UNCANNY HOMECOMING IN ESTONIAN LITERATURE Cover Image

EBAÕDUS KOJUTULEK EESTI KIRJANDUSES
UNCANNY HOMECOMING IN ESTONIAN LITERATURE

Author(s): Leo Luks
Subject(s): Estonian Literature, Psychoanalysis, Phenomenology, Theory of Literature
Published by: SA Kultuurileht
Keywords: uncanny homecoming; Freud; phenomenology; Estonian literature;

Summary/Abstract: The article addresses homecoming as described in Estonian literature. First, a brief introduction is given to the theoretical foundations of the present approach to cosily settled vs. homeless, with references to some of the author’s earlier publications. Speaking from experience, homecoming from afar is a festive, even solemn occasion – thus, its literary depiction should presumably use the festive register. The main argument of the article is that a typical case of homecoming in Estonian literature is associated with a home lost, due to which homecoming fails to meet the expectations of a celebration, turning instead into a weird, if not scary experience. The theoretical basis of the article lies in Sigmund Freud’s treatment of the uncanny (das Unheimliche). It is argued that Freud’s approach is appropriate for the analysis of homecomings in Estonian literature. The theoretical introduction is followed by a parallel analysis of how homecoming is described in Estonian postwar exile literature and in homeland Estonian poetry. There follows a definition of the motifs of an eerie revenant and an empty house in Estonian literature (mainly based on Friedebert Tuglas’ short story Kuldne rõngas (“Golden ring”). The article is concluded by an analysis of homecoming as a frustrating experience as depicted in Peet Vallak’s short story Hulkur (“A vagabond”) and in Merca’s poem Saabumine (“Arrival”). The conclusive part of the article contains some rather far-reaching generalisations. It is argued that depiction of the cosy and the normal is not the mission of literature, which should instead generate malfunctions in the world of the everyday. It is doubted whether a literary work of high artistic value could ever be built on the sweet idyll of homecoming, which doubts are escalated in the following speculations about the onthology of literature and human nature. The article ends in a list of ways for the writer to avoid turning the description of a homecoming uncanny, namely, describe the homecoming as a process, but never depict the arrival.

  • Issue Year: LXI/2018
  • Issue No: 03
  • Page Range: 177-198
  • Page Count: 22
  • Language: Estonian