Jüri Talvet

Jüri Talvet. Photo: Vladas BraziunasPoems


About Jüri Talvet

Jüri Talvet (b. 17.12. 1945) is a poet, essayist, literary scholar, translator, and university professor. From 1953 to 1964, he studied at the Lydia Koidula High School No. 2 in Pärnu. After his military service, he attended the University of Tartu, graduating with a degree in English philology in 1972. From 1972–1973 he was a literary collaborator for the university newspaper Tartu Ülikool. Talvet received his PhD in Western literature from the University of Leningrad in 1981. In 1974, he began teaching the history of Western literature at the University of Tartu. He has worked as a professor and chair of the Department of Comparative Literature at the university since 1992. That same year, Talvet founded the Department of Spanish Language and Literature and has headed it ever since. He has complemented his studies at the University of Havana (1979–1980), Complutense University of Madrid (1985), and later at different universities in Spain, the USA, and Germany. He has been a member of the Estonian Writers’ Union since 1984.

Talvet has been a guest lecturer and taken part in conferences at universities around the world. He has published numerous exploratory articles and essays in Estonian and in foreign journals and collections about the Spanish language and world literature. He has contributed to Estonian literary research with a monograph on the poetry of Juhan Liiv as well as treatments on F. R. Kreutzwald’s epic Kalevipoeg, K. J. Peterson, and the poetry and prose of the second half of the twentieth century. In 1994, Talvet was one of the founders of the Estonian Association of Comparative Literature and, until 2009, was the chairman of its board. In 1996, he founded the international journal of comparative literature Interlitteraria, for which he is editor-in-chief. From 2000–2007, Talvet was a member of the ICLA (International Comparative Literature Association) executive committee. Since 2012, he has been the vice-chairman of the IAELC (International Association of Ethical Literary Criticism). In 2016 he was elected as an ordinary member of Academia Europaea.

Talvet made his literary debut in 1981 with the poetry collection Äratused (‘Awakenings’). In 2014, the anthology Eesti eleegia ja teisi luuletusi 1981-2012 (‘Estonian Elegy and Other Poems’) was published, which summarizes his poetry from more than 30 years. His essays and partly also his poetry can be characterized by cultural, philosophical inclinations. From the beginning of the 21st century, translations of his poetry and essays have also attracted attention outside of Estonia.

Talvet started as a translator in the beginning of the 1970s while writing about the works of the translated authors. He has translated works of classical and modern literature from many languages, including Spanish  (e.g. Lazarillo de Tormes, Tirso de Molina’s El burlador de Sevilla y convidado de piedra (‘The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest’), P. Calderon de la Barca’s La vida es sueño (‘Life is a dream’); short stories by G. Garcia Marquez and M. Vargas Llosa), English (Surely as Birds Fly by H.L. Hix), French (Vinum Mysticum by Vantchev de Thracy), and Catalan (poems by J. Cervera).

In 2006, Talvet founded the book series Maailmakirjanduse tõlkevaramu (‘Classics of World Literature’), Kaasaegne mõte (‘Contemporary Thought’), and Kaasajaluule (‘Contemporary Poetry’) under University of Tartu Press. Talvet has compiled, edited, and partially translated Ameerika luule antoloogia (‘Anthology of American Poetry’, 2008). His translations of world poetry have been gathered in a two-volume anthology Valitud tõlkeluulet I-II. (‘Selected Poetry Translations’, 2021). He has also compiled the collections of Ivar Ivask’s essays Tähtede tähendust tunda (2003) and Hetked igavikust (2010), the collection of Juhan Liiv’s poetry Lumi tuiskab, mina laulan (2013) as well as Juhan Liiv’s collections in English The Mind Would Bear No Better (2007) and Snow Drifts, I Sing (2013).

Jüri Talvet has been awarded the Estonian Annual Prize of Literature in 1986, the Order of Isabella the Catholic (for his activity in Spanish studies, 1992), the Juhan Liiv Prize of Poetry (1997), the Order of the White Star (2001), the Ivar Ivask Memorial Prize for Poetry and Essay (2002), the International Naji Naaman Literature Honor Prize (for complete work, 2020), the Estonial National Lifetime Achievement Award for Research (2021), the Jaan Kross Literary Prize (2022, for 2-volume Valitud tõlkeluulet 1970-2020 – ‘Selected Poetry Translations, 1970-2020’) and Golden Ivy International Poetry Prize (Fushun, China, 2022). He is also the honorary citizen of Tartu (from 2021).

A. N.

Books in Estonian

Äratused. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1981, 87 lk.
Ambur ja karje. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1986, 71 lk.
Hinge kulg ja kliima üllatused. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1990, 95 lk.
Eesti eleegia ja teisi luuletusi 1978-1995. Tallinn: Kupar, 1997, 135 lk.
Kas sul viinamarju ka on?. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2001, 79 lk.
Unest, lumest. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2005, 78 lk.
Silmad peksavad une seinu. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2008, 80 lk.
Isegi vihmal on hing. / Jüri Perler, Oo Hamlet mu vend!. Tartu: TÜ Kirjastus, 2010, 138 lk.
Eesti eleegia ja teisi luuletusi 1981-2012. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2014, 375 lk.
oikumeeniline missa. (sada aastat sai sest kui eesti riik sündis …). värsskroonika 2017-2018. Tallinn: J. Perler, 2018, 74 lk.

Tsampika ja teisi luuletusi. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2020, 84 lk.

Teekond Hispaaniasse. Tallinn: Perioodika, 1985,  102 lk. [Essays.]
Hispaaniast Ameerikasse. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1992, 269 lk. [Essays. Contents: ‘Teekond Hispaaniasse’, 2nd ed, ‘Troobid troopikas’, ‘Mehhiko südames’, ‘Managua päevik’.]
Hispaania vaim. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 1995, 384 lk. [Essays.]
Ameerika märkmed ehk kaemusi Eestist. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2000, 143 lk. [Essays.]
Sümbiootiline kultuur: mõtisklus U-st. Tartu: Tartu Ülikooli Kirjastus, 2005, 75 lk. [Essays.]
Tõrjumatu äär. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2005, 525 lk. [Essays.]
Juhan Liivi luule. Monograafia. Tallinn: Tänapäev, 2012, 245 lk. [A monograph.]
Kümme kirja Montaigne’ile. „Ise“ ja „teine“.  Tartu: Tartu Ülikooli Kirjastus, 2014, 175 lk. [Essays.]
Luulest. Tartu: Tartu Ülikooli Kirjastus, 2015, 445 lk. [Essays.]
Tundmised. Tartu: Tartu Ülikooli Kirjastus, 2019, 207 lk.
Sünnimaa, kui tõusta suudad… Rahvusliku vaimuloome algustest. Tartu: TÜ Kirjastus, 2024. 120 lk. [Essays.]