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« Tuna 3 / 2019

History and Science-Fiction. On the Correspondence between Karl Ristikivi and Kalju Kirde

This source publication is based on letters by Karl Ristikivi (1912–1977) that are preserved in the Cultural History Archives of the Estonian Literary Museum. The addressee of the letters, Kalju Kirde (1923–2008), lived in Göttingen in the Federal Republic of Germany and worked at the Max Planck Institute as a scientific assistant and in numerous other positions. Yet his long-standing passion was for horror and science-fiction literature. The fruit of this fascination was his collaboration with numerous German publishing houses and the compiling and editing of book series and anthologies. Yet Kirde’s important contribution to Estonian cultural history was sorting out the archival heritage of his fellow townsman Otto A. Webermann (1915–1971), the cultural historian and Estonian expatriate who also lived in Göttingen, and also sending part of that archive to Estonia. Kirde’s correspondence with the theologian and poet Uku Masing, who lived in Estonia, and the writer Karl Ristikivi, who lived in Sweden, also began right after the death of Otto A. Webermann. Although correspondence between Kirde and Ristikivi was scanty, it among other things bears witness to what otherwise seemingly distant science-fiction and horror literature shared in common with Ristikivi’s devotion to prose on European history, and on what connected them.