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Russia as experienced by Johannes Barbarus: The case of a travelogue

The position of Johannes Vares-Barbarus (1890–1946) in Estonian history and culture is contradictory. On the one hand, he was a remarkable doctor of the name of Vares, on the other hand, a poet named Barbarus, whose modernistic poems were not always appreciated. Moreover, the reception of his works has been complicated by his actions in the 1940s, when he was one of the leading figures in the Sovietization of Estonia. His left-wing views are hardly overlooked whenever himself or his works are discussed. His poetry having received so much more attention than the rest of his works, this article analyzes his travelogue Matkavisandeid & mõtisklusi („Travel Sketches and Contemplations”), which is based on his visit to the Soviet Union. It was published in the literary magazine Looming in 1935 and reprinted in 1950 in his collected works. The article analyzes the image of the Soviet Union in his travelogue published in 1935 and discusses the notable changes that were made in the reprint. Some of those changes have significantly altered the meaning, so that the revised text fits perfectly the Soviet canon.