eesti teaduste
akadeemia kirjastus
SINCE 1997
TRAMES cover
TRAMES. A Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences
ISSN 1736-7514 (Electronic)
ISSN 1406-0922 (Print)
Impact Factor (2020): 0.5


Full article in PDF format |

Leena Kurvet-Käosaar


The current article focuses on two works of life writing by Baltic exiles: Geo­graphy and the Art of Life (2004) by Edmunds Valdemārs Bunkše and Otsekui tõlkes. Teema variatsioonidega [As if in translation. A theme with variations] (2005) by Käbi Laretei. In both works the construction of subjectivity relies, to an important extent, on acts of self-emplacement that proceed via an engagement with different places, landscapes and trajectories of movement that include attempts to create spaces of belonging and of being at home. Rather than being anchored in a firm referential basis, such spaces are often envisioned as imaginative textual constructions elaborated, e.g. via reflections around the concept of home or mediation of the continuous process of seeking a(n ideal) home. In Otsekui tõlkes, Laretei explores the position of an exile through a scrutiny of personal and professional relationships unraveling against the backdrop of a multitude of places and trajectories of travel, as well as the role of music in finding her place in life. Bunkše’s Geography and the Art of Life that is both a memoir and a theoretical reflection in the field of cultural geography reflects upon ways in which spatial imagination guides the formation of (exilic) identity that is premised on the dichotomy of the home and the road in both the figurative and literal sense.


Aciman, André (1999) “Foreword: permanent transients”. In André Aciman, ed. Letters of transit: reflections on exile, identity, language, and loss, 9–14. New York: New Press.

Adams, Jenni (2012) “Cities under a sky of mud: landscapes of mourning in Holocaust texts”. In Christine Berberich, Neil Campbell and Robert Hudson, eds. Land and identity. theory, memory, and practice, 141–164. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi.

Assmann, Aleida and Sebastian Conrad (2010) “Introduction”. In Aleida Assmann and Sebastian Conrad, eds. Memory in a global age: discourses, practices and trajectories, 1–16. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Berberich, Christine, Neil Campell, and Robert Hudson (2012) “Introduction: framing and reframing land and identity”. In Christine Berberich, Neil Campbell and Robert Hudson, eds. Land and identity. theory, memory, and practice, 17–39. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi.

Boym, Svetlana (2011) “Off-modern homecoming in art and theory”. In Marianne Hirsch and Nancy K. Miller, eds. Rites of return. diaspora poetics and the politics of memory, 151–165. New York: Columbia University Press.

Bunkše, Edmunds Valdemārs (2004) Geography and the art of life. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Craps, Stef, Astrid Erll, Paula McFetride, Ann Rigney, and Dominic Thorpe (2017) “Roundtable: moving memory”. Irish University Review 47, 1, 165–196.

Erll, Astrid (2011) “Travelling memory”. Parallax 17, 4, 418.

Hall, Stuart (1995) “New cultures for old”. In Doreen Massey and Pat Jess, eds. A place in the world?, 175–213. Oxford: Open University Press.

Israel, Nico (2000) Outlandish: writing between exile and diaspora. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Jilani, Sarah (2015) “Writing exile: displacement and arrival in Eva Hoffman’s Lost in translation and Edward Said’s Out of place”. Life Writing 12, 1, 59–73.

Karjalainen, Pauli Tapani (2003) “On geobiography”. In Virve Sarapik, Kadri Tüür, eds. Koht ja paik/Place and location, 87–92. (Studies in Environmental Aesthetics and Semiotics, 3.) Tallinn: Eesti Kunstiakadeemia.

Khanenko-Friesen, Natalia (2015) Ukranian otherlands: diaspora, homeland and folk imagination in the twentieth century. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

Kilian, Eveline and Wolf Hope (2016) “The spatial dimensions of life writing”. In Eveline Kilian, Hope Wolf, eds. Life writing and space, 1–21. London and New York: Routledge.

Kirss, Tiina (2014) “Kirjaniku maapagu: eksiili rõõmust ja vaevast”. [Writerly exile: anguish, joy, and worldliness.] Methis 13, 9–31

Kurvet-Käosaar, Leena (2009) “The situation of translation/translation situation in Käbi Laretei’s life writing”. Biography: an Interdisciplinary Quarterly 32, 1, 151162.

Laretei, Käbi (2005) Otsekui tõlkes. Teema variatsioonidega. [As if in translation. A theme with variations.] Tallinn: Tänapäev.

Laretei, Käbi (1989) Peotäis mulda, lapike maad. [ A handful of soil, A patch of land.] Tallinn: Perioodika.

Laretei, Käbi (2002) Vihmapiisad ja kuupaiste. Esseid muusikast. [Raindrops and moonlinght. Essays on music.] Tallinn: SE&JS.

Massey, Doreen (1994) Space, place and gender. Cambridge: Polity.

Neubauer, John (2009) “Introduction: autobiographical exile life writing”. In John Neubauer and Borbála Zsuzhanna Török, eds. The exile and return of writers from East-Central Europe, 397–399. Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter.

Palang, Hannes and Helen Sepping-Sooväli (2012) “Maadeuurijad, geograafid ja jutuvestjad”. [Explorers, geographers and storytellers.] In Bunkše, Edmunds Valdemārs, Geograafia ja elamise kunst, 179–186. [Geography and the art of life.] Tallinn: Varrak.

Pollock, Griselda (2007) “Life-mapping: or, Walter Benjamin and Charlotte Salomon never met”. In Griselda Pollock, ed. Conceptual Odysseys: passages to cultural analysis, 63–88. London: I. B. Tauris & Co.

Radstone, Susannah (2011) “What place is this?’ Transcultural memory and the locations of memory studies”. Parallax 17:4, 109–123.

Said, Edward (2001) “Reflections on exile”. In Reflections on exile and other essays, 173–186. London: Granta Books.

Said, Edward (1984) “The mind of winter: reflections on life in exile”. Harper’s Magazine 269,1612, 49–55.

Sharp, Jo (2009) “Humanistic geography”. In Derek Gregory, Ron Johnston, Geraldine Pratt, Michael J.Watts, and Sarah Whatmore, eds. The dictionary of human geography, 356–358. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

Skultans, Vieda (1998) “Remembering time and place: a case study in Latvian narrative”. Oral History: The Journal of the Oral History Society 26, 1, 55–63.

Smith, Sidonie and Julia Watson (2010) Reading autobiography. a guide for interpreting life narratives. 2nd ed. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Suleiman, Susan, Rubin (1996) “Introduction”. In Susan Rubin Suleiman, ed. Exile and creativity. signposts, travelers, outsiders, backward glances, 1–6. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Watson, Julia (2007/2017) “The spaces of autobiographical narrative”. In Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson, eds. Life writing in the long run: a Smith & Watson autobiography studies reader. Maize Books, Michigan Publishing.

West, Russell (1999) “Space and language in the private diary: Conrad’s Congo diaries”. In Rachel Langford and Russell West, eds, Marginal voices, marginal forms: diaries in European literature and history, 107–125. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

Wylie, John (2009) “Landscape”. In Derek Gregory, Ron Johnston, Geraldine Pratt, Michael J. Watts, and Sarah Whatmore, eds. The dictionary of human geography, 409–411. Chichester:

Back to Issue