Fear and Desire

Novels

Hirm ja iha

Fear and Desire (Novels, Estonian)
Published by Kupar, 1993, pp. 184

When surveying Mats Traat's extensive oeuvre, what strikes the reader is the alternation between long novels and shorter works. Among the latter, some of the author's very best work can be found. The short novel Hirm ja iha describes the March Deportations in the spring of 1949, the forced collectivisation of farmland and the war waged on the occupying Soviet power by the Forest Brethren guerrillas. The pace is rapid and has a film-like quality about it. The sensual wife of the Party Organiser, and a Forest Brother, are seized by irresistible passion. The Party Organiseris torn between the voice of conscience from his mixed-up past and the orders given to him by the occupying power and dies by a bullet fired by a Forest Brother. In the village is a detachment from a Destruction Battalion. Fear and desire take on almost mythical proportions, whilst a certain straightness of speech and journalistic restiveness do somewhat prevent the work from becoming a wholehearted success. Hirm ja iha continues the theme mapped out by Traat in all of his works - the suffering of the people and the fate of the nation of which Traat has borne witness and is, by way of retrospection, a witness to the opening out and clarification of the past.

Text by Janika Kronberg and Rutt Hinrikus

First published in the Estonian Literary Magazine no. 03


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