Addressing “You” in the Works of Tõnu Õnnepalu, Ülo Mattheus and Jaan Kaplinski Cover Image

Sina-kõnetlused tõnu õnnepalu, ülo mattheuse ja jaan kaplinski teostes
Addressing “You” in the Works of Tõnu Õnnepalu, Ülo Mattheus and Jaan Kaplinski

Author(s): Brita Melts
Subject(s): Studies of Literature, Estonian Literature, Philology, Stylistics
Published by: SA Kultuurileht
Keywords: explicit addressee; the “you” character; autobiographical narrative; Jaan Kaplinski; Ülo Mattheus; Tõnu Õnnepalu;

Summary/Abstract: The article looks at how the storyteller’s self-expression is directed to the second person addressee, using the example of three autobiographical works: these are Paradiis (Paradise, 2009) by Tõnu Õnnepalu, where the story of a fixed place and time is told to a young friend, Isale (To Father, 2003) by Jaan Kaplinski, seeking a dialogue with a father long dead and never met, and India armastus (The Love of India, 2006) by Ülo Mattheus, which consists of letters sent to the storyteller’s beloved during the several months spent in religious asylum. The comparison of the three texts seeks to clarify the role of the (second-person) addressee in each book, the compositional and stylistic meaning of the “you”, the possible influence of the storyteller’s thinking of the addressee on his self-presentation, and the voice and views of the “you” possibly elicited by the rhetorical address. In each book the storyteller relates differently to the “you”. Õnnepalu’s narrator keeps recurring to his memory of the addressee, yet there is no sign of active communication except some cryptic phrases. Mattheus’s narrator, however, addresses the “you” for the purpose of active communication, while the response keeps guiding the thematic course and tonality of the work and the relationship supports the self-analysis of the narrating “I”. In Kaplinski’s case the whole story has been written to create, based on documentary material, an idea of the explicit addressee, whose quiet voice belongs to an imaginary father figure. Thus, unlike Õnnepalu and Mattheus, Kaplinski depicts the pivotal communication process not as direct contact but rather as something imaginary. Now, each of the above three ways of address supports a different kind of storytelling. Õnnepalu addresses his “you” mainly from the position of a narrating “I”, while Kaplinski mediates a historical “I” based on family and development history, and Mattheus’s “I” could be classified as an ideological one, engaged in explaining the ideological foundations of his attitudes. Either way, all three texts use the second-person addressee not only for structuring the narrative but also for developing a dialogue: the imaginary “you” serves to amplify a self-based narrative into a self-critical reflection.

  • Issue Year: LXII/2019
  • Issue No: 11
  • Page Range: 879-895
  • Page Count: 17
  • Language: Estonian