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Kevade by Oskar Luts
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Most enjoyable Estonian children's book of 1912, set in a village school. The adventures focus on sensitive Arno, and his classmates, notably Toots with his endless escapades and Teele, a girl on whom Arno becomes increasingly fond... The kindly schoolmaster, the unpleasant churchwarden and the vodka-swilling sexton all come into the narrative, as do the pupils of a neighbouring school for the sons of German squires...
During the year that the story covers, we see the children grow up somewhat. Teenage melancholy, getting drunk and a moral dilemma are interspersed with some quite amusing episodes, courtesy of Toots: 'In Joosepp Toots there is a fierce battle going on between right and wrong. And, as is to be expected, wrong always comes out the winner.'
The characters were sufficiently strong that I really wanted to read the sequels that Luts wrote (sadly these don't seem to exist in English translation - indeed this novel was quite hard to come by in English). Lovely illustrations give it the finishing touch. ( )
  starbox | Feb 8, 2014 |
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When Arno and his father arrived at the schoolhouse, classes had already begun.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Spring (1912), which belongs to juvenile literature, occupies a peculiar position in Estonian literature, because it is well known to every member of the nation. In Estonia the young heroes of Spring are as popular as Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn with the European and American readers. Spring is largely based on the author's memories of his schooldays. He draws a vivid picture of a typical country school in Estonia towards the end of the 19th century, mainly attended by the peasant children. A peculiar feature of school life at that time was that the reactionary czarist government demanded instruction of the more important subjects in Russian. In a way the narrative also reflects the age-old conflict between the Estonian peasant children and the offspring of the local German landlords. Yet the literary merits of he work are to be sought in the masterfully drawn characters and the truthful depiction of the psychology of schoolchildren.

The young heroes of Spring also feature in the subsequent series of stories by Luts - Summer (1918), Toots' Wedding (1921), Weekday (1924) and Autumn (1938).
Spring has been dramatized and staged repeatedly and with great success. It has also served as a basis for a ballet. Its screen version was released by Tallinn-film in 1969.
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