The Last Book

The weather today was blustery with manic periods of rain, creating less than ideal conditions for visiting Silvia’s childhood home, or strolling through the nearby park that held her fond memories. Reluctantly, I delayed my trip, waiting for finer weather.

Instead, I slipped into a bookstore before a meeting, where I found a copy of Päike ja Jõgi (The Sun and the River), Visnapuu’s last book, published posthumously in 1951. A memoir of his childhood in southern Estonia, it also explores his bitter sorrow as an exile from his country.

Visnapuu began work on The Sun and the River in the displaced persons camp of Augsburg after WWII, finishing the manuscript while living with Silvia in New York. The words, bound in this volume, were typed and edited by Silvia, most likely on the typewriter featured on the homepage of the website. This book was the first title published by Eesti Kirjanike Kooperatiiv, a publishing group that worked to keep Estonian literature thriving during the communist period and mass exile, an effort to which Silvia gave much time.

I cannot read the words of Päike ja Jõgi, but when I pulled the book from the shelf, it opened to pressed flowers. Like a sign from Silvia and her garden, I felt this copy was intended for me.

From the poem Tõlkige Mu Kõne by Visnapuu: “Kirjatundjad, tõlkige mu kõne, mõnele mu kadunud rahva lapsele.” Google Translate provides the idea with, “Writers, translate my speech to some of my missing children.” Perhaps, one day, the words will be translated.

4 thoughts on “The Last Book

  1. It should be: Those who are literate, translate my speech for some of the children of my vanished/obsolete people. This is the whole difference: not children are missing but these are children of the people who is no more.

    1. Anna, Visnapuu writes of the children of those who were forced into exile – those who no longer speak the language?

      1. I answered you on Facebook but I am glad to clarify it here as well. He writes about Estonian people in general: those who are oppressed under occupation may also forget the language, eventually, so he speaks of both home and exile. Nobody new what the future under the Soviets would be.

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