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Juhan Viiding

Juhan Viiding (1 June 1948 – 21 February 1995), also known under the pseudonym of Jüri Üdi was an Estonian poet and actor.


Childhood, education, and family

Juhan Viiding was born June 1, 1948 in Tallinn to Linda and Paul Viiding. His father Paul was also a well-known poet in Estonia who had belonged to the influential Arbujad (Soothsayers) - a collective group of eight young influential poets who rose to prominence before the outbreak of World War II. Juhan was the youngest of four children and the only boy—his older sisters were Reet, Anni and Mari. He was an intellectually precocious and restless youngster. Between the years 1968 and 1972, Viiding studied theatre and stagecraft in Tallinn's National Conservatoire.

Dramatic career

Upon his graduation in 1972, Viiding worked in Tallinn's National Drama Theatre (now the Estonian Drama Theatre).

During the last ten years of his life Viiding staged many plays. His favourite playwrights were Beckett, Ionesco, and Betsuyaku.

Viiding worked at the Estonian Drama Theatre until his death on February 21, 1995.

Literary career

Juhan Viiding who until 1975 published his poetry under the pseudonym Jüri Üdi (George Marrow) was the brightest talent to appear in Estonian poetry in the 1970s. Unlike the major poets of the immediately preceding generation (Rummo, Kaplinski, Runnel), he never wrote essays or criticism.

The heteronymic poetics of the modern Portuguese classic Fernando Pessoa (whose selected poetry was translated into Estonian in 1973), may have served as an impulse for Juhan Viiding to create the poet Jüri Üdi. However, the difference between the works published under the author's name and his pseudonym is that the "marrow" of Juhan Viiding’s poetry remained in his George Marrow pseudonym; what followed, under his authentic name, lacked the former brilliance. Jüri Üdi’s playfulness and rich undertones gave way to a more direct and pathetic expression. One can only guess if Viiding’s intention was to develop another poetic voice, in addition to that of Jüri Üdi, or he simply realized that the Soviet era of ideological symbols—finely described in his "Jüri’s Yarn"—was coming to an end and the actor Jüri Üdi could change his masks for Juhan Viiding’s true literary face.

Juhan Viiding's daughter, Elo Viiding, is also a poet.


On February 21, 1995 Juhan Viiding committed suicide.[1]

Selected Works

Närvitrükk (Nerve Print, 1971)

Aastalaat (Year's Fair, 1971)

Detsember (December, 1971)

Käekäik (1973)

Selges eesti keeles (In Plain Estonian, 1974) Note: As a footnote of the title Viiding requested that the name of the language in the title has to be renamed to the one that was used for translating. Therefore the translation of the title should be "In Plain English"

Armastuskirjad (Love Letters, 1975)

Mina olin Jüri Üdi (I Was George Marrow, 1978)

Elulootus (Hope of Life/Being without a Biography, 1980) Note: Due to the clever word-play in the title as it is in the original Estonian, both of the "translations" presented here are correct. In an interview, Viiding himself admitted that the double-meaning in the title was intentional.

Tänan ja Palun (Cheers and Please, 1983)

Osa (Part, 1991)


  1. ^ Krull, Hasso. "Juhan Viiding". Estonian Literature Information Centre. Retrieved 3 June 2009.  

External links

Examples of Juhan Viiding's Poetry (English translations)



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