„The Vitality of Native Peasant Blood”. The Role of Heredity in the Work of Aino Kallas Cover Image

"Algupärase talupojavere jõud". Eesti tõu küsimus Aino Kallase loomingus
„The Vitality of Native Peasant Blood”. The Role of Heredity in the Work of Aino Kallas

Author(s): Leena Kurvet-Käosaar
Subject(s): Literary Texts
Published by: SA Kultuurileht
Keywords: Aino Kallas; modernism; theories of race and heredity

Summary/Abstract: In her work, the Finnish-Estonian writer Aino Kallas (1878–1956) gives considerable attention to issues of race, blood and heredity, which was an important area of inquiry in late 19th and early 20th century Europe and also in Finland and in Estonia. Aino Kallas’ interest in the field was twofold. Firstly, she became engaged with issues of race and heredity in the process of tracing her own roots. Here her main focus was primarily on her paternal heritage, where she highlighted hereditary diversity as a source of talent and vitality. Secondly, in particular during her so-called Tartu period (1903–1917), Aino Kallas was quite intensely immersed in questions of the potential and limitations of the Estonian race, highlighting in particular „the vitality of native peasant blood” as the foundation of high-quality Estonian culture and as a guarantee of the advancement of Estonians as a nation. Her treatment of the subject follows the main foci of the debate both in Europe at large (works of Darwin, Taine, Lombroso, Morel, etc.) as well as the Estonian highlights of that debate (Johannes Aavik’s theory of ‘reverse selection’, Juhan Luiga’s ideas on the Northern spirit, etc.). Among her work that focuses on race and heredity issues, contemplations on her husband Oskar Kallas, composition of her portrait of Lydia Koidula in her biography Tähelend as well as her account of the „state of the art” and future potential of Estonian culture in view of the achievements of the „Noor-Eesti” movement stand out as examples of fine reflection on the treatment of race and heredity in Europe, Estonia and Finland, doubtless also offering an original contribution to these debates.

  • Issue Year: LII/2009
  • Issue No: 10
  • Page Range: 729-745
  • Page Count: 17
  • Language: Estonian