Raimond Kaugver

Raimond Kaugver was a true Estonian best-selling author from the mid-1960's until his death. He wrote novels, short stories, narratives, plays, and radio dramas. The print run of his novel Vana mees tahab koju (The Old Man Wants to Go Home) rose up to one hundred and twenty thousand.

Kaugver made his debut with the short story Doktor Kollom (Doctor Kollom, 1956): the then tram driver and tram-trust employee became a professional writer in 1964, and one member of the powerful writer's generation of the 1960's.

Similar to Estonian classic Jaan Kross, Kaugver frequently wrote stories by way of himself; from some border of memories and personal life. The experiences were actually bitter. Kaugver grew up in Rakvere, in eastern Estonia, and fought in the Finnish Continuation War as a boy. Upon returning, he was imprisoned for doing so in occupied Estonia, and spent five years at the Vorkuta Gulag. It was during these years that he wrote one of his first pieces of literature: the autobiographical novel of a very young prison-camp inmate titled Põhjavalgus (Northern Lights), which was published only in 2010. The novel was written in the camp, just as were several of his later highly esteemed and awarded short stories.

One of Kaugver's most famous novels, Nelikümmend küünalt (Forty Candles), which also reached the stage, describes a man with a complicated fate, who serves on the "wrong side" during World War II, receives his punishment in a prison camp, and grows bitter, living as a cynic. Kaugver is dramatic and ethical as a writer: an outstanding one of his later works, The Old Man Wants to Go Home, is the story of a man, who loses both of his legs, along with his home while he is in the hospital. Modern family relations, also those with the next generation, are an important topic in his works: both sides' need for understanding, unconditional care, and responsibility for one's acts. This has also made his novels that speak of youth important among the young persons of today. His sense for human nature is so deep that the social context is of no importance, and his works have become timeless. Kaugver's short stories are classics in their genre, with a conflictual event as their central point and the climax by the end. The public – readers – liked him more than the critics did. One of his beloved novels is Pariisi lõbusad naised (The Filles de Joie of Paris, 1985): in Eastern Estonia is a village named Pariis, and to this day, the cheerful tale attracts to the place quite a number of curious souls searching for that described in the book.

Contemporaries remember him as a bona fide gentleman of the 1930's; through his works echoes a solemn backdrop of that seen in life. Yet, Kaugver was born a writer by nature: he had a brilliant talent for storytelling and a pictorial manner bound with intricate psychology – unfolding unadorned in his books is the difficulty of making the choices that develop in life. Popular films have also been made of Kaugver's novels.


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