Jaan Kaplinski

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Jaan Kaplinski was born January 22nd, 1941 in Tartu, time and place of death yet unknown.

His mother was Estonian, Polish father disappeared in the Gulag archipelago during the war.

Studied linguistics in Tartu University, wrote his first romantic poems (under the influence of Lermontov and Shelley) as a schoolboy.


Has worked as researcher in linguistics, sociologist, ecologist and translator from several languages into Estonian.

Interested in Celtic mythology and languages, American Indians and classical Chinese philosophy and poetry.

During the perestroika and Estonian national revival active as journalist both at home and abroad.

Since 1990 convinced that the USSR cannot be saved and the West must be prepared to accept its falling apart. 1992 - 1995 deputy of the Estonian Parliament (Riigikogu).


Politically adhering to the liberal Left.

Has lectured on history of Western civilization in Tartu University.

Published several books of poetry and essays in Estonian, Finnish and English.

Has been translated also into Norwegian, Swedish, Latvian, Russian and Czech.

Influenced by Western modernism (Rimbaud, Eliot, Pound) and classical Chinese poetry he has also translated.

Has translated mainly poetry from French, English, Spanish, Chinese and Swedish (a volume of poems by Tomas Tranströmer).

Travelled in many countries, including China, Turkey and parts of Russia.

Member of several learned societies and the Universal Academy of Cultures headed by Elie Wiesel.





Graduated Tartu University 1964 as a French philologist (Romanic language and linguistics)

Estonian poet, philosopher, and culture critic; has worked as a translator, editor, and sociologist. Kaplinski is known for his independent mind, focus on global issues and support for left-wing/liberal thinking. He has been influenced by Eastern philosophical schools (taoism and especially Buddhism).

1992 - 1995 deputy of the Estonian Parliament.

Has lectured on history of Western civilization in Tartu University. Interested in Celtic mythology and languages, American Indians and classical Chinese philosophy and poetry.

Kaplinski's own work has been translated into English, Finnish, French, Norwegian, Swedish, Dutch, Icelandic, Hungarian, Japanese, Latvian, Lithuanian, Russian, Hebrew, Bulgarian, and Czech. His essays deal with environmental problems, philosophy of language, classical Chinese poems, philosophy, buddhism, and Estonian nationalism.

He has translated mainly poetry from French, English, Spanish, Chinese and Swedish (a volume of poems by Tomas Tranströmer). Member of several learned societies and the Universal Academy of Cultures headed by Elie Wiesel.