Lasnamäen valkea laiva

  • Country in which the text is set
  • Featured locations
    Lasnamäe Lasnamäe Lasnamäki
  • Impact
    In 1913 Aino Kallas published a collection of short stories entitled Lähtevien laivojen kaupunki (The City of Departing Ships), which is now regarded as marking a turning point in her writing. These stories are written in what became her characteristic, archaic style and in them the author experiments with many literary styles and genres. The story “Lasnamäen valkea laiva” (The White Ship of Lasnamäki) is particularly notable for the fact that its main character, Maie Merits, is a woman.
    The story is based on real events, and tells of a group of Estonian peasants who tire of their oppression and seek an alternative way of life in a religious-social movement led by Juhan Leinberg, also known as the prophet Maltsvet. In 1861 the sect decides to leave Estonia and settles down on the coast in Lasnamäki to wait for a white ship to take them away to the Promised Land.
    ”One apologizes for writing words of introduction to stories so strong, so full of atmosphere, so individual in methods as these.” – John Galsworthy in his foreword for The White Ship in 1924.
    By combining themes from Estonian history with her own expressive, archaic language Kallas departed from the nationalist tendency that characterized the Finnish literature of her time.
    Ritva Hapuli
  • Balticness
    For those waiting for the ship, the Baltic Sea represents both a concrete and symbolic route to their utopia. When the ship does not arrive, the sea becomes an insurmountable barrier to the realization of their dreams.
  • Bibliographic information
    Aino Kallas: Lähtevien laivojen kaupunki. Helsinki, Otava 1913; 2nd edition: SKS, Helsinki 1995, 67–88.
  • Translations
    Language Year Translator
    English 1924 Alex Matson
    Estonian 1913 Friedebert Tuglas
    Norwegian 2001 Liv Hatle
    Russian 1988 Gennady Murawina
    Swedish 1915 Holger Nohrström
  • Year of first publication
  • Place of first publication
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