Saturday, February 4, 2017

Sherlocking in Estonia

Estonian Coat of Arms
Estonia is a small Baltic country that has the distinction of being the first of the Soviet Republics to declare its independence. The Republic of Estonia was re-established on August 21, 1991, not too bad of an accomplishment for a country of about 1,300,000 inhabitants. To go along with the country's David vs. Goliath reputation, they also garner a great literary tradition. However, if any Sherlockian were to read and believe Ronald B. De Waal's The World Bibliography of Sherlock Holmes (New York Graphic Society; March 24, 1975), they would not be so enthused. According to Mr. De Waal, Estonia only published a single translation of the Canon.

I am writing today to set the record straight. The census I have regarding Estonian translations of the Canon sits at 45 editions. The one edition listed in De Waal is Baskerville'ide koer (Eesti raamat, 1973), C2692. In a letter I received from the Estonian National Library, dated June 23, 1989 (before their independence), one of their librarians list 40 editions and 34 of those were canonical. The earliest editions I found were Mõrtsukatöö Boscombe orus (Postimees, 1895), obviously "The Boscombe Valley Mystery" and "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches" - Läbi akna ehk saladusline tuba (Dreimann, 1896). They were published nearly 80 years earlier than the De Waal entry. He is not to be blamed because his massively impressive work was compilied long before the luxury of having the Internet to do all of the heavy lifting. There are other editions from 1898, 1900, 1906, and 1907.

Viis apelsiniseemet: Kriminaaljutustus
I am particularly fond of a 1938 set of booklets published in Tartu by the publisher J. Mällos. Each volume includes a single canonical story. Luckily I have all five of them in my collection. The stories are FIVE; YELL; SPEC; CROO; and BERY. All of the booklets feature a monochrome front cover but not in the standard black, gray, and white.  No indeed. Every booklet features various shades of red or orange or sepia. Each cover speaks volumes while reflecting a minimalistic attitude. Maybe they were some kind of Soviet area subtle propaganda. Regardless of any overt or subversive meaning they are still some of my favorite from any language.

There are other editions published in the 1940's that feature covers that are reflective of the Hollywood glamor photographs of the time. There is a gap where nothing was published in the 1950's or 1960's. The previously mentioned HOUN from 1973 seems to be the first resurgence of Holmes publications. After this one was published, many others followed. The most recent one came out in 2010. Sherlock Holmesi lühijutud (Kirjastus Varrak, 2010) is a collection of all of the short stories, weighing in at nearly 800 pages.

Estonia offers a vast array of old, new, and interesting translations of the Canon and with a little digging and Sherlocking, you too can have a collection of books you cannot read.

Happy Collecting!

Kollane nägu: Kriminaaljutustus               Täpiline pael: Kriminaaljutustus
                   (YELL)                                                           (SPEC)

Salapärane Mees: Kriminaaljutustus          Berüllidest kroon: krimianaalroman
                  (CROO)                                                             (BERY)

No comments:

Post a Comment