Valdur Mikita is the mightiest master of Estonian myth in recent history. In 2008, he began publishing essayistic books that probe the unique dispositions of Nordic, and especially Finnic, peoples. Mikita’s literary series, which he has called a “trilogy of howling threshers”, became a number-one bestseller in Estonia. It opened with Metsik lingvistika (Wild Linguistics, 2008), followed by Lingvistiline mets (The Linguistic Forest: The Wagtail Paradigm, Accelerator of Consciousness, 2013), and ended with Lindvistika ehk metsa see lingvistika (Birdistics, or To the Woods with Linguistics, 2015). Reviewers find Mikita shamanistic in nature. Wittily, he delves into the magic of mythology in an entirely unusual manner; into the importance of experiencing nature first-hand and the landscapes that define the Finno-Ugric spirit. With his writing, Mikita deftly reveals the semi-sorcerous worldview of peoples indigenously bound to the forest. Lingvistiline mets won the open category of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia’s Award for Literature in 2014. 

Mikita, who was born in 1970 and grew up in the countryside, is one of Estonia’s most unique thinkers. He studied biology at the University of Tartu and defended a doctoral degree at his alma mater in the fields of semiotics and cultural theory. He began his literary path as a punny muddler of genres, jumbling essays and poetry in the same basket with his collections Äparduse rõõm (The Joy of Mishap, 2000) and Rännak impampluule riiki (A Journey to the Kingdom of Hocus-Pocus Poetry, 2001). Mikita has always been fascinated by experiments, be they linguistic or requiring mental gymnastics. He was made a visiting professor of liberal arts at the University of Tartu in 2016. 

In his latest work, Kukeseene kuulamise kunst (The Art of Listening to a Chanterelle, 2017), he claims that if a person is capable of practicing that particular art, then they most definitely have Finnic forest roots. Mikita observes that the modern-day Estonian walks around with Skype in one hand and a little mushrooming knife in the other, saying the nation is gifted at combining indigenous folk knowledge and the newest technological inventions. The author, who believes wild experiences are an inseparable component of the identities of all who live in Estonia, lives nestled among the forests of rural Tartu County.


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