Eno Raud

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15/02/1928 - 09/07/1996


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Eno Raud (1928–1996), one of the best-known and most beloved children’s writers in Estonia, was born in Tartu to the family of writer Mart Raud and teacher Lea Nurkse. He studied Estonian language and literature at the University of Tartu and worked as an editor at the Estonian State Publishing House until becoming a full-time writer. He was married to Aino Pervik, another children’s writer: they had three children, all of whom are also writers.

Raud penned more than 50 books of stories and poems over his lifetime. His most popular works include the story of a rag doll named Raggie and a four-part story about three slightly eccentric fellows: Halfshoe, Mossbeard, and Muff (Three Jolly Fellows). The author’s works are considered classics not only in Estonia, but also in the other former Soviet countries. His children’s books have been translated into more than 30 languages, and are rich with fantasy and humour.

The works of Estonia’s most famed and translated children’s author, Eno Raud (1928–1996), are exceptionally rich and diverse. He has written poetry and prose for children of very different ages, has used different genres – from folk-humor prose through novels, and additionally has made popular folklore adaptations for children – thus familiarizing young readers with the hero of Estonia’s national epic Kalevipoeg (1961), Saaremaa’s Suur Tõll (1959), as well as Kaval-Ants ja Vanapagan (1959).

Although most of Eno Raud’s works were published during the Soviet period, he has managed to keep his writings free of politics. The events of Raud’s books often take place in a fantasy world, outside of a particular era. Yet even in his realistic books for children and youth, Raud was able to avoid leaning towards the “socialist realism” favored by communist ideology. Incidentally, the same quality is characteristic of several Estonian children’s writers that wrote at the same time as Raud – Jaan Rannap, Ellen Niit, Aino Pervik, Leelo Tungla, etc.

Raud’s most popular book is undoubtedly Sipsik (Raggie, 1962; followed by Anu ja Sipsik (Anu and Raggie), 1970). It is the heartfelt tale of five-year-old girl Anu, whose older brother Mart crafts for her a rag doll with striped pants for her birthday. Raggie indeed doesn’t come out looking especially pretty, but it has a soul – the boy stitched the doll together with such great love – and becomes Anu’s and Mart’s faithful playmate. The book is characterized by a beautiful balance between fantasy and reality – to a child reader, it seems that the doll truly is alive and its brother and sister do send it to appear on television or go to the Moon during their games. An adult reader grasps, however, that Raggie emerges thanks to the children’s lively imaginations. As of today, the Raggie stories have become a classic of Estonian children’s literature, with which many generations of readers have grown up. Naturally, Raggie’s popularity has also been helped along by artist Edgar Valter’s vivid drawing. Raggie has been translated into 12 languages.

Eno Raud’s second successful work is a series about three jolly fellows (Naksitrallid, Three Jolly Fellows 1-2, 1972 and 1975; Jälle need Naksitrallid, Three Jolly Fellows 3-4, 1979 and 1982). The books, amount to novels and are meant for readers aged 8+, tell of the friendship shared by three little men: Muff, Halfshoe, and Mossbeard. The men dream of journeying to the sea, which they indeed never reach. Instead, they end up having crazy and unbelievable adventures. However, although the works are fantasy novels, the attributes surrounding the three little men are quite present-day – so, for example, the trio roams around in a small red station wagon, which has modern cooking equipment: one especially cool device is a water-heating spiral that can vaporize an entire lake in just a few seconds! Raud has simultaneously been able to capture universal types of people within the three men – a romantic poet, a green hippie, and an adventurer with a quarrelsome temper (again illustrated by Edgar Valter). Nature preservation is a motif spanning the stories – the trio’s adventures are indeed very exciting, but it becomes clear to the reader that no matter how many modern-day comforts might surround us, we still depend upon nature. In addition, there must be a balance in nature, which one must not ruin. The first part of the “Jolly Fellows” series was included in the 1974 IBBY Honour List, and likewise received an annual Estonian award for children’s literature.

The main trend in Eno Raud’s works is his exceptional ability to speak to a reader about important things, while doing it in a way that a 5- to 6-year-old reader understands him. He is able of doing this via instructive children’s stories – in the way as he does in the collection Nii või naa (This Way or That, 1957) and Mõru kook (Bitter Cake, 1959); but he can also implement a fantasy world, where – similarly to Hans Christian Andersen’s works – items that originate from daily life start to act (Konn ja ekskavaator, The Frog and the Excavator, 1961).

Many of Raud’s storybooks for small children are written in a folk style close to parables, or even folk-humor. Yet even in these works, stepping up alongside the traditional animal heroes such as cats/mice/bears/rabbits/foxes are such more modern opposite pairs as a tractor and a horse, a cow and a milk truck, a helicopter and a windmill. With the help of these characters, the writer helps explain the rules and laws of the surrounding world to readers. In these stories, the writer is just and instructive: good triumphs and bad gets just what it is due.

Although Eno Raud wrote stories both for little boys (Väike autoraamat, Little Car Book, 1974) and for little girls (Triin ja päike, Triin and the Sun, 1971), his works are universal by their essence: children of various ages as well as their parents will find something that speaks to them in Raud’s books. In the Estonian context, it is important to add that Eno Raud was also a masterful children’s poetry writer, who gladdened readers with his plays on words and textual tricks.

With his realistic children’s stories, Raud appears before the reader as an author with a completely different signature. The dilogy Roostevaba mõõk (The Un-rusted Sword, 1957) and „Sõjakirves on välja kaevatud” (The Battle-Axe is Unearthed, 1959) has become a classic of Estonian boy’s stories that can be compared to Hungarian writer Ferenc Molnár’s book The Paul Street Boys. The book Märgutuled Padalaiul (Beacons on Padalaid Isle) is about a group of city children that end up on a lone island on their own and their efforts to get by, which are spiced up by some unusual events. In the three stories of the book Lugu lendavate taldrikutega (A Story with Flying Saucers, 1973), the children search for signs of an extraterrestrial civilization, telepathy, etc.; however, always end up (perhaps to some readers’ disappointment?) finding a solution that satisfies ordinary thought. One must admit that the adventure stories aimed primarily towards boys aged 10+, in which friendship, helping out one another, and getting by in a difficult situation hold an important place, are also enjoyable for girls of the same age.

In summary, one may say that Eno Raud was a luminary of 20th-century Estonian children’s literature. Many of his books are very popular among Estonian children to this very day.

Ilona Martson


Raud-Eno-Kiplased-2016The Gothamites
Far away in Turkey Land live a people called the Gothamites. They are known for their bright intelligence, which means they have endless work to do and lots of advice to give in places far from their homeland. At the same time, this also means that things back in Turkey Land tend to get out of hand!
Reading sample
Three Jolly Fellows
The four-part fairy tale series Three Jolly Fellows tells the adventures of three small men in a world that borders on the fantastic: the composed and close-to-nature Mossbeard, the irritable city dweller Halfshoe, and the sensitive poet Muff. The first two books deal with a chain of events set off by human tampering with the laws of nature. The third and fourth books address human dignity.
Reading sample
A Story with Flying Saucers
Things continue after the events of "A Quite Criminal Tale" – village boy Jürnas manages to capture a UFO on film when taking pictures of people in his yard; the photographs have dark spots on them. The boys decide to write to Tõravere Observatory to get answers.
In the meantime, Peeter gets his friend Riho out of being grounded.
A Quite Criminal Tale
The events begin in a small, nameless Estonian village, where city-girl Kärt arrives for summer break. She is received by three boys – Meelik, Jürnas, and Kaur. The young teenage men are at a loss for what kind of entertainment to offer Kärt so she doesn’t grow bored in the village.
The cheerful rag doll Raggie has been a heartfelt favourite of many generations of Estonian children. Six-year-old Mart makes the doll as a birthday present for his younger sister, Anu. Raggie, which has been sewn with love and affection, comes to life, and quickly becomes the little girl’s best friend and closest playmate. Together, they feed the birds, gather mushrooms, and go to the seaside.
Reading sample

1996 Karl Eduard Sööt Children’s Poetry Award (posthumously) (A Fish Takes a Walk)
1987 Estonian State Prize (Three Jolly Fellows. 1–4)
1980 Annual J. Smuul Award for Literature (Three Jolly Fellows. 1)
1978 Honored Writer of the Estonian SSR
1974 IBBY Honour List (Three Jolly Fellows. 1)
1970 Annual Prize of Literature of the Estonian SSR (The Inquisitive Film Camera, A Story with Flying Saucers)
1970 All-Union Children’s and Youth Literature Competition, 1st prize (A Light in a Darkened City)

Selected translations:

Lithuanian: Cypliukas, Gimtasis Žodis 2006
Russian in Estonia: Сипсик, Tammerraamat 2010, 2012, 2015
Russian: Сипсик, Детская литература 1979, 1980, РОСМЭН 2013

A Story with Flying Saucers
Hungarian: A repülő csészealjak története, Móra 1985
Greek: Kedros, 1982, 1984
Azerbaijani: 1982
Slovak: Lietajúce taniere, Pravda 1981
Romanian/Moldova: О историе ку „фарфурий збурэтоаре”, Литература артистикэ 1980
Bulgarian: История с „летящи чинии”, Народна младеж 1978
Latvian: Lidojošie šķīvji, Liesma 1977
German in Estonia: Die Geschichte mit den fliegenden Untertassen, Eesti Raamat 1976, Perioodika 1978
Russian: История с „летающими тарелками”, Детская литературa 1977
Finnish: Lentävän lautasen arvoitus, WSOY 1975

The Gothamites
English: The Gothamites, Brooklyn, NY: Elsewhere Editions 2019

Three Jolly Fellows, books 1–4
Russian: Муфта, Полботинка и Моховая Борода, newest ed. НИГМА 2015
Latvian: Naksitrallīši (Books 1–2), Zvaigzne ABC 2010
German: Drei lustige Gesellen, Leiv 2009–2012
Lithuanian: Pabaldukai (Books 1–2), Vaga 1998

Selected works:

Jälle need Naksitrallid (Three Jolly Fellows. 3–4), Eesti Raamat 1979, Tänapäev 2009, illustrated by Edgar Valter, 142 pp
Naksitrallid (Three Jolly Fellows. 1–2), Eesti Raamat 1972, Tänapäev 2007, illustrated by Edgar Valter, 92 pp
Telepaatiline lugu (A Telepathic Tale), Eesti Raamat 1970, illustrated by Edgar Valter, 80 pp
Lugu lendavate taldrikutega (A Story with Flying Saucers), Eesti Raamat 1969, 1973, 1978, Tänapäev 2017, illustrated by Edgar Valter, 240 pp; Avita 2000, 247 pp
Päris kriminaalne lugu (A Quite Criminal Tale), Eesti Raamat 1968, illustrated by Edgar Valter, 54 pp
Tuli pimendatud linnas (A Light in a Darkened City), Eesti Raamat 1967, illustrated by Endel Maisaar
Kilplased (The Gothamites), Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus 1962, newest ed. Tänapäev 2016, illustrated by Priit Pärn, 44 pp
Sipsik (Raggie), Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus 1962, newest ed. Tammerraamat 2016, illustrated by Edgar Valter, 112 pp