Rein Veidemann (born 17. X 1946 in Pärnu) is an Estonian poet, prose writer, literary scholar, journalist, and lecturer. He attended a primary and secondary school from 1954 – 1965 in Pärnu. After serving in the army (1965 – 1968), he studied Estonian language and literature at the University of Tartu (1969 – 1974), and in 1984, he successfully defended his dissertation titled 'Estonian Soviet Literary Criticism 1958 – 1972', thus acquiring his PhD in philology.
He has previously worked as an editor for the newspaper Tartu Riiklik Ülikool (‘Tartu State University’) (1974 – 1977), a research secretary at the Estonian Literary Museum (1977 – 1980), a researcher at the Institute of Estonian Language and Literature (1980 – 1983), editor-in-chief of the journal Looming (1983 – 1986), editor-in-chief of the journal Vikerkaar (1986 – 1989), Chair of the Department of Literature at the Institute of Estonian Language and Literature (1990 – 1992), and adviser of the Ministry of Culture (1995 – 1998).
Later Veidemann has worked simultaneously in cultural journalism and universities. From 1998 – 2000, he was an associate professor of literary theory at the University of Tartu; from 2001 – 2005, chair of the department of Estonian literature and professor at the University of Tartu; and from 2005 – 2016, professor and chair of cultural studies, cultural politics and cultural history at Tallinn University. Since 2016, he has been professor emeritus at Tallinn University.
From 1997 – 2001, Veidemann worked as the head of the department of culture at the newspaper Eesti Päevaleht, and since 2001, for the newspaper Postimees as a literary editor and columnist. Over the years, he has published over 2,500 academic or journalistic articles. Veidemann’s part in the formation of Estonia’s contemporary literary criticism has been remarkable.
He has been politically active, belonging to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1972–1990), the Estonian Social Democratic Party (1990–1992), and the Estonian Centre Party (1992 – 1995). Additionally he belonged to the Supreme Council of the Republic of Estonia from 1990 – 1992 and was a member of Parliament from 1992 – 1995.
Veidemann has been awarded the Order of the White Star, V Class in 2001, the A.H. Tammsaare Prize for Literature in 2004 given by Albu parish, the Order of the National Coat of Arms, III Class in 2006, and the Jakob Hurt Award in 2016 for his culturally enlightening activities.
Since 1981, Veidemann has belonged to the Estonian Writers’ Union. In his youth, he published several literary criticisms under a pseudonym. He formally debuted in 1971. Veidemann’s literary work is characterized by passionate idealistic modes of expression, endeavoring for social justice. His insights are inspired by Juri Lotman’s semiotic philosophy of culture as well as an existential perception of life.
Veidemann has translated the work of Juri Lotman and Leonid Stolovich from Russian to Estonian.
M. K. (Translated by M. M.)
Books in Estonian / Raamatud eesti keeles
Lausungid ja pausid. Tallinn: Eesti Keele Sihtasutus, 2016, 80 lk.
Lastekodu: memorandum. Tallinn: Eesti Keele Sihtasutus, 2003, 396 lk.
Tund enne igavikku. Tallinn: Eesti Keele Sihtasutus, 2012, 218 lk.
Piimaring. Tallinn: Eesti Keele Sihtasutus, 2018, 273 lk.
Lunastatud. Tallinn: Eesti Keele Sihtasutus, 2020, 189 lk.
Arkaadia öö: kolm novelli ja lühiromaan novellides. Tallinn: Eesti Keele Sihtasutus, 2014, 214 lk.
Elu keskpäev. Esseid ja pihtimusi. Tallinn: Loomingu Raamatukogu, Perioodika, 1986, 70 lk.
Olla kriitik…. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1986, 292 lk.
Mälestus Golfi hoovusest. Tallinn: Perioodika, 1993, 143 lk.
Ajavahe. Tallinn, Eesti Raamat, 1996, 356 lk.
Kriitikakunst: uurimus kriitika olemisest ja toimest. Eesti kogemus. Tartu: Tartu Ülikool / Avita, 2000, 160 lk.
Kusagil Euroopas. Tallinn: Eesti Keele Sihtasutus, 2001, 312 lk.
Isiku tunnistus. Tallinn: SE & JS, 2006, 287 lk.
Tuikav tekst. Artikleid ja esseid eesti kirjandusest ja kultuurist 2005–2010. Tartu: Tartu Ülikooli Kirjastus, 2006, 254 lk.
Eksistentsiaalne Eesti. Tallinn: Tänapäev, 2010, 245 lk.
Must valgel. Valik sõnavõtte, kommentaare, arutlusi Eesti elust 2002–2011. Tallinn: Eesti Keele Sihtasutus, 2011, 212 lk.