English Translation of the Novel Sailing Against the Wind (Vastutuulelaev) by Jaan Kross was Published by Northwestern University Press in Evanston, Illinois, USA

August 8, 2012

Dear Estonians at home and abroad,

I am a British translator living in Sweden. In January 2012, my English translation of the novel Sailing Against the Wind (Vastutuulelaev) by Estonian author Jaan Kross was published by Northwestern University Press in Evanston, Illinois, USA. This historical novel fictionalizes the life of Bernhard Schmidt (1879-1935), an Estonian-born inventor.

As a young boy, Schmidt lost his arm while experimenting with a homemade rocket, resulting in psychological trauma that would plague him for the rest of his life. Largely self-taught, Schmidt was driven to seek recognition of his talents. He moved to Germany in the 1930s, where, after perfecting techniques for polishing lenses, he began developing ideas for improving astronomical telescopes. He was arrested for selling one to the Russians, and although he got off with only a warning, he later suffered a breakdown and was sent to a mental hospital, where he died shortly thereafter. Sailing Against the Wind is a meditation on national identity, the relationship between history and the individual life, as well as the mechanisms of the historical novel as a genre.

This is my third translation of a Kross book. Previously, I have translated The Conspiracy and Other Stories (various short-stories) and the novel Treading Air (Paigallend), published by Harvill in London.

Other previous translations include two novels by Mati Unt, and the novel by Toomas Vint called An Unending Landscape (Lõppematu maastik), that appeared in July 2012 through The Dalkey Archive Press in Champaign, Illinois. The anthology called The Dedalus Book of Estonian Literature, from the British publishing house Dedalus, appeared last year. (All of these can be found through an internet search.) Prior to this, I also translated a book of short stories by Friedebert Tuglas that appeared in 2007.

These translated books can be used to showcase Estonian literature to friends and relatives who do not speak Estonian.

For further information please write to or visit:
Northwestern University Press

Kind regards,
Eric Dickens