TUNA Summary No. 3, 2012
Jaan Ruus. Estonian Film is Waiting for Exegetes
Aside from the fundamental question of which film to consider as the very first Estonian film, the fact that the first Estonian films, with rare exceptions, have not survived is a problem. The pioneer of the history of Finnish film Kari Uustalo started by systematising film advertisements from old newspapers. Reviews and theoretical articles can nevertheless also be found in Estonian newspapers as well by searching thoroughly. Continuity in Estonian cinema has yet to be more extensively researched. Source materials concerning Estonian film at important moments in film history have for the most part not yet been properly recorded. Speaking at a gathering held at the convocation hall at the University of Tartu on the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of Estonian Film in his presentation on Estonian film and difficulties of interpretation, Prof. Peeter Torop stressed how important the self-expression and self-description of culture, the auto-communication of culture (resp. film) is. And Torop has already previously warned that if descriptive language does not originate with the birth of a work of art, then no trace will be left in culture. To this day, there is no comprehensive history of Estonian film.
The history of Estonian film and cinema is waiting for culture historians and film historians to correctly allocate its precise moments of birth and the pivotal events in its growth in a chronological table and to do so in the context of Estonian, or even better world culture.
Anu Mänd. Women, Memoria and Sacred Space in Late Medieval Livonia
The aim of this article is to analyse artworks connected to memoria and the rituals of commemoration from the perspective of gender. The article focuses particularly (though not only) on the urban upper and middle strata, meaning the wives and widows of merchants and artisans. First, I have explored the role of women in corporate associations: in which context guild sisters were referred to in the statutes of guilds and confraternities, how their participation was regulated in the rituals of burial and commemoration, and whether they were entrusted with some special task during these rituals. Thereafter, I have investigated the strategies and opportunities of women of different social, economic and marital status for establishing their own memoria by, for example, endowing a chantry (vicaria), commissioning a tombstone, or donating a liturgical object.
From the latter half of the 15th century until the events of the Reformation, which in Riga and Tallinn culminated in 1524, women from the urban elite were comparatively active in sponsoring memorial masses and intercessory prayers for themselves and their ancestors. The widows of vassals and merchants, particularly the childless ones, could naturally afford to spend much larger sums on their memoria than for example middle- class women. They endowed chantries, donated expensive objects to the church (e.g. stained-glass windows, pews, chalices, etc.), and designed their own burial and annual commemoration. They prescribed what was to be depicted on the donated objects (e.g. their patron saint and coat of arms) and where and when it had to be used. They had the act of donation recorded in documents or inscribed on the vessel. All these were means for emphasising the high status, wealth and power of these women, to perpetuate their memory and to pave their way to Paradise.
Poorer women had limited opportunities to contribute to their memoria. They could join a religious guild or confraternity in order to guarantee a decent burial for themselves and to be remembered in the intercessory prayers of the confraternity members.
Women, unlike men, had multiple identities – they could define themselves as a member of their natal or marital family. Consequently, women could decide if they wished to be buried beside their spouse or elsewhere, for example, in their parents’ burial place. Noble widows could decide if they wanted their tombstone (or other objects) decorated with their husband’s coat of arms, with their own or with both. All these decisions provide us with valuable information on the secular and religious aspirations of women and of their self-perception.
Although women played a far more modest role in public life than men, they had the opportunity to influence the sacred sphere through their commemorative bequests and to some extent even to “feminise” it. Typical of their gender, women donated clothes, jewellery and household items. A particularly personal gift “from a woman to a woman” was a rosary, adornment or dress that was meant to decorate the statue of the Virgin Mary or some other female saint. Liturgical vessels, furniture and tombstones commissioned by women or for women, and provided with their coat of arms or with a proper inscription, had a long-lasting influence on church interiors and functioned as bearers of collective memory.
Karsten Brüggemann. Memory and Identity of Russians in the Baltic States. On the Construction of the History of a National Minority
The present article aims, on the one hand, at an initial analysis of the large amount of literature 158 Tuna 3/2012 Summary 3/2012 that has accumulated over the last decade about Russians in the territory of the present day Baltic States. On the other hand, it is meant as an appeal for a re-evaluation of the ethnic perspectives prevalent in local history writing. The history of Russians permanently settling in the region dates back at least to the late 17th century, and the work of Tartu professor emeritus Sergei Issakov has made the greatest contribution to bringing this to light. The first part of his recently published study devoted to the history of Russians in Estonia serves as a starting point for the broader analysis attempted in this article.
What is striking in the literature on Russians in the region so far is the concentration on more or less well known individuals. This might have something to do with the predominance of literary scholars in the field, but it leaves the picture socially imbalanced. If Issakov is right, then Russians today don’t have a sense of the historical roots of their kin in the region. However, if you want to create a sensibility for this historical presence, you can hardly achieve it through a perspective focused on the elites only. Therefore, we need more stories of the multiple layers of Russian historical experience in the region: How did Russian women and men live in Riga in 1820, 1850, 1930? How different was this experience for merchants, craftspeople and workers? What can we say about imperial soldiers or officials based in Reval or Riga just for a few years? How did the predominant Protestantism in the Baltic provinces affect Russians? Do we know anything about the particular Russian- Jewish-German symbiosis in the urban milieus in the 19th century? Can we say anything about Russian migrants in the early 20th century, not the least in order to put Soviet mass immigration in a proper historical context?
However, the construct of an ethnic group tends to isolate its members from the surrounding milieus. Therefore, we would benefit from a comprehensive history of communication between the various social and ethnic groups historically present in the territory of the modern Baltic States. So far, Issakov’s study provides us with a very welcome missing link between the already existing separate stories of Baltic Germans and Estonians. Hopefully, this kind of research can encourage the development of a strong local identity of the Russian minority as a much needed prerequisite for cultural integration and as a bridge over the breach of the years 1940/41 that was felt by local Russians no less than by Estonians.
Meelis Maripuu. Restoration of Estonia’s Domestic Administrative Authority under the Conditions of the War between the Soviet Union and Germany See Tuna 2012, no. 1 (55) pg.159
DOCUMENTS AND COMMENTARY
Valdur Ohmann. Kõrkküla, or about the Cross of the Russian Boyar Vassili Rosladin
The limestone cross erected at the place where the Russian boyar Vassili Rosladin perished stands at the side of the Tallinn-Narva highway 81 kilometres from Narva. It is located on the periphery of a small place known as Kõrkküla. Vassili Rosladin fled to the Swedish side from the repressions of the Russian tsar Ivan the Terrible. The scant information about Vassili Rosladin and his arrival in Estonia under Swedish rule is gathered together in this article.
Vassili Rosladin entered into the service of Sweden. He fell in battle in the course of an attack by Russian forces on 4 February 1590. There is an inscription in German (on the western side) and in Old Slavic on the other side (on the eastern side) of the limestone cross that marks that event. There have been no problems in interpreting the German language text. Reading together and interpreting the Old Slavic text has thus far been problematic. The roots of the problem lie in the fact that the interpretation of the text has been based on Baltic German drawings of the cross which do not convey what is written very authentically. The drawings made by the Baltic Germans were not necessarily very precise because they did not understand Old Slavic text. The German language text has by now almost completely fallen off the cross due to climatic effects. The Old Slavic text is also fading but can still be made out. Fading text is a serious problem in archival matters yet this problem can also be encountered in connection with inscriptions. In seeking clarification concerning the text of the Old Slavic inscription, Aleksei Gippius, doctor of philosophy specialising in philology and correspondent member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, was contacted. He was prepared to attempt to read together and interpret what was written on the cross. Aleksei Gippius received the Baltic German drawing of the stone cross in the initial phase of the writing of this article. The drawing has for the last couple of centuries been the main source according to which researchers have attempted to discover the content of the text. The reply from Aleksei Gippius based on the drawing appeared to be uncertain from a text interpretation standpoint. In the course of subsequent research, it came to light that a rather sharply focused, high quality photograph was made some twenty years ago of the Old Slavic text on the Kõrkküla stone cross. The photograph was sent to Aleksei Gippius in Moscow. His reply arrived shortly thereafter and demonstrated much more certainty and optimism.
The computer makes it possible to enlarge or scale down photographs, to sharpen their focus and to add other additional values that were not available to previous interpreters of the text. Consequently, it Tuna 3/2012 159 Summary 3/2012 can be asserted that Aleksei Gippius reached higher levels in interpreting the Old Slavic text compared to preceding attempts. The text of the Old Slavic inscription is published in this article as read together and written out by Aleksei Gippius.
Even though the inscriptions are fading from Vassili Rosladin’s stone cross, a photograph of the Kõrkküla stone cross on which the Old Slavic text is readably recorded can be found due to the Estonian National Archive’s Fotis digitising project. This opens up the opportunity for specialists in the written Old Slavic language to study this text in the future as well. Regardless of damage caused by nature, we have succeeded in preserving information from a text that was carved into stone over 400 years ago, though in altered form, in a photograph – and now in an even more contemporary form already, in other words, in digital form.
Aare Ermel. Ita Rina Visited Tartu
This article introduces an episode from the hundred- year long history of Estonian film. A brief item entitled Film Diva Ita Rina Arrives in Tartu appeared in the Estonian newspaper Postimees on 1 March 1931. In and of itself, this was a relatively second rate Slovenian film actress from Germany, yet she had played one of the main roles in an Estonian-German co-production, the feature film Kire lained (Waves of Passion). Her arrival at the film’s premiere was described as nothing short of a sensation in the Estonian press. On the other hand, domestic critics appraised the film itself quite equitably in its time.
Silvia Nurmoja: My Mother’s Career
Klaara-Louise Kruus was born in St. Petersburg on 25 August 1901. After a chequered childhood and early youth, she repatriated to Estonia and got a job selling tickets at the Rekord movie theatre box office that belonged to the Estonia-Film film company. When production of the first full-length Estonian feature film began in 1924 under the aegis of Estonian National Film, she was invited to play the part of Laine, the fiancée of the elder of the ancient Estonians, played by the Estonian actor Ants Lauter. Laine is kidnapped by German crusaders in the film. The film itself has not survived.
Liivi Uuet. 5000 Pages of Film History. The Minutes of Meetings of the Tallinnfilm Studio Artistic Council
The role of the artistic council consisting mostly of creative people established at Tallinnfilm Studio in 1957 is thankworthy in the history of Estonian film. The council dealt episodically with current and long range plans, reviewed feature film scripts, watched the screen tests of actors, approved casting decisions, reviewed filmed takes and completed films. Beginning in 1961, it also dealt with documentary films and established sections for paying for films and dubbing. The discussions at meetings in 1958–1990 have been documented on over 5000 pages of minutes of those meetings. At first, all discussions were stenographed. Later documentation of these meetings was confined to briefer abstracts. Since discussions of scripts became more thorough in the editorial board, films discussed by the artistic council were already in the form of projects ready to be filmed.
This article considers three films as an introduction to this enormous amount of material – Männardid (The Männard Family, 1960), which in spite of all efforts was unsuccessful, Hullumeelsus (Insanity, 1969), a masterpiece among the films produced by the studio, and Künnimehe väsimus (The Ploughman’s Fatigue, 1983), a first rate documentary film. The opinions and appraisals of various individuals put forward in a creatively free atmosphere were written down precisely and it is due to that very same free exchange of opinions that those appraisals may differ from published film criticism. This undoubtedly adds important information to the history of Estonian film.
Estonian Film Archives. The 100th Anniversary of Estonian Film. From Pääsuke to Sööt
PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY
Aviezer Tucker. The Future of the Philosophy of Historiography
This article argues that the perception of decline among philosophers of history reflects the diffused weak academic status of the discipline, as distinct from the booming research activity and demand for philosophy of history that keeps pace with the growth rate of publications in the philosophies of science and law. This growth is justified and rational because the basic problems of the philosophy of history, concerning the nature of historiographical knowledge and the metaphysical assumptions of historiography, have maintained their relevance. Substantive philosophy of history has an assured popularity but is not likely to win intellectual respectability because of its epistemic weaknesses. I suggest focusing on problems that a study of historiography can help to understand and even solve, as distinct from problems that cannot be decided by an examination of historiography, such as the logical structure of explanation (logical positivism) and the relation between language and underdeterminism (post-structuralism). In particular, following Quine’s naturalised epistemology, I suggest placing the relation between evidence and historiography at the centre of the philosophy of historiography. Inspired by the philosophy of law, 160 Tuna 3/2012 Summary 3/2012 I suggest there are three possible relations between input (evidence) and output in historiography: determinism, indeterminism and underdeterminism. An empirical examination of historiographical agreement, disagreement and failure to communicate may indicate which relation holds at which parts of historiography. The historiographical community seeks consensus, but some areas are subject to disagreements and absence of communication; these are associated with historiographical schools that interpret conflicting models of history differently to fit their evidence. The reasons for this underdetermination of historiography by evidence need to be investigated in the future.
ARCHIVES OF CULTURAL HISTORY
Sirje Olesk. The Background of Mana and its Editorial Staff
The Estonian man of letters Hellar Grabbi (born in 1929) was given the cultural award of the Republic of Estonia in 2012 for his life’s work. Hellar Grabbi lives in Washington and was the editor of the Estonian- language cultural periodical Mana, which was published in exile in 1965–1991. The periodical focused on literature but was conspicuous in the Estonian exile community since it considered culture and literature in Soviet Estonia: the Estonian diaspora abroad was well organised and culturally adept. A large proportion of Estonia’s best writers and other creative intellectuals had left Estonia to flee from the Red Army in 1944 and migrated into exile. Sweden became the centre of exile life in the cultural sense and the Association of Expatriate Estonian Writers was organised there in 1945. The two most important Estonian-language literary periodicals were published in Sweden: Tulimuld (traditional and Estonian-minded) founded in 1951 and Mana founded in 1957. Mana was a publication that was pronouncedly oriented to the younger and more rebellious generation, especially after its editing was transferred from Sweden to the USA and Hellar Grabbi became its editor. Both periodicals were forbidden literature in Soviet Estonia, as was a large proportion of expatriate publications. The overwhelming majority of expatriates also considered Soviet Estonia an occupied country where an ideology that was hostile towards them prevailed. Consequently the culture that was created there was the bearer of that hostile ideology and was therefore of little artistic value. This kind of notion was true in the 1940’s and 1950’s, yet the situation began changing in the 1960’s. Hellar Grabbi and the so-called Mana group of activists followed the awakening and renewal of literature in the Estonian homeland. Mana’s attitude was open and liberal in the Estonian expatriate context and this caused problems among other expatriates. At the same time, Hellar Grabbi and his kindred spirits could make compromises that were unacceptable to nationalists. Visiting the Estonian homeland via the KGB front organisation VEKSA and other means of cooperation aroused suspicion. On the other hand, people who interacted with the Estonian homeland were for the most part suspicious in the eyes of Soviet officials as well. This is part of the reason that Mana, which could not legally be read in the ESSR, was legendary among people in Soviet Estonia. H. Grabbi’s five letters from America to Jaan Kaplinski in Estonia, who at the time was a young poet, in 1965–1967 vividly illustrate the interest on both sides in people living on the other side and in their activities. Hellar Grabbi explains relations between Estonian writers in exile, his own viewpoints and those of his kindred spirits, and issues in current politics of the day in the free world. He also discussed the possibility for how it would be possible to legally communicate more with the Estonian homeland but these plans did not come to fruition because the rules for Soviet citizens in communicating with the world abroad were made stricter again at the end of the 1960’s. Letters vividly demonstrate the kind of information blockade people in Soviet Estonia lived in and also how no ideology managed to suppress the natural interest in compatriots living on the other side of the Iron Curtain.