Baltic Belles: The Dedalus Book of Estonian Women's Literature, edited by Elle-Mari Talivee

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This anthology presents readers with a broad selection of fiction written between the late 19th century and today. The collection opens with the early realist Elisabeth Aspe, who described both village life and urban fear during the final decades of the 19th century. Early 20th-century works by female writers often discussed the young creative individual’s encounters in the transformed urbanised world, some of the most outstanding examples of which are by the great Betti Alver. After World War II, Estonian writing bore the unmistakable signs of Soviet censorship. Nevertheless, Viivi Luik’s momentous novel The Seventh Spring of Peace managed to avoid suppression, and the wonderfully unique Asta Põldmäe seized her opportunity to write. Very strong authors such as Eeva Park, Maarja Kangro and Maimu Berg flourished with the return of freedom of expression in the late 20th century, and continue to do so today. They represent the best of Estonian short-story writing, handling social topics very sharply and suggestively, and scrutinising the country’s soul in a highly personal manner.