Juhan Viiding

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Juhan Viiding
Born (1948-06-01)1 June 1948
Died 21 February 1995(1995-02-21) (aged 46)
Cause of death Suicide
Nationality Estonian
Other names Jüri Üdi
Occupation Poet, actor
Spouse(s) Riina Viiding
Children Elo Viiding

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

Personal life[edit]

Juhan Viiding was born on 1 June 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 at the Tallinn Conservatoire.

Juhan Viiding's daughter Elo is a poet as well.

On 21 February 1995 Juhan Viiding committed suicide[1] by cutting his wrists in Rapla.[2]

Dramatic career[edit]

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 Samuel Beckett, Ionesco, and Betsuyaku.

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

Literary career[edit]

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. It is not known whether Viiding intended to develop a second poetic voice in addition to that of Jüri Üdi, or that he simply realized that the Soviet era of ideological symbols—as described in his "Jüri’s Yarn"—was coming to an end and the actor Jüri Üdi could drop the mask to reveal Juhan Viiding’s true literary face.

Selected works[edit]

  • 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)
  • Ma 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 admitted that the wordplay 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. 
  2. ^ "Viiding, Juhan". Eesti biograafiline andmebaas ISIK. Retrieved 8 April 2013. 

External links[edit]