Ainult puhtast armastusest. Novelle ja laaste. Tallinn: Ajalehtede-Ajakirjade Kirjastus (Loomingu Raamatukogu), 1958, 58 lk.
Püha kunsti jüngrid. Jutustusi. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1958, 239 lk.
Roosa kübar. Novellid ja miniatuurid. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1961, 224 lk.
Lamav tiiger. Novellid, laastud ja miniatuurid. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1964, 296 lk.
Kes levitab anekdoote?. Jutustused. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1967, 368 lk.
Üleannetu maa. Jutustused, novellid ja miniatuurid. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1977, 672 lk.

Iibelpuu. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1970, 112 lk.
Õhtusel alleel. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1989, 118 lk.

Travel books
Lilli Promet, Ralf Parve, 3 x pakitud kohver. Reisipilte Saksamaalt, Bulgaariast, Soomest. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1958, 232 lk.
Lilli Promet, Ralf Parve, Kohtumine Marianne’iga. Reisirevüü Prantsusmaalt. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1963, 96 lk.
Lilli Promet, Ralf Parve, 7 kirja Poolast. Reisimärkmeid. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1965, 96 lk.
Lilli Promet, Ralf Parve, Kahekesi teel. Reisimuljeid Poola Rahvavabariigist, Ungari Rahvavabariigist ja Rumeenia Sotsialistlikust Vabariigist. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1975, 184 lk.

Los Caprichos. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1976, 110 lk. [2. trükk: 1983.]

Children’s books
Pannkoogirõõm. Värsslood nooremale koolieale. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1984, 32 lk.
Taputilgake. Muinasjutud. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1986, 77 lk.
Kuningal on häda. Bufonaad 2 vaatuses: vanemale koolieale. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1989, 47 lk.

Imelik raamat. Publitsistika ja proosa. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1965, 276 lk.
Raamita pildid. Publitsistikat. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1976, 152 lk.
Aheldatud muusa. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1997, 253 lk.

Collected works
Teosed, 1. köide. Meesteta küla. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1981, 294 lk.
Teosed, 2. köide. Primavera. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1981, 198 lk.
Teosed, 3. köide. Tüdrukud taevast. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1982, 214 lk.
Teosed, 4. köide. Pesamaa. Jutustused. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1982, 413 lk.
Teosed, 5. köide. Kui tuhkpuu õitseb. Novellid, miniatuurid ja luuletused. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1983, 262 lk.
Teosed, 6. köide. Maastikuhääled. Näidendid, publitsistika. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1983, 511 lk.