Ilmar Vene

About Ilmar Vene Ilmar Vene


Ilmar Vene (b. 13. VIII 1951) is an essayist and translator.

Ilmar Vene was born in the village of Kasepää on the shore of Lake Peipsi, the son of a farm worker. He attended Varnja primary school and Alatskivi secondary school. From 1970 to 1975 he studied German language and literature at the University of Tartu. From 1976 to 1979 he worked as a teacher of German at Laekvere school. In 1979 he started work in the library of the University of Tartu. Since 2005 he has been a member of the Estonian Writers’ Union.

Vene’s first book, Vahemere tuuled Hüperboreas (‘Mediterranean Winds in Hyperborea’), appeared in 1997 in the ‘History of Estonian Thought’ series, collecting together short essays which had previously appeared in the press. Ilmar Vene’s essays mostly deal with Christian culture in antiquity and the Middle Ages, and with the history of European literature, as well as the philosophy of language and cultural history more generally.

Vene interprets history through individuals, whose contemporary backgrounds and world-views he emphatically expresses. He has written studies of Gustave Flaubert, F. R. Kreutzwald, Uku Masing and Karl Ristikivi. Vene has produced translations from Latin, English and German by such authors as Seneca, Cicero, Augustine, Francis Bacon, Goethe, George Julius von Schultz-Bertram, Jacob Burckhardt and Hermann von Keyserling. He added prefaces and commentaries to his translations. He has also published poems in the journal Looming and in the early nineties wrote a dozen or so short stories.

In 2013 Ilmar Vene won the Estonian Literature Endowment annual award for the essay Irooniline kolmainsus Hando Runnel mõtlemisviisi taustal (‘The Ironic Trinity Behind Hando Runnel’s’ Way of Thinking’) and the monograph Kaugenemised: täheldusi Karl Ristikivist (‘Divergences: Observations about Karl Ristikivi’, 2013).

L. P. (Translated by C. M.)

Books in Estonian

Tookord. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2022. 312 lk.

Vahemere tuuled Hüperboreas. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 1997. 399 lk.
Trotsija: katse mõista Uku Masingut. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2001. 189 lk.
Pahustumine ehk Uusaja olemus. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2002. 365 lk.
Meie klassik: täheldusi Kreutzwaldist. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2003. 45 lk.
Ristiusu mõistatus: jumalinimesest inimjumalani. Tallinn: Patmos, 2009. 202 lk.
Irooniline kolmainsus Hando Runneli mõtlemisviisi taustal. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2013. 143 lk.
Kaugenemised: täheldusi Karl Ristikivist. Tallinn: Tuum, 2013. 261 lk.

Jüri Arrak, Ilmar Vene, Ilma naljata: kirjavahetus 1994–2000. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2016. 487 lk.
Jüri Arrak, Ilmar Vene, Kiri ei peta: kirjavahetus 2001–2008. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2017. 548 lk.
Jüri Arrak, Ilmar Vene, Õhtumaiselt: kirjavahetus 2009–2017. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2018. 550 lk.